AIDS, DOMA, Gay Rights, Krissy Cummins, love, Marriage Equality, Prop. 8, STR8 against H8, US Supreme Court
Today and tomorrow are both very important to many Americans, as these are the days the United States Supreme Court will be reviewing California’s Prop 8 and DOMA. My lack of political knowledge is unfortunate so let me have someone else explain:
“Beginning this morning, the Supreme Court will hear two cases that could recognize the right of everyone, straight or gay, to marry the person they love. The first concerns California’s anti-gay Proposition 8, and could potentially extend the right to marry to same-sex couples in all fifty states. The second challenges the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and could end the federal government’s practice of denying equal benefits to couples who are legally married under state law.” – Think Progress, Everything You Need to Know About the Marriage Equality Cases At The Supreme Court, by Ian Millhiser
I’m a theatre arts major who lives in Los Angeles. It’s a no brainer that I have gay friends, both men and women. It also makes sense that the majority of my friends are pro “marriage equality.” Today my Facebook feed blew up with love and support for all of our friends who are gay and, maybe more importantly, the need to support equality for everyone. My friend Krissy Cummins, you remember her as one of the St. Patrick’s
Day fairies, wrote a bit of an experience she had. I reached out to see if she would be willing to be a guest blogger for today and share more of her story. My original thought was that I’d weave in my comments with Krissy’s. After reading her very emotional and thought-provoking story I refuse to dilute it with my silliness. Below is Krissy’s story that she wrote up specifically for you on this very important day:
Equality and Me: I Didn’t Ask For This.
In 1993 I lost my best friend and man I thought I’d spend my life with to a nasty little disease called AIDS. That’s a whole other story in itself but let’s suffice it to say he contracted it during a dark moment of (non-sexual) carelessness and carried the shame and secrecy of it up until a month before he died. I got well acquainted with this disease at a time when fear and hysteria accompanied it- we had kissed!- was I doomed? An HIV test (and educated doctors) assured me that I was not.
This loss shattered my life and ultimately resulted in me finding the balls to move to Hollywood and pursue my dreams. I’ve never gotten over it, as people who suffer this kind of loss understand; you just tuck it away and soldier on. But it left me forever linked to a community that otherwise wouldn’t have been more than a blip on my radar- sure gays had rights!- but now I was linked to them whether I liked it or not. In my despair, I joined a support group at APLA for people who had lost someone to AIDS. The group was mostly gay men who could’ve easily resented the young blonde girl who had never experienced any kind of bigotry or hatred like they had. But they lovingly embraced me and my story and gave it all the compassion and acknowledgement that they gave their own.
I grew close to one of the young men in the group. Like many of the other men there, his partner had died of AIDS and he had nursed him until the end. Hearing his story, and the final months he spent feeding, bathing, consoling, and loving his partner was very powerful for me. I remember being so struck by the quiet and holy emotion in the room: LOVE. What he shared with his partner had nothing to do with sex. Like many (married) couples over the years, they’d stopped having sex. His partner was dying and suffering, sex wasn’t even in the equation anymore! Similar (actually IDENTICAL) to ‘regular’ relationships/marriages (if they’re lucky), it had all boiled down to love and commitment.
My friend shared with the group his experience once his partner ended up in the hospital, about to pass away. The family showed up for the first time in years, and immediately had my friend banned from his partner’s bedside. The hospital staff was helpless to support him, he had no legal rights. This was gut wrenching for him as well as his dying partner. Can you even imagine this happening to you? How insane you would go? Imagine if you were dying and your most loved one wasn’t holding your hand, instead you had to look into the faces of those who had only hurt and betrayed you? My friend didn’t even get to say good-bye!
The family then changed the locks on the home my friend had shared with his partner for years; someone packed up a few of his things and left them on the front lawn. What struck me was the shame and sadness my friend carried, when he had nothing to be ashamed of. The barbaric and inhumane assholes that did this to him deserved all the shame. I’m happy to say the support group did help him realize this, and he wept with knowing he had a true love in this life. He passed away himself a year or two afterwards. I will never forget him or the lessons he gave me.
It’s OK if we don’t all believe the same things. You’re allowed to be down on gay people (just don’t expect me to drink with you). At least open your mind to see what’s happening here, all they want is to be able to have a family and the rights (and benefits!) that come with it. How does that hurt you? You don’t get any less of anything! Quit obsessing on what they’re doing in their bedrooms, you snooty snoots! All kinds of (straight!) people do all kinds of wacky stuff in their bedrooms, who cares?! I could punch people’s lights out over this small-minded horrifically cruel and disrespectful bullshit!
But instead I will BREATHE- and remember my friend and the way he silenced the room with his story, the courage of it, the grace, the way I felt humbled to be in its presence- and I will keep the faith that somehow the holiness of that love- and the love so many similar to him share- straight, gay or otherwise (EQUALITY!)- will prevail amidst all this madness. And of course I remember my own love that I lost in 1993- and all the lessons that loss forced upon me- forgive me but I’d throw them all down the shitter if I could have him back just for a day- but- alas, these lessons are mine, and I know I’m a better person for having known- and lost him.
Krissy – Thank you for sharing your story. I’m so proud to be able to call you my friend!