It’s rather cold and raining on this Sunday morning. Still, I’m sitting at my desk, looking out over the grey gloom, and brimming with gratitude. I’ve recently been thinking about how lucky I am, being an openly gay man, living in this time in American history where gay rights is front and center in our political landscape. This entire gay-rights movement started at a time when I was discovering that I was gay, and has been a part of my life, my struggle, for forty years.
I’ve seldom marched in picket lines and I’ve never been bashed in the head with billy-clubs, but I’ve always been part of the fight. It was impossible to avoid it while living in San Francisco. I’ve worked with AIDS organizations and marched in countless Gay-Pride parades, but the thing I’ve done constantly through out my life to advance the rights of gay and lesbian people is to live openly, to get in everybody’s face and say “This is who I am and I’m not about to change, so deal with it!”
I must confess, I’m very proud of the fact that Herman and I were the first male couple legally wed in Marin County, California. We did that solely to make a political statement. We had already lived together for fifteen years and certainly didn’t feel the need for a piece of paper from the state to legitimize our relationship, but that was our way to advance this equality movement. It was this same idea that led me in 1999 to legally change my last name to “Chin” so that Herman and I would have the same family name. We wanted everyone to realize, even back then, that we were a wedded couple.
I never in my younger life dreamed that I would actually be married in the eyes of the state, or that gays and lesbians would be allowed to openly serve in the military. The strides we have all made are tremendous, even though the fight continues. And I welcome the opportunity to do more.
For the first time in my life, I’m actually beginning to think that I will see the end of discrimination toward my queer brothers and sisters in this country, and I’m feeling immensely grateful that I’ve played a small but important part in making that happen. Yes, it is a fantastic time to be gay, or even gay friendly.