Maybe I Do And Maybe I Don't

Gays get the freedom to marry—and for some, the freedom not to

She came to visit Kawane, supposedly just for a weekend, in June of 2009. But when she first saw Kawane in the Port Authority, "I held on to her and I never let go!" Jeanette says. She never went back to Indiana, and they've lived together ever since.

Hungry for a kind of stability they'd never known in a relationship, the women quickly meshed their families like a multicultural, lesbian version of the Brady Bunch, but on a smaller scale. Kawane has yet to meet Jeanette's now 19-year-old son, who just finished high school (and who will be paying for college by working as a professional mixed martial arts cage fighter), but they are heading to Washington State soon to introduce him to his stepsister.

When Don't Ask, Don't Tell is officially ended in September, Jeanette wants to re-enlist and demand base housing for her wife and their daughter. She tears up describing a situation in the hospital in which she and Kawane were briefly kept apart until they threatened to get a lawyer, her face twitching with rage.

Jeanette and Kawane at their bachelorette party the week before their wedding.
C.S. Muncy
Jeanette and Kawane at their bachelorette party the week before their wedding.
Outside the Manhattan Marriage Bureau, demonstrators for and against same-sex marriage made their voices heard the first day of legalization.
C.S. Muncy
Outside the Manhattan Marriage Bureau, demonstrators for and against same-sex marriage made their voices heard the first day of legalization.

"That's part of the reason I am so excited to get married," she says.

"I'll always be here for you," Jeanette reassures Kawane. "I ain't ever letting you go."

"And I'll always be here for you," Kawane says, turning and looking into her eyes. "Always."

Kevin and Howard met nearly a decade ago, in a support group for HIV-positive men with visual impairment.

Kevin, a Texas native who came to New York and worked as a flight attendant in the '80s, had the first symptoms of vision loss in 1996, while working for Continental.

"I kept batting around my face," he says, "and my friend said, 'What are you doing?' And I said, 'I'm swatting that damn fly away,' and she said, 'Uh, there's no fly here.'"

The "floating spots" he saw were the first symptoms of cytomegalovirus retinitis, also known as CMV. "Most people carry CMV in their bodies, but your immune system can fight it off," Kevin explains.

But Kevin's immune system had been compromised for some time. He had been diagnosed with HIV in 1991.

In the '90s, Kevin says, the life span for someone with a CMV diagnosis was about 18 months. The disease "typically manifests in the retina, as it does with me, or systematically, in your spine and nervous system, which is what my late partner had," he says.

The good news for Kevin was that, through oral medication, time-released implants injected directly into his eyes, and about a dozen surgeries, he's been able to stay alive and retain some vision. (It didn't hurt having doctors "who were well connected and could get me on drugs—some which were in trials, some which were in pre-trial clinical studies—who would say to me, 'The rabbit hasn't died yet. Do you want to give this a try?' ")

Kevin's doctors were able to slow down the virus, but not stop it altogether. For years, every time his doctors saw him, "they assumed it was the last time they'd ever see me."

By 1999, Kevin had lost all vision in his left eye. When he last drove a car the year before, he did so by following the taillights of the vehicle in front of him. His only vision left was 20/40 in his right eye (which, "strangely enough, is good enough to legally drive" in New Jersey).

Three years earlier, Kevin's former partner, David, lost his life when CMV attacked his nervous system, not just his eyes.

During a brief stint at New York Hospital, when "David made me promise I wouldn't let him die in the hospital," Kevin stayed overnight with David in his room, sometimes even curling up in bed with him.

"The staff there was great" and treated them "as if we were married," Kevin says. Before David was admitted, they had gone to a legal workshop to learn how to give Kevin whatever limited rights he could have about choices regarding David's life. Still, Kevin knew they were not married, and he was fully aware that if David's family argued over medical decisions, or fought his promise "not to let David be buried in North Carolina," he'd end up in court and would probably lose. (Fortunately they didn't interfere, and Kevin and a friend took care of David in his apartment until the very end.)

