David and I often commend each other on "getting out." Unlike many of the people with whom we went to high school, David and I made a run for it and did "get out;" we made it all the way to New York City. The same cannot be said for 90 percent of our graduating class, most of whom still reside in the same small New Hampshire town in which we grew up.
From the beginning, David and I were different than those who surrounded us. Unlike those with whom we shared classrooms, roads and even the perfect New England air, we wanted for something else.
I knew from the start that David was gay. Before I could actively define what the word "gay" meant in my mind, I associated him with Billy Crystal's character on the early 80s series "Soap." It was a show my mother loved, one that I had seen in reruns and my first introduction to homosexuality. Crystal played Jodie Dallas, an openly gay man, and my mother's favorite character. His sexuality was never explained to me; all I knew was that he loved men, this was called "gay," and once the episode was over we'd move on to a tea party on the back porch. "Gay" was just an identifying term for someone who loved the same gender; it was not something that I was ever taught was weird or wrong. It just was.
However, the problem with leaving the cushy, utopic world of my liberal parents and being thrust into the public school system was that I was forced to realize that what was never an issue to our family, was actually an issue for others. Instead of getting into something we all already know to be fact, let's just say that being different, on any level, is a curse in high school; the masses don't care for individuality. In other words, David didn't fair very well.
When we graduated in 1995, David went to school in Boston, and I went to the University of New Hampshire.
By the time we were both in our mid 20s, we were living in New York City, the closest thing to utopia in the United States. David was officially "out" and in a relationship, and I was living on Ramen soup as I did in college. We were where we were meant to be, and everything was beautiful.
Although New York City isn't exempt from ignorance, it is still one of the most liberal places in the world. It's hard for us liberal New Yorkers to watch the hatred that's spewed when it comes to gay rights and marriage equality in the same country in which we live, but at least we can find solace in the fight and it's successes. Needless to say, New York City has always been a fit for David and me.
Next month David will marry his partner L, in an intimate ceremony in western Massachusetts. It will be the first of what I assume will be many gay weddings in my future, but to me this will be the most important wedding I will ever attend. It won't be because of my love for David, the fact that he's found the one, or even because our beloved New England has come so far that gay marriage is legal.
For me, the legal union of these two men is not just historic in regards to equality, but personally historic. It's the gorgeous proof that humans, in all their fears and frailty, are capable of looking past themselves to support a right that perhaps they, themselves, as straight people, have taken for granted. It's about a man, whom I knew as a boy, coming out on top despite the narrow minds of our small town that tried to maim him. It's about a newfound belief in humanity that acceptance of those who may love differently than you is not just possible, but real and tangible. It's about reveling in the fruition of a dream that so many gay men and women never got to know; it's beauty at its highest.
I don't mean to disregard or even insult the weddings that I have attended before David's, or the ones that will follow, but in my life this event is paramount. It's personal; it's steeped in the history of a friendship back when the world was less forgiving, and the confirmation of social evolution. It gives me goosebumps.
I'm not one to cry at weddings, but I know the day I watch David and L say "I do," I will cry with a fervor I've most likely never known. It will be tears of happiness and joy for the friend I love, but more than anything, it will be tears of relief. Relief that, in a world often plagued by hate and ignorance, love won this round. And that, above all else, is truly beautiful.