Try Walking a Mile in a Gay Man's Shoes

| by

Try this hypothetical situation on for size.

You were born straight in a world that is—at least—90% gay. You're told from a very young age that the natural order of things is for you to find and settle down with a nice young man. Except you have a crush on that sweet young lady in your eighth grade class. You both go on to high school together, where you find out she's straight, too. 

You fall deeply in love, but you can't bring her to homecoming... It's forbidden to go to school events as an opposite-sex couple. So, you go in matched tuxes with your male best friend instead. Your moms think the two of you are dating and tell you both that you're just the cutest couple ever.You cringe inside. A lot.

It's now graduation. You've been seeing a lot of her lately, but no one aside from a few close friends and one supportive teacher knows about it. It's killing you inside to lie to your mothers but you know they would both be so disappointed to find out you were straight. 

Your best friend is covering for you a lot, and you feel a little guilty about that, too. You're pretty sure that if you came out, they wouldn't even let you walk the stage and graduate with your classmates. Even if most of them would (probably) accept you for who you are. Their parents wouldn't. Not all of them. If you came out, you would have been excluded from so much in high school, or at least that's what you tell yourself.

It's college. You both ended up at the same school, in the same dorm. She's just a few doors down from you. One night, your roommate asks for some privacy, which you gladly grant. You crash with your girlfriend that night, but her roommate walks in and finds the two of you making out. Caught, you freeze up in a moment of sheer terror and don't know what to say, but her roommate is surprisingly unaffected. After a long conversation with your girlfriend, you realize you've been making a lot of unhealthy decisions based on fear and guilt, and so decide it's time to come out.

Your parents are devastated. 

They change the locks and don't speak to you for a month. Just before Christmas, one of your moms calls and is sobbing. She doesn't understand, but she knows that she loves you and missses you. She wants you to come home for Christmas.

It's difficult with the family. Your mother refuses to allow you to bring your girlfriend to any family events, even though your siblings and cousins are allowed to bring theirs. It's because you're straight, your mother explains to you. We just can't send you the wrong message that we approve of this lifestyle choice you've made.

Eventually, you graduate college. You proposed to your girlfriend during senior year, over Christmas break. She's going on to law school in Boston, so you've got a lot to do with planning for the move and the wedding (straight marriage is legal now, at least in Massachusetts) and finding a job. In the back of your mind lingers disappointment that much of your family won't be there for the wedding. 

It's not the distance, as they only live a hundred miles away from Boston.  It's that they just cannot bring themselves to support you in what they see as a deviant lifestyle choice.  You've tried, over the years to explain that it's not a choice. They don't listen. They rarely do, when it comes to something that contradicts what they've always known to be true. 

It's now your wedding day. Her family is all there, even her very conservative uncle. Perhaps inviting him wasn't the best idea, but you're not really thinking about that right now. You're figuring out why your tux is longer in one leg than the other. Your best friend saves the day by adjusting the hem with some nearby pins.

A quick hug and he asks you if you're ok. You tell him you are, but he's not convinced. Less than half of your extended family showed up and your parents aren't among them. You admit your disappointment and he promises to TP their house when he gets back home. You hope he's kidding, but you never know.

The wedding was great. Law school is tough on your girlfriend, so you take her on a trip out west.  While hiking, she's bit by a snake and needs immediate medical attention. A park ranger calls for help and she is sent to the nearest hospital. She's having a bad reaction to the venom and you're deeply concerned.  ou arrive at the hospital by car fifteen minutes after she got there by medevac.  Your only thought is to get to her side and make sure she's alright.

A nurse informs you that only family is allowed in the ER. You inform her that you're married and she responds that the state of Utah does not recognize your marriage and so she doesn't have to either.