Howard's visual impairment is completely different, and has nothing to do with AIDS: He was born this way. "Both of my parents were carriers of a rare genetic defect, which I was lucky enough to get," he says, even though his brother didn't. His parents were kind of hippies, and when he was about four years old, "they started noticing I was bumping into walls" and finally got him checked out.

"Remember biology from school?" he asks. "There are cones and rods in your eyes. Cones are for day vision and color vision, and rods are for night vision and peripheral vision. And I don't have any cones," he says.

Sitting in a dimly lit room at dusk, he says, "I see really well right now, when the rods are working and I don't see any bright light at all." By seeing "well," his vision is 20/200, at best. It's colorless, like "watching a black-and-white movie."

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30 comments
BlackHeywood
BlackHeywood

Great article Howard & Kevin. I wish you guys the best. Howard is also a great pal. I am honored to call him my friend.

Jessica
Jessica

Maybe I will be sucessful and Maybe I will not, I think there are too many 'Maybes', they are determined by yourself...

Ken & David
Ken & David

Hello Boys

I am very proud of your fight for equality. You know in your hearts you have done the right action. Now, just follow that heart beat again and however you decide to continue to lead your lives - it will be right again.

Much love,David & KenLondon

Avon
Avon

Comments that simply object to the reality of the world are a waste of time.

For example, King Henry VIII may be proof positive that opposite-sex relationships lead to syphilis, or that re-marriage is an abomination (he murdered two of his wives, and the others weren't too happy either), but what are we going to DO about it? I'm staying straight anyway.

What I'd like to see is more comments on the news story, and less about what the facts should have been!

Rev. Charles D
Rev. Charles D

Avoid homosexuality. It leads to Aids. These two men both had gay lovers who died from aids. It is very common. Have some sense.

Gay Atheist
Gay Atheist

Religion is the enemy. The future of mankind belongs to cultures that stand up to it. China - but not India.

Rev. Charles D
Rev. Charles D

Gay marriage is an abomination.

Cupidsarrow136
Cupidsarrow136

Keep that to yourself, in your world. Others is a brand new life.

Rev. Charles D
Rev. Charles D

There is nothing new about homosexuality. God reigned fire and brimstone down on the homosexuals in Sodom and Gomorrah.

Barbsacher
Barbsacher

Kevin and Howard, you guys are an amazing example of perseverance both in your private lives and speaking up in and for the gay community. I am proud and honored to be your friend.

wait500
wait500

They sound like incredibly messed up people - haven't met each other's kids, bisexuality, kids out of wedlock, AIDS, being a slut. I wouldn't want to resemble either couple in any way. Love in this case seems rooted in pathology not homophobia although most readers want to believe that these people suffered due to homophobia - not true!

I love how VV puts articles like this about ambivalence toward gay marriage on its cover after the passage of gay marriage. Nothing else to write about, I guess.

The good thing about the passage of gay marriage is it will take a lot of the fire out of the cause which is great. With the passage of gay marraige and its decreasing relevance, the true unsatisfying nature of trying to equate gay with straight will surface and many gay men and women will have to face their own internal dilemmas.

IAttackCowards
IAttackCowards

LOL!! You're clearly the only one here with a personal dilemma. DOMA will be gone soon, and when prop 8 gets to the supreme court, then your tiny head will explode. Not to worry, it' won't make much of a mess.

Edward
Edward

Gay marriage passed and my head didn't explode. By the way, these are two couples I still do not want to resemble in any way. No dilemma for me.

The dilemma for these people is a true lack of a satisfying life premised on the false belief that external legal approval will lead to internal acceptance.

You're smug and immature - oh, wait, that about defines the gay community, emotionally stunted, internally hurting people demanding the world see things their (minority) view.

Its a good thing there is no lineage between gay generations so that today's blather will become meaningless in the future.

Kbeauchamp
Kbeauchamp

Great article. Kevin and Howard are two of the most courageous guys I know, and I could not be prouder of them!

