Hard times are only the other side of good times
But if you ever wished hard times were gone
You know what it's like to wish good times would come
And don't it seem like a long time
Seem like a long time, seem like a long, long time (recorded by Rod Steward. Written by Theodore Grant Anderson)
|Larry in Provincetown 1997|
|On the beach in Provincetown 1997|
I am reflecting on the new year. 2017. After the disaster of an election in 2016 I can't help but wonder what will happen in the new year. Twenty years ago in 1997 I bought a house with my ex partner. Times were quite different. Two gay men buying a house together in the suburbs was an oddity in small town Catonsville, Md. Our realtor was very excited to be working with a gay couple. She sensed gay dollars. She was hoping for lots of referrals from our gay friends. Gay couples were a new commodity When we settled on the house she placed an advertisement in the local real estate paper with the head line Welcoming the new couple to the neighborhood with a photo she had taken of us. She had asked for a photo saying she always like to keep photos of her clients. We had no idea she was going to put our faces on the front page of the local real advertisement to find gay clients. We had mentioned to her we were having a commitment ceremony in a few months and she said she would love to attend, so we invited her. At the reception she handed out business cards to all of our friends. We were not very happy with her. And she received no referrals from us. After moving into our new house every time we met a new neighbor we always heard "Oh your the two guys who bought the house on the corner." We were an anomaly. We had a very curious neighbor across the street. We called her our Gladys Kravits. She tried every way possible to get invited into our house. She would drop by and knock our door on occasion to borrow something and would strain her neck trying to see inside of our house. We never let her in. A few years later we had the tail of a hurricane blow through our area and we lost our power in our house. Luckily for us she still had power on her side of the street. She offered to store our perishable food in her freezer. It was kind of her but it also gave her the chance to finally see inside our house. She rushed in to help us move our food and her neck was stretching in every direction to take in all the gayness. All she saw was a typical living room. Some family photos of us and out children. And she saw our kitchen and our refrigerator. I was never sure what she was expecting. It does seem like a long time ago.
I was still just coming out in 1997. I was 45. I had been out for a few years but it was still a growing process. My mother was not thrilled with my coming out. It was all but impossible for her to accept it. When my ex partner and I bought the house the reality of it all finally hit her She lived 40 minutes away in an even more conservative area than Catonsville named Havre de Grace, Md. She did not want anyone where she lived to know that I had moved to Catonsville with another man. She never came down to see my new house. My two daughters who lived with me would go back to Havre de Grace every weekend to visit with their mother. She would drive them back to my house on Sundays. My Aunt Louise would drive down with her so she would not have to drive back alone. My Aunt usually sat out in the car because, like my mother, she did want to come into my house. Finally one Sunday she had to come in because she needed to use the bathroom. I showed her around the house and then she left. The next day I received a phone call from my mother asking about the expensive plants I had in my house. I laughed and asked "What expensive plants." My mother said my Aunt told her we had some very nice expensive plants in our house. We had one large ficus tree in a planter that had belonged to my ex before we met. This did make me laugh. All that gay affluence. And yes it does seem like a long time ago.
My mother passed away a few years later and never did see my house. The relationship with my ex ended ten years later in 2006. I sold my half of the house to him and he took possession of that very expensive plant. Even this now seems like a long time ago.
My husband Mark and I met in 2007. We are celebrating ten years together this year. We were married in 2013. I would never have imagined this to be legal back in 1997. We bought our home together in 2012. Marks cousin was our realtor. Families are a lot more accepting now. Not one of our neighbors ever addressed us as the two guys who bought the house in the middle of the block. All the neighbors wave. One family brought us a plate of brownies when we moved in. The people directly next door come over in the summer and have beers with us on our deck. We were invited to a holiday dinner at their home last month. Times have changed.
Now after the elections this year and with the alt right conservatism flooding over the country we can't help but be nervous. But we will never hide again. I will never allow anyone to use my photo in their advertisements just because I am their gay client again. I will not be an anomaly again. We have fought many battles to be accepted over the years. We can not go backwards. I will not allow my gay daughter and her wife to be treated with the hatred and disgust I experienced. We will be fighting a battle these next four years but we will remain victorious.
They joking say domesticity isn't pretty. But it beats the hell out of just being "those two guys who bought the house on the corner."