I couldn’t let the first day of gay marriage in the state of Connecticut pass without a bit of reflection.
Having grown up in Connecticut (run-down mill town Connecticut, not Bette Davis movie Connecticut), it’s astonishing to see the progress that’s been made in the decades since I’ve lived there. The town I grew up in, Winsted, was only about 125 miles from both New York and Boston, but culturally, it was as far away as Wasilla.
My existence there was so sheltered, I grew up literally not knowing that there was such a thing as a gay person. In junior high school, I remember stumbling upon a definition of “homosexual” in a dictionary I had and feeling that shameful sense of self-recognition. I literally had no information — no Ellen, no Will and Grace, no Advocate. Where I came from, the “love that dare not speak its name” didn’t even know it had a name. I didn’t exactly pretend to be straight, but rather I simply didn’t know that there were any other viable options.
In my late teens, I met someone who was openly gay and whose gaydar was well-tuned. I pretended that my curiosity was purely sociological when he asked me to accompany him to a meeting of the Kalos Society in Hartford, which at the time was equal parts social group, political activism, and group therapy. Afterwards, my eyes were agog when members of the group went to The Warehouse, a gay club that I remember being snugly and discreetly nestled under an entrance ramp to Interstate 84. Until that night, not only did I not know that there was such a thing as a gay bar, I also didn’t know that there were enough homosexuals in the world to keep a gay business of any type afloat.
In the wake of Prop 8’s passage in California, it’s easy to think that we haven’t come very far. But, over the long haul, we’ve made huge progress. Witness Connecticut.