Keri
Keri

i love my brother kevin and his partner howard :)))) they are beyond awesome!!!

MarioAguilarPDX
MarioAguilarPDX

Having the same legal rights as everyone else is extremely necessary. How would you like it if you were a second class citizen?

the3rdcoming
the3rdcoming

The more you read what homosexuals are talking about and how they're talking about it, gives a clear indication that homosexuals seriously need psychological help.They figured that once this so-called marriage equality bill was passed, it would finally give them the sense of normalcy, comfort and validation of their lifestyle, but as we can see, there is no validation in the contradiction of nature. Nurture" and "nature" are two completely different things.

Oh well, too bad. Back to reality, huh?.

MarioAguilarPDX
MarioAguilarPDX

What a stupid thing to say. You need psychological help. Don't ever assume you know anything about the GLBTQ community.

Avon
Avon

My sister and her partner were content to be unmarried forever. They felt they'd gotten all the needed legal documents for full equality, even after they had a child. Living in a state that legalized same-sex marriage made no difference to them. Religion gave them no reason to want marriage, and feminism militated against even considering it. But when their child reached school age and asked, "Hey, all my friends' parents are married, why aren't you?" and continued to make plain the discomfort of being different than other families in that way, they reconsidered. The viewpoint of a child who, in a short lifetime, had never known anything else but equality for same-sex marriages ended up opening their own eyes. Even if only for the sake of their child's feeling of wholeness and belonging, they went to City Hall, said their vows, and got their certificate - with their child all dressed up and acting as the official photographer. I thought it was a lovely story. Their strong family - now recognized as such by their State - has enriched my own heterosexual marriage. How anyone can seriously believe marriages such as theirs to be a threat to anyone, I'm at a loss to explain.

Nikodisias Papalapsuslos
Nikodisias Papalapsuslos

YES , WE CAN...YES , WE CAN...WE WILL WIN IN WAR ON TERROR (30 whities or what are terrorists will never come back alive...thank you lord....aaamen).

What do you mean tragedy! It was just a birthday present for planet apes president !!! That's all ! Feels great to flip hamburgers and hip hop atop of good news...makes you feel vibrant and energized !!!

ARIZONA = UTOYA = GOVERNMENT‘S "AFTERLIFE" CASH & $$ FLASH MOB (there was no shooting in Utoya or Arizona, but tear gas and theater instead on faces of multiculturalism maniacs..your guilt or blame and shame weapon against us and our families in our own countries atop of forceful unemployment during so called "ECONOMIC CRISES" during which third world foreigners are allowed to rape, kill, and still is nothing else but fast way to early retirements for government related criminals/ terrorists...$$$ extra bonuses, and newly issued state identities while calling you a terrorists) !!! http://stateofterror.blogspot.... or http://stateofterror.wordpress...

OBAMA = STALIN = BUSH or USA = SOVIET UNION http://avsecbostjan.blogspot.c... or http://avsecbostjan.wordpress.... Whitie is fighting war on terrorism just to come home and be pronounced as terrorist...turned in Timothy, jobless, homeless ...YESSS, WE CAN...YESSS, WE CAN...GABBY OPENED HER EYES (Obaminator’s psychotic speech in Tucson = failed “Apocalypse Now“)

WAKE-UP !!! WAKE UP PEOPLE BEFORE IT GETS ALL TO LATE ON PLANET APES !!! TEARS WON'T DO YOU ANY GOOD !!! AS BUSH STATED "THAT'S WHAT THEY ARE PAID FOR"(to die ) !!

