Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Post by Lead Organizer Kate McDonough, coordinator of our Pride in the Pulpit program.
In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, here is a story of romance:
Last New Year’s Eve I was at a Glitter and Glamour-themed house party. I was standing by the bar holding a drink called a “glitter bomb” and staring at the front door as party guests made their grand entrances. The door swung open and a dandy entourage strolled in, each one wearing an outfit that incorporated suspenders and a bowtie. The door was about to close when suddenly a black-gloved hand stopped and slowly pushed it back open to reveal an elegant individual wearing a back shimmering dress and gold glitter eye makeup.
An excitable friend was standing next to me and I could tell that he was overwhelmed, “Look at those people, Kate—everyone is gorgeous!” I opened my mouth to respond, when suddenly he grabbed my arm and shouted, “Oh my god that boy is beautiful!” I turned around and within a matter of seconds the entire room blurred and I could no longer hear the voices of the people around me. All I could see was a handsome guy standing in front of me with a teal button down shirt that brought out the blue in his eyes and a gray vest. I was brought back into the party by the sound of my own voice: “Yes, I think so, too.” This was the first time I laid eyes on Shawn, my boyfriend, who happens to be a transgender man.
Shawn works in childcare and is the most beautiful, tender soul that I’ve ever encountered. Even during the most stressful days, Shawn can find a way to make me smile. I feel very lucky to be with him, but there are times when I fear for his safety. Although Shawn presents as male, many people have a hard time figuring out what his gender is. On good days all he’ll receive is a dirty look; on bad days it’s a dirty look that quickly becomes a hostile remark. I worry because there is no statewide law protecting Shawn from discrimination. I worry because all he has to do is be in the wrong place at the wrong time and he won’t even have the law to protect him. I have no words for what it feels like to care for someone so much and live with the fear that they could be harmed simply for existing.
As we celebrate our first Valentine’s Day in a post-marriage equality New York, I’d like to congratulate all the couples who are finally experiencing this day as legally married. Happy Valentine’s Day from the very bottom of my heart. However, I think it’s important keep in mind that we are not done. Even with marriage equality, couples like Shawn and me do not have the protections needed to keep our families safe and intact. Furthermore, until the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is repealed, same-sex couples in New York State are essentially only half married. They still don’t have access to the federal rights and responsibilities that come with marriage. Shawn was my New Year’s kiss. The moment his lips touched mine I remember thinking, “I didn’t even know I was looking for you, but I think I just found you.”