Letter From New York 06 26 15 Ruminating on Supreme Court Decisions…

It is about 11:30 AM as I begin to write today’s blog. Yesterday, I simply ran out of time and had to let it go though it niggled at me through the night. Yesterday saw Obamacare upheld by the Supreme Court, something that I was unsure would happen. The decision was 6 to 3 to uphold the law.

I was glad the law was upheld. I think it is a flawed law and that we should have something that more resembles universal health care but it is far better than the nothing we had before it. The victory in the Supreme Court has not squelched Republican’s desire to repeal the law, which they might get to do if a Republican is elected President. If they do, I hope they will have something in the wings to replace it. Right now, I don’t think they do.

This morning, as I was sitting doing emails, I received one from the Democratic Party announcing that the Supreme Court had ruled in favor of gay marriage by a vote of 5 to 4. As it was a notice that came from someone other than a news organization, I went online to find that, indeed, it was true. Gay marriage is now the law of the land.

My friend Lionel texted me, crying as he wrote the text, rejoicing and a bit unbelieving. My oldest friend in the world, Sarah Malone, phoned me and we discussed the ruling. She told me that Texas is already trying to wiggle out some way though I haven’t seen that anywhere but it doesn’t surprise me if they were.

I am unbelieving. I did not actually think, until the last few years, that this would ever happen in my lifetime. I grew up and began to deal with the fact I was gay about the time Gay Lib was beginning to form as a movement. I was not active in the movement; I was working on building some sort of career.

In 1983, a senior executive in the company I was working for told me that I would be fired if it were discovered I was gay. In another company in the 80’s, I was under pressure to get married. It was clear that unless I was, I would not progress up management’s ranks. The President and CEO was very conservative. He was generous to a gay employee who contracted AIDS, and seemed to think it was fine in the creative divisions of the company but I was on the business side. It was never articulated directly but there are ways of communicating that do not include direct conversation.

When I was at Discovery in the 1990’s, I commented to the President of the time, Ruth Otte, that Discovery seemed very homophobic. She agreed but nothing changed until the very late 1990’s or early 2000’s, under then CEO Judith McHale.

I never lied but never admitted I was gay. I cleverly skirted the topic. Not necessarily appearing gay, I had female friends who accompanied me when it was expected I would appear with a date. When asked, I acknowledged but never volunteered. That was probably cowardly.

I grew up in a Midwestern Catholic family and it was clear to me that the worse thing a man could be was gay. It may be that as I grew into childhood, my father sensed I was different and that accelerated his emotional withdrawal from me.

When I was in high school, I was very lucky. I was never bullied and called names. No one ever called me “fag” or any derogative. Looking back, I find it amazing. Fragile as I was in high school, I’m not sure I would have survived the bullying that seems to occur so regularly today.

In the late 1990’s, in a long-term relationship, I became more comfortable with my place in the world. When accepting the job at the Internet start-up, Sabela, I made it clear to James Green, the CEO, I was gay. He shrugged his shoulders, smiled and said he already knew.

Telling my friend Jeffrey was difficult but he responded generously, as did most of my friends.

John McCormick, Sarah’s father, and I were having dinner with his grandson, Joe Eros, the night before Joe was entering the military, shortly before the invasion of Iraq. Joe left to celebrate with some friends and I got up to go but John motioned me down and ordered us another round of drinks. John was a deeply conservative Catholic, or so I thought. He told me that night he had know for a long time and that he needed to know that I knew he loved me, regardless of my sexuality.

It was a tremendous blessing. I cried a little on the train back into New York City.

My brother and I came to peace with it. My sister is uncomfortable but we still talk regularly and have a better relationship than ever. When I was telling my family, my mother was in a multi-level health crisis and so we never discussed it. When she uttered homophobic comments, I repudiated them but never told her I was gay.

Less emotional than many today, I acknowledge that we have crossed a milestone but it will not immediately eliminate homophobia. It may even strengthen it in places. Bu it seems more and more are accepting; going into today, a poll indicated that 57% of Americans believed the Supreme Court should rule the way it did.

It has been a huge journey and the journey isn’t over. But it is so much better than it was.

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2 Responses to “Letter From New York 06 26 15 Ruminating on Supreme Court Decisions…”

  1. Phil Rhode Says:

    Hey Mat. I never thought anything of it in high school. I heard rumours but didn’t care. I do remember wishing I had your acting ability. My dad was extremely homophobic and bigoted. I threw a cast party once and he almost wouldn’t let Mr. Colston in the house because he thought he was mulatto and that he acted “queer”. I think that was the first time I ever stood up to my dad. Your mom’s reaction to your secret sounds like my mom’s reaction when I told her I am alcoholic. She wanted to know how I got it and who gave it to me. Anyhow, I think yesterday and today have been great days for America. The fight isn’t over but at least a couple battles have been won.

  2. tombers Says:

    Phil, thank you so much for your comment. I appreciate that you didn’t care and am glad that the rumors did not result in bullying. And thank you for thinking I had acting ability. If/when I retire, I may take that up again.

    It is amazing the change that has happened between your father’s time and now. I am so glad you stood up to him. I wonder if I was at the party?

    Alcoholic? What burdens and paths we carry and follow in our life. I hope it has not been too hard.

    Yes, the battles have been won and the fight is not over.

    I am so appreciative you found me and my blog and that you have taken the time to comment and share. It is something for which I am grateful.

    Mat

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