EVEN IF IRAQ WOULD HAVE BEEN WAR FOR OIL ONLY, VETERANS WOULDN'T NEVER EVER HAVE TO BE HOMELESS PEOPLE THE WAY THEY ARE AND NOR WOULD OUR PEOPLE HAVE TO DIE ALLOVER THE PLACE THE WAY THEY DO TO VERY TODAY(never ending “war on terror” story). BECAUSE EVEN IF WAR WAS FOR THE SAKE OF MONEY, MONEY SHOULD BE USED FOR AMERICAN CITIZENS AND NOT WHAT THE CASE IS OR AGAINST WHITES(to destroy us allover the world) !!! You don't really proof for 911, just put your sht together in your heads...THIS IS PLENTY ENOUGH TO HAVE O(B)SAMA INDICTED FOR CRIMES COMMITTED AGAINST WHITE AMERICAN HUMANITY TOGETHER WITH HIS ZIONIST MASTERS) !!!

Don't worry O(s)bama, you have just saved USA what is lots of Dollars in your DEBT DEALS as those best of America or Navy Seals would also grew older and then you already know how it goes...DEAD & ILL = DEBT DEAL !!!

HOW MUCH FURTHER ARE WE WILLING TO GO IN ORDER TO PLEASE VERY SAME PEOPLE WHO DENY US EVEN THE RIGHT TO EXISTENCE(what is to you country without laws or lawless country in respect to your personal rights, but the one that in contrast to your denied basic human rights recognizes you extremely liable when payments are due) !!?

IS IT INDEPENDENCE THAT WE CELEBRATE OR DEPENDENCE (what are your credit card bills or alimony saying about it) !!? HOW IS YOUR DIABETES AND LOST MARRIAGES !!? FORECLOSURES AND JOB SEARCH !!? THAT IS THE QUESTION TO BE OR NOT TO BE !!! IS IT LAND OF THE FREE OR STATE OF TERROR AGAINST OWN POPULATION !!? IT IS TIME TO LET THEM KNOW WHAT COLOR ARE THE STRIPES ON OUR STAR SPANGLED BANNER !!! TIME TO DETERMINE WHOSE INDEPENDENCE/AMERICA, WE CELEBRATE TODAY(who wants to erase us and denies us the right to exist) !!! IT IS IMPORTANT TO KNOW WHOM WE ADDRESS WITH "PRESIDENT" (STOP HUMILIATING YOURSELF) !!!

VOTING POLL:

DO WE NEED MORE PROOFS TO INDICT OBAMA AND BUSH ADMINISTRATION FOR CRIMES COMMITTED AGAINST WHITE HUMANITY !!?

1)NO, THEY ARE CLEARLY GUILTY AS OIL WAR NEVER EVER WAS REAL ISSUE IN GENOCIDE AGAINST WHITES. REAL ISSUE ARE FACTS OR WHAT WE WITNESS TODAY WHEN VETERANS ARE HOMELESS, JOBLESS, KILLED, ETC.

2)NO, AS 911 ALONE AS WELL AS ACTIONS IMPOSED AGAINST WHITES IN USA (as well worldwide) ARE CLEARLY INDICATING ACTS OF GENOCIDE AGAINST WHITE HUMANITY

3)YESS AS JUST YESTERDAY(for over 15 years to very yesterday), WE (news/media = vacuum world of lies) WERE TELLING YOU THAT UNEMPLOYMENT WAS AT 10% WHILE TODAY ONE IS AT 50% (HOW COME NO ONE QUESTION JOURNALISM LIKE THIS OR WHAT IS WORLD OF LIES AND DEMENTIA)!

4)I AGREE WITH FIRST TWO ANSWERS ABOVE. IT IS TIME TO PRESS CRIMINAL CHARGES AGAINST BOTH ADMINISTRATIONS DUE TO ACTS OF GENOCIDE AGAINST WHITE HUMANITY FOR THE SAKE(SAFETY) OF US AND OUR CHILDREN(DO NOT TURN THEM IN WHITE REFUGEES ON PLANET APES OR WHAT YOU ARE ABOUT TO SEE WHEN VISITING ABOVE PAGES) !!!

Jonathan Lund
Jonathan Lund

The thing is, and I've been saying this for a few years, once we get the 'freedom to marry', the important questions will be: 'So now what? We can get married, sure, but what about the 95% of us who aren't meeting anyone, don't know how to date, can't figure out where/how to meet someone, or has so little gay dating experience that most of our relationships are over in 6-24 months?'

