A couple of years ago, in between HUMP! screenings at OTB, I took a walk and wound up in that park that's halfway up Queen Anne—you know, the one with the spectacular views of Elliott Bay and downtown, the one where a small crowd is always milling around taking pictures, the park that Frazier's condo must have looked out over, judging from the view. While I was standing in the park a limo pulled up and a wedding party spilled out. The bride and groom were there to pose for their wedding portrait. As they stood on the grass, holding each other while the photographer snapped away, the small crowd began to clap and cheer for the newlyweds. Everyone was beaming.
I was standing in the grass near a couple of guys that I didn't know personally, but they were definitely guys I knew. They were gay, middle-aged, probably a couple, out for a walk with their dogs. I caught the eye of one of the guys while we were clapping for the newly married straight couple.
"We're always happy for them," he said to me, smiling wanly. "Wouldn't it be nice if they could be happy for us?"
It’s a time-honored tradition at Navy homecomings—one lucky sailor is chosen to be first off the ship for the long-awaited kiss with a loved one. Today, for the first time, the happily reunited couple was gay. The dock landing ship Oak Hill has been gone for nearly three months, training with military allies in Central America. As the homecoming drew near, the crew and ship’s family readiness group sold $1 raffle tickets for the first kiss. Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta bought 50—which is actually fewer than many people buy, she said, so she was surprised Monday to find out she'd won. Her girlfriend of two years, Petty Officer 3rd Class Citlalic Snell, was waiting when she crossed the brow. They kissed. The crowd cheered.
And I thought of him when I watched this YouTube video—sent to me this morning by a "Savage Love" reader in Canada—of a flashmob wedding proposal in mall in a small town in Ontario:
"I don't want to be patronizing," writes a commenter at YouTube, "but this video is even more heartwarming knowing that it's a man proposing to another man. Not because I think gay people are 'cute' or whatever, but because the people around still cheered and celebrated their love. I'm a North Bay-ite and I'm very proud to say that North Bay often defies the typical 'small town' stereotypes. Very positive message for this Christmas."
And I thought of him and what he said—"wouldn't it be nice if they could be happy for us?"—when I re-read this story about temporary wedding chapels erected in Central Park this summer after gay marriage was legalized in New York:
Twenty-four gay and lesbian couples were wed Saturday under two “pop-up” chapels designed to celebrate the first full weekend of same-sex marriage in New York. With every “I do,” jubilant whoops and cheers burst from the crowd, a mix of friends, family and passers-by. The weddings, although held adjacent to the commotion of New York City’s Columbus Circle, felt comfortably ensconced in Central Park. The event’s organizers reported no protests or disturbances throughout the day.
The growing civil equality of gays and lesbians—from marriage equality in Canada and New York to the end of DADT in the USA—is revealing a lot of things. We're no more a threat to the institution of marriage, for instance, than we are to military order and morale. But it's also revealed that there are and always were a lot more of "them" out there who are happy for "us" than we ever realized. Not just our family and friends, but strangers in parks, our straight shipmates and their partners, and shoppers at the mall who stopped to watch some ladies in Christmas sweaters and sunglasses dance to Katy Perry and wound up clapping and cheering for two young gay men who want to spend the rest of their lives together.