Folks keep asking if I feel differently now that I’ve married my partner of eleven years. In fact, I’m asked so frequently that I giggle a bit each time. The truth is, I felt different the very instant I knew we were going to get married. In that moment, as small and brief as it was, there was a literal shift in the way I viewed our relationship and how I viewed myself in this world. When I was growing up in that small Baptist church up in the Delta, I believe what I felt was referred to as “a peace that passes all understanding.” This respite from the angst of a very real discrimination and the hopes of achieving equality allowed me to step away from social media and enjoy the eight weeks leading up to our union.
In the days immediately after the Supreme Court handed down the decisions on Prop 8 and DOMA, Justin and I talked about going to the courthouse while visiting his father in Long Beach, California. What we couldn’t know is that his father, Bill, and stepmother, Donna, were dreaming up a poolside ceremony at their lovely home. What we’d intended to be “all business” had now turned into a full-blown celebration of our love for each other. That, in itself, should be enough to move anyone’s heart, but knowing we’d be surrounded by the friends and family Justin had grown up with during summers in California made it all the more special.
As I counted the days until the trip to the land of movie stars and In-N-Out burgers, this sense of calm inspired more than one friend to inquire about my absence from Facebook and Twitter. A close friend even worried that I was in a funk.
“Eddie, you seem detached.” He’d said “Are you alright?”
Of course I was alright. I was better than alright. I was, for the first time in my life, able to separate myself from feelings of dissatisfaction and latch on to a more complete and concrete hope for my future. During those two months I was able to live in-the-moment and I relished every second spent with friends and well-wishers. I can honestly say I’ve never been happier in my life.
On the evening of our union, Shari, the officiant conducting the ceremony, acknowledged and praised the work we’d already done in the previous eleven years as a couple, then marked the moment when our relationship became a marriage. It was another unexpected shift deep inside. There, looking into the eyes of the man I love, I felt free of despair and was made whole again, and Justin was as beautiful as the first time I laid eyes on him. That feeling has not left me, as I feared it might-like a child that misplaces a beloved toy. Instead, it’s grown stronger- more powerful-and I know that it is a part of who I am now.
Yes, there is much work to be done here in Mississippi and the rest of the nation, but I can’t help but believe the trajectory of equality has been set. We are hurtling forward into a world where there is a place for all of us LGBT folk. I know it to be true just as a child who’s never tasted disappointment believes in goodness.
I’ve set down that skeptical heart that burdened me and replaced it with the heart of a child. I believe in love, the kind of love that moves people to do good and believe beautiful things can and will happen. I’ve seen it happen firsthand.