Gay marriage: 1st person 

Max Brantley gives his space today to an Arkansas Blog contributor who uses the pen name Mrs. Sistertoldja. She's a Little Rock woman who was married in a state where same-sex marriage is legal.

I have to admit, we've been in a giddy state since 9:08 a.m. on Wednesday. 

Thanks to Justice Anthony Kennedy's majority opinion, anti-gay marriage states should be falling like dominoes. Of course, it won't be by referendum. Southern states will be forced to do this by the courts, as usual. 

I'm a born-and-bred Southern belle from Alabama but I can't understand why Southerners keep making the same mistakes. Is hate and bigotry confined primarily to one part of the country?

Since the court ruled, it's even more unpopular to be a gay-hater than it was last week. Take my brother and mother, both of whom know I'm married. Last year at this time, neither was for marriage equality although both sent us a wedding gift — a coffee pot (her) and some steak knives (him). You know, the types of gifts you would send to a third cousin you don't particularly like.

I didn't get a gift from my other three siblings or my father because they are evangelical Christians who think I should be thrown in a lake of fire for being gay.

My brother and mother have called to acknowledge the Defense of Marriage Act ruling. The gist of the conversations was, "Good for you. Remember, we've been in your corner all along.''

WIES [Wife in Enlightened States] and I had a long conversation about this. My wife isn't a big fan of either of them, but basically said, "Oh, that's fine. Let them think they're progressive on this issue.''

She's probably right. BUT, now that it's not cool to be on the wrong side of history, I don't particularly like the fence-jumpers who were anti-gay last week and want to appear enlightened this week. It reminds me of the sorority sisters who showed up all decked out at the keg party, but who didn't participate in the car wash to buy the keg. 

Call me crazy, but I wanted my mom and brother to be supportive of my marriage because it was the right thing to do, not because a 75-year-old, white, straight, Republican man who was appointed by Ronald Reagan said it was.

Despite the break-neck speed of civil-rights developments, gay people over a certain age are permanently scarred. We were brought up to believe that being gay was akin to being a serial-killing, kitten-stomping devil. WIES' mother died three years ago and never fully accepted her daughter, even though WIES loved her unconditionally and supported her financially.

My parents confronted me at age 17 about being a lesbian when my girlfriend and I got caught kissing by a third party, who called both sets of parents.

Because we knew to have steady boyfriends at all times for cover, I said, "Jill was upset because she had just broken up with Bill. I was only hugging her because she was crying. As y'all know, Richard is my boyfriend. I would never kiss a girl. Yuck!''

I could see the relief in my parents' eyes. I then went about my business as an honor student, cheerleader-athlete who later went to Vanderbilt, while also maintaining a long-distance relationship with my girlfriend. Otherwise, I would've been sent to a "Pray the Gay Away Camp.'' After I got out of college, I knew I could never move home again and be who I was.

WIES and I live in progressive Hillcrest. We love to walk the trails around Allsopp Park and she'll grab my hand like any hetero spouse would. I immediately cringe and look around hoping we won't be caught. She'll say, "Nobody can see me holding your hand. It's okay. Relax. We're just holding hands.''

I'm pushing 48 and I don't know if I'll ever shake the feeling of having to hide. We older gays are scarred for life, but it's okay. Equality is at our door step.


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