Friday, June 26, 2015
Who is Charles? Just some kid I went to high school with, who was funny, smart, and a real math genius. Also did I mention he is the benchmark for me for demonstrating personal courage. Charles also had a secret, one I am sure many carried when they were in high school in 1987. Charles was all those things I said, but if you asked many of my classmates what they remember I don't think that is what they would list. They would say Charles was gay.
It wasn't a secret disclosed like so many uncomfortable high school truths by someone gossiping in the halls. Charles, at 18, decided he wanted an authentic life and he did not think he should have to hide who he loved. So at our senior prom Charles was escorted by his boy friend during senior walk. Word spread like wildfire, for a time in history we can barely remember pre-cellphones and Facebook. I am not sure how exactly I came to find out; I was not even at the prom.
Often I have thought of Charles and how much personal courage it took to take that walk of authenticity at the age of 18. I have asked myself if I have that same personal courage about anything. I am pretty sure I don't. Not only did he do this at 18, it was at a time when misconceptions and fears of AIDS ran wild. It was before his story could go viral and he could find legions of supporters and end up on the Ellen Show. It must have been so lonely and scary to walk in his truth.
Though I don't know where Charles is today I hope today he received the acceptance we did not even know how to give him. He already knew at 18, what it has taken this Country decades to understand. All Love is equal and in that equity we ourselves find love. I hope you can celebrate today, Charles and realize the walk you took 28 years ago ended at the steps of the Supreme Court.