Thirteen years ago today, on a rainy Saturday afternoon in San Francisco, I had the most amazing day of my life. I married my prince, my one true love, on a beautiful terrace in front of our closest family.
It was our second wedding – the first was a hastily-arranged affair four years earlier, when then-Mayor Gavin Newsom threw open the doors of City Hall for gay and lesbian couples for the first time. And while that one didn’t stick, this one did, and remains one of the sweetest and most precious moments of my life. I still remember vividly when it was over, and Mark and I were all alone for a moment, how we put our heads together and grinned and said “We did it!”
Mark and I met at the Pacific Center, Berkeley’s LGBTQ Center, back in 1992. It was a chance thing.
He’d just come off of a long, significant relationship with Frank, who passed away from HIV/AIDS. I was there on a lark for the first time. We both came for the Center’s Monday Rap Nights, a conversational event where local gay men could hang out and talk about life. I had just broken up with my first real boyfriend, Robert, after having come out just a few months before at the age of twenty-three.
Our discussion topic was “Breaking Up is Hard to Do,” and while I don’t remember much of the conversation itself, I do remember the moderator saying that guys often headed over to the Bison Brewery next door to talk afterwards. So on our way down the stairs, I gathered my courage and asked the beautiful man following me if he’d like to go talk. We did, and two weeks later, we’d moved in together. I think it was always meant to be.
Now twenty-nine years later, we find ourselves in the midst of a pandemic, a climate crisis, and social upheaval the likes of which hasn’t hit this nation since the Sixties. I long for those simpler days. I remember how my grandparents would say the same, and I understand them and their own professed longing for the times of their youth a little better.
These are the worst of times.
I wake up every day, grateful to have Mark beside me. To be each others’ support.
He was the one who pushed me to write when I had all but given up.
He’s the one who stands by me even now, believing in me as hundreds of agents turn me down.
And he’s the one who hugs me when I despair, and dredges up some hope from the depths of his soul to tell me it will all be okay.
How he does this, day after day, I don’t know. We’ve been through loss and disappointment, through bitter anger and a deep, soul-wrecking fear for tomorrow. And yet, somehow he manages to get up every morning to try again.
He inspires me, and his existence and presence by my side fills me with hope. As long as I have him, I can keep going, and keep doing what I do.
Maybe, someday, it will be enough.
I love you, Mark. Happy anniversary.