‘ ” ” ” ” ” ” ‘‘ ‘‘ ” ” ” ‘is for Mary.
We met in college. Mary was a semester ahead of me. She came to French class every morning. I thought she was a student teacher because Madame, our teacher, took time out to explain the pedagogical technique she used in that day’s lesson. “Time out for Mary,” Madame would say.
Mary and I became friends and began dating. We married following our second year of college. Education was our focus. We put each other through college. We took turns working and attending graduate school. We shared similar ideas about the quality of family life, not wanting to live out the scripts of our childhoods.
Our two daughters were happy, healthy, and beautiful. Our life together was good. Our only problem was the elephant in our bedroom: my denial of and inability to deal with my sexuality. A new job, a new challenge or activity, more education and another degree changed nothing. After eighteen years of marriage, we divorced.
I packed up my secret and moved to a new town and to a new life—a gay life—that I hid from Mary and my daughters. Keeping the secret was cowardice. I lived in fear of confronting the truth with Mary. At the same time, I knew that what I feared most was the way of my deliverance. The victim of my own duplicity, I behaved recklessly, unwittingly “outing” myself to my twelve-year old daughter.
Instead of enmity, Mary made acceptance of my being gay a positive experience for herself, for our daughters, and for me. Her unwavering support allowed me to explore the confusing and conflicting messages of my childhood and to learn the significance of being true to oneself.
Today, I owe the quality of my life and the love of my family to Mary.