Julie was scientific, logical, competitive, straight forward, to the point and rather brash. This just describes everything that my mother was not. Julie was a science teacher at the public middle and high schools. We were both in our mid to late twenties at the time of this story. Julie had been married once before. That only lasted for a few years and had ended for reasons that became understood much later. We met doing a mutual running and navigation sport called orienteering. This early point in a relationship can be a rather exciting time as most people know. Later, Julie and I raced dirt bike motorcycles together, she got me into playing hockey and was the only female in the league.
After quickly falling for each other, I chased her to Alaska where she did a summer volunteer project studying bears in the wild. While doing her study, and by sheer luck, she happened to play tour guide to Ronald and Nancy Reagan (after he was out of the white house). She was able to finagle me into a position as the volunteer photographer for the project, although my stint was only for a week or so. I proposed to her in a row boat on an Alaskan lake. The glamour of the situation might have been muted just a little by the golden retriever bouncing around in the boat between us. We got married about a year later.
As I have heard in many other relationships, we knew something was wrong by the time of our wedding. We liked each other though, had a lot of interests and activities in common, and figured that every relationship has some struggles. This was just a temporary difficulty that we would just work through. My motorcycling buddies thought that our relationship was proof that there is somebody for everybody.
Her first husband figured things out much more quickly than we did. When they split up, he told her that her next relationship was going to be with a women. Julie thought that he was just being very mean, something that he had a good capacity for. She did not take him seriously. ‘He is such a jerk’ she thought, ‘I am not a freak’.
Over the seven or eight years that we were together, we slowly figured things out. It is amazing how long it takes though, when people want to believe something else, and you have a relationship that is working on some levels.
In the end, however, the desire for a mate, a true wife, a true husband is very strong. Living with a male buddy/roommate all of my life could be tolerable, possibly, but I would always be longing. Longing for that connection and purpose that is encoded in the DNA of our beings. Julie had that need just as much as I did.
It was very hard for Julie and her family to accept that she was not “normal”. She had spent a good part of her life thinking that people who were like herself were abnormal. When she finally accepted it, a lot of the tension and turmoil in her life ended. She quickly fell in love with someone and they are still partners to this day, more than eighteen years later.
This is where I have great difficulty with religious conservatives. Gay people are portrayed as people “choosing” a naughty lifestyle, something they do willingly, something that they need to put an end to. Julie did not willingly choose the difficulty that she went through for so many years. She did not want our marriage to fail. We liked each other. She did not choose who she was in that respect. What do these people know about being gay? Do they truly expect others to live a tortured existence to satisfy their own sensibilities? Where does their expertise come from?