Tom and I get this question a few times a month–sometimes more often. In Arizona, Illinois, or anywhere in between.
We could be at the check-out counter of a grocery store, a restaurant as we wait to be seated, or on the treadmill at the gym we frequent in Scottsdale as we were on Monday.
That’s when a friendly man, wearing a San Francisco Giants ball cap, popped the question. (No, he didn’t ask me to marry him.)
In 2023, I generally smile and respond as I did Monday with “No, we aren’t, though we get that question a lot.” And the conversation ends there.
Depending on my mood–and how much I choose to share my personal story (after all, I am a memoir writer)–I have often gone on to say, “Tom and I are married.” Or “Tom and I are partners.” Or “Tom and I have been together for more than twenty-five years.”
Along the way, we have never received any open backlash concerning our relationship (nor should we). Quite the opposite. We have made more friends of all kinds because of our openness and comfort in our skins. (By the way, it took me decades to get here and I’m not going back.)
With time and reflection, I’ve realized that the question is more of an observation in the world of people we contact who aren’t able to classify the intimacy or closeness they identify between two men standing before them.
Or maybe it’s an acknowledgment on a less significant level that we have picked up some mannerisms from one another that two brothers might have in common. However, we really don’t look alike.
At any rate, I will continue to live my open life as a gay man–proudly–in my community. I will continue writing about my experiences–positive and negative–as a gay man, a husband, a father of two adult sons, a neighbor, a friend.
I will continue singing on stage with the Phoenix Gay Men’s Chorus. As I write this, I have just completed drafting a script about five fictionalized characters living in the Phoenix LGBTQ community in 2023. Their dialogue will be the glue that ties together the music of our next concert: “Born To Be Brave”, June 3 and 4 at Tempe Center for the Arts.
I feel it is my duty to demonstrate that two men–a gay, married couple–don’t have to be blood brothers to love each other.
Especially in a country where some want to remove the books of gay authors from the shelves. Or try to erase the checkered history of our country on race relations because the truth is threatening to some. Or ban drag shows, because they view them as recruitment activities for current or future generations.
Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox now. But Tom and I aren’t brothers. We’re a gay couple living happily in 2023, and there are lots of us out in the world.
We’re making significant contributions. Loving our families. Loving our neighbors. Loving our friends. Loving the legacy, which we are leaving for future generations of children who need to know the truth about the past and the present. That there are all kinds of people in the world loving each other. And that’s just as it should be.