As a child, I loved listening to stories of people falling in love and living happily ever after (thanks, Disney). I watched my parents and grandparents have seemingly magical relationships that were so full of love and happiness ... and I knew that I wanted the same for myself. In my mind, I painted a love story that was much like the fairy tales and relationship models I had come to respect, and I couldn't wait for my own story to come true.
But as I came to terms with my sexuality and my identity as a gay man, I started to wonder if my love story was even possible. No longer was the image of a beautiful and supportive wife front and center. Fantasies of driving the kids to school on a crisp fall day were pushed aside. And coming home to my suburban castle, with my loving and supportive family waiting around the dinner table with a delicious home-cooked meal? Gone. With a heavy heart and great grief, I came to realize that those magical endings were only reserved for straight men and women. The laws and culture of our society dictated that I, as a gay man, could not marry and could not have children. And if I could not fulfill the basic tenants of the fantasy I'd been dreaming about for years, then how could I possibly get my happily ever after? My story of hopeful love turned into a story of grief and desires that could never, ever be fulfilled.
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So many of my fellow gay men and lesbian women came to realize the possibility of our traditional love stories would never true. We were forced to grow a thick armor around our hearts, to protect them from the piercing arrows of unfulfilled wishes. And we were forced to write a new version of our love stories — one that did not include monogamous partnership, and sometimes not even loving and long-term companionship or the ideals that defined a "traditional" family lifestyle.
Instead of starring as the beautiful princess who meets her prince charming and falls into a life filled with happiness, we were instead forced to write our story from the perspective of the wicked witch who can never know love, who becomes jaded and bitter at the thought of happy couples, and who denies our own desire to have that which we cannot have. We found ourselves on a solo journey through life, sprinkled here and there with sordid and barren love affairs, none of them lasting very long ... for how could they, when happily ever after just wasn't for us?
Fast forward a few years, and everything has changed. No longer are gay men and lesbian women banned from becoming legally married to their soul mates. Advances in adoption laws and surrogacy techniques have allowed us to have our own families, complete with our own beautiful children. Society has opened its arms to us, and welcomed us whole-heartedly into its cornucopia of love.
In the recent past, we have seen gay couples getting married, having children, and living out the "American Dream" of a white picket fence, two-point-five kids, and a golden retriever … just as any other heterosexual couple can. We witness gay men driving their children to school and attending PTA meetings, and homosexual couples holding hands as they shop for groceries at their neighborhood supermarket. We partake in weddings between man-and-man, and woman-and-woman, and we cry as they exchange those most sacred of vows to commit to each other for all time. We realize that the love stories that we grew up with are, finally, able to come true.
It's a beautiful development, but as with every change, both good and bad, comes a period of adjustment. The veil of foggy sadness and disappointment has been lifted, and the truth of our original fantasy shines like a light in the distance. Our eyes squint at its brightness — we're not used to seeing something so brilliant, and it takes some time for our sight to adjust.
We have spent so much time conditioning ourselves to the role of the wicked witch that we are scared and frightened at the thought of finally starring as the beautiful princess or the handsome prince. What does this mean for me? What do I really want? These questions never dawned on us, because we never had to answer them. But we have suddenly been given pen and paper, and told that we now possess the greatest gift of all — the ability, and the chance to rewrite our love story. As you blink at the blank page before you, realize that anything is possible. Will you stick with your old story ... or will you write an entirely new one? The choice is up to you.
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