Maybe I Do And Maybe I Don't

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

The good news is that his condition "is not degenerative, unlike Kevin, who wakes up every day not knowing what he's going to be able to see."

Howard, a Brooklyn native, graduated from college and began a successful corporate career at IBM and then Chase Bank. As a young adult, he was not fully out to himself, his family, or (so he thought) at work.

"Back then, you thought if you were out, you wouldn't get hired in the corporate world, and if you were hired, you wouldn't get promoted," he says. "If a promotion came up, they'd say they needed to give it to a straight person who really needed it."

During his first years away from home, "I didn't know what AIDS was," he says. Even when he did, "I actually thought, I'm smart, I'm educated. This couldn't happen to me." In those years, "'slut' was a good word" for how he was acting, he says.

Still, having sex with a lot of people "represented freedom" from everything; he was escaping from the straight world and hiding within himself.

Then, "in 1987, I met this guy Peter, my first real lover." The seeds of his first real commitment were planted.

A few months into their relationship, "we had the same doctor, who was gay, in the West Village, who wanted us to get tested. And I asked, 'Why?' And he said, 'You need to know your status, and maybe get treatment.' But there was no treatment then, so I don't know what it was he was talking about."

When the results were in, the doctor "called us into his office and said, 'I have good news and bad news. The good news is you both have the same result. The bad news is that you're both positive.' Peter's "T-cells were down to 200, and mine were still at 900. So he had probably been infected for a long time, and had probably given it to me."

Peter and Howard went to the doctor every three months, but otherwise "kept our heads in the sand and didn't talk about it." Howard was "terrified of anybody from work finding out."

The year 1995 "would turn out to be the worst year of my life," Howard says. As Peter's health declined, they converted the ground floor of their brownstone into a hospice.

Aware that they were not legally married, they spent a great deal of time and money "making everything iron-clad," so that when Peter was gone, Howard would get the house and the life insurance. Yet when Peter died in July at the age of 35—just a month after Howard's father died, following a shockingly brief week-long cancer diagnosis—Peter's family "came in like vultures," he says. "They wanted everything in the house."

The trouble started before Peter was even gone, Howard says. "Peter was in the apartment, basically dying. His mother would drive in . . . from Greenport And one day she said, 'Can I see his will?' And I said, 'OK'. And she's reading it saying, 'Fuck! Shit! I don't fucking believe this!' And I said, 'Is there a problem?' And she said, 'Yeah. I'm not in this!' And I said, 'Well, he's not dead yet. He's right over there! If you have any issues, you need to resolve this now. I am not going to deal with this later.' "

When he was gone, Howard said to Peter's mother, "What about all those Thanksgivings and Christmases? Didn't you understand we were just like a married couple? The only thing was that we couldn't get married.

"Apparently, [Peter's family] didn't believe it."

Because of all the legal groundwork they'd laid, Howard got to keep what Peter left him. But a grieving widower he was not—at least in the eyes of the law and family.

"At the funeral, the only thing I was allowed to do was pay for it," he says. The funeral director made it clear to him in planning the service, "they weren't going to listen to anything I had to say. They were only going to listen to the mother."

An odd benefit of the funeral for Howard: Even though "I thought I wasn't out at work, so many of my employees, and my boss, came to the service. You always think you're keeping it secret, but everyone knows."

Marriage wasn't possible back then, but Howard wonders how it would have affected things. "It's like Larry Kramer says about The Normal Heart. If we'd had marriage back then, or full equality, maybe more of us would have survived this?"

But there was little time for political activism, according to Kevin. "For me," he says of the years after his David died, when he was dealing with blindness and nausea and diarrhea and vomiting, "I just kept focusing on the crisis of the day. How am I going to survive the next eye surgery? I just had to stay alive, until something that could keep me alive came onto the market."

To hear Kevin tell it, as sick as he got, he didn't really have time to mourn either the physical abilities or the loved ones he was losing, let alone worry about civil-rights equality. "I just kept coming back to that 'Bring out yer dead!' scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail," he says quietly. "It's like, 'I'm not quite dead yet.' "

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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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