Ten Years of Marriage Equality in Massachusetts
May 23, 2014 by Guest contributor
Post submitted by Kevin Duthie, a carpenter at the Provincetown Human Rights Campaign Action Center & Store.
I remember ten years ago standing outside town hall in Provincetown (Ptown) watching the firstLGBT couples in the nation finally get married. There was a huge crowd. Cheering as each couple came out of town hall. It was a day. It was a day to remember.
And I think I need a spa day. It's been two months of grinding work out. I’m not sure what a spa day is really. But I hear other folks talk of taking a spa day and as much as I don’t really think I’m a “spa day” kind of guy, I like the whole “idea” of a spa day. Sort of like…I like the whole “idea” of being happily married and in love…but I’m not sure I could actually pull it off. It would take a special guy because I like my peace and time alone. But I envy those who can actually do this. Take a spa day and also be married and happy and have someone looking over your shoulder for the rest of your life. I envy them.
I remember the last 30 years of wanting to be in love with the guy of my dreams. And I’ve been “in love” before. I know what it feels like. And recently I’ve been under the influence of thinking ‘screw love.’ It’s exhausting. Disappointing and will be until the end of me. Go for the money! Shoot I’m too old now...but I had my chances...
And then, something happened yesterday. One of my many jobs in this all too crazy race for carpenters, electricians, plumbers etc was to get everything done before Memorial Day in a seaside town that makes its money off of a very short warm weather calendar. And I think I totally lost my mind a few days ago. I had been burning the candle at both ends for months. I lost it. So many jobs … so little time. The pressure overwhelmed me. And you have a mini-total freak out…and get a few good nights of sleep and go on.
And then, everything changed. I was working at HRC in Ptown on a huge expansion and renovation that I’ve been a part of the past few months. It’s been stressful at times for everyone involved. And then yesterday, as my tools were all set up on the busiest street in Ptown (Commercial Street,) I was making a total mess by cutting wood.
And two women walk into the store in full wedding dresses with their bouquets. They had just gotten married. And I listened to the conversation like a fly on the wall. Or a carpenter fixing stuff as everyone else moves around him with their own lives. But what I heard was so touching. “Did you just get married now? Or are you going to get married?” “Yes, we just got married and this is the first place we came.”
HRC, Human Rights Campaign, has been in existence for many years. And it was in that moment with these two women getting married I knew I was working on something so much bigger than just a store. I was struck by the significance of this store and what it means to so many people. Because even if you’re LGBT and getting married in a LGBT town and in Massachusetts where same-sex marriage has been going on for ten years, there’s still this feeling of weirdness. In a couple generations this won’t be a problem. But right now, HRC, and walking into HRC, represents so much more to people. It’s a place where as soon as you get through the doors you know you are accepted.
It’s a very cool to be the carpenter watching this happen. As folks stroll in, LGBT and not, it is easy to breathe a sigh of relief just for a few seconds- a big in and out. As far as air goes to the lungs and to the heart. Mostly the heart.
And so when folks have just gotten married and decide to bolt to HRC and walk around to feel accepted, I feel like I’m witnessing a miracle. And my tools are in the way of everyone. The saw dust is flying. The extension cord I keep trying to make sure no one trips over it. And it doesn’t matter.
I have been working on something so much bigger than me. It’s in heart. And I feel grateful to have been a part of it, this safe place within a safe community. Safe within safe. For some LGBT folks safety equals love. And for two women to put on their wedding dresses and hold their bouquet, as hard as that may have been for them, are able to just celebrate their love for each other in a country where we are going through a transition. But heck, not me! My mom was gay when I was 11. But for others, it’s tough. And liberating. And weird. And they come to HRC to be ok, to breathe a sigh of relief, even if they know when they leave it’s back to the real world.
So I am grateful to Cathy Reno, the Manager of HRC for being who she is and including me in this renovation of the store in Ptown. As I realized yesterday this store is much more than just a store. As two women come in after their wedding, I realize it is a place for folks to exhale after making a big decision. It is a place where folks stop in constantly to say hi and bring their dogs in or chat for a bit. After a long fight toward loving who they love they are able to have it be accepted.
For so many people who visit here, it’s their start. Before they go back to the state they live in and the community they live in. It’s a peaceful haven before heading back into the real world. It’s a place where folks can simply exhale.
How great is that.