I absolutely agree that those who have been together for years need to get married, not because of activism, but because of spousal rights in times of emergency or taking care of children, etc. However, in all the years I've been out, and I've been many places, very few gay people are at that point in life where these things are on their horizon. We are still an anonymous group of people (with the internet now we have even more people closeted and worse yet, no interest in coming out or even trying to meet other gay people in real life), and with that anonymity comes a deep mistrust of other gay people. No relationship can work this way! A lot of us DO want to get married someday. But waving the legalized marriage wand won't automatically pair us up with someone who contrasts just enough, and both people are committed to working things out rather than bolting the second things get difficult. I don't see this becoming a discussion in the gay society because when you look at gay news magazines, it's like reading a magazine targeting very affluent housewives - showcasing only the most expensive condos, cars, clothes; assuming that we are all on the way to getting married and completely ignoring the gay people who don't have any money, or who just lost their job/insurance and are scared shitless because if you're a single adult with no kids, good luck getting any help if you're struggling. Marriage has turned into a single-issue activism in the gay community, and it's left out a whole range of issues that a lot of us face every single day.

Jae
Jae

i'm not God so therefore i won't judge when it comes to homosexuals and marriage. if two guys or girls love each other enough to get married, let them get married. but i do find it in bad taste for anyone to put a veil and add flowers to the torch as in the above picture. Tacky.

Winston Blake
Winston Blake

Monogamy is a hackneyed tenet of religion.

The greatest knot upon the liberty of all European people is the praeterpolitical power of the churches to institute monogamy as an ecclesiastic rule of law, thereby enabling them to determine the legitimacy of the succession of the pagan kings and abrogate the natural rights to property and self-defense.

The government of men's external actions by religion, pretending the change of nature in their consecrations cannot be esteemed a work extraordinary, it is no other than a conjuration or incantation, whereby they would have men to believe an alteration of nature that is contrary to the testimony of sight and of all the rest of the senses...

The idea "thou shalt marry and be given in marriage" is corrupt and degenerate, which is an impossible immortality of a kind (i.e., eternal love), but not of the persons of men.

Ecclesiastics would have men believe they will receive condign punishment for their contumacy of monogamy, as opposed to the freedom of the polygamy found in nature, which is inherently pagan.

Evolution for mammals is entirely heterosexual.

Winston Blake
Winston Blake

Monogamy is a hackneyed tenet of religion.

The greatest knot upon the liberty of all European people is the praeterpolitical power of the churches to institute monogamy as an ecclesiastic rule of law, thereby enabling them to determine the legitimacy of the succession of the pagan kings and abrogate the natural rights to property and self-defense.

The government of men's external actions by religion, pretending the change of nature in their consecrations cannot be esteemed a work extraordinary, it is no other than a conjuration or incantation, whereby they would have men to believe an alteration of nature that is contrary to the testimony of sight and of all the rest of the senses...

The idea "thou shalt marry and be given in marriage" is corrupt and degenerate, which is an impossible immortality of a kind (i.e., eternal love), but not of the persons of men.

Ecclesiastics would have men believe they will receive condign punishment for their contumacy of monogamy, as opposed to the freedom of the polygamy found in nature, which is inherently pagan.

This religious faggotry is insane.

Evolution for mammals is entirely heterosexual.

born gay = birth defect

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

fiona64
fiona64

This is a splendid demonstration of why marriage equality matters to *everyone,* not just gay and lesbian couples. Bravo.

ninotchka
ninotchka

Beautiful, simply beautiful.

ajswillis
ajswillis

That's a beautiful description of why something so unimportant is so critical. Thank you.

OutMilitary
OutMilitary

Thank you for this story. FYI – http://OutMilitary.com is now featuring in-depth interviews with gay active duty servicemen and women… This week features “T.J.” a bi-sexual man serving in the U.S Air Force in Turkey.

 
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