So much I can say would be true, but not get to the heart of it. Yes, he is smart, he has a record of competent leadership, he shares my values. But the same can be said of other candidates. Why him? So much of it boils down to the fact that he is wholesome. He is not a creature of political Washington who has been positioning himself to run for the past 10 or 20 years. As he has said, he looked at the office, and the needs of the moment, compared that to what he can bring and found a match. I see the same match.
I could pretend that his being a gay man has no role in my support of him. To the extent that is true. If I didn’t think he would be capable of rising to the occasion, I wouldn’t consider him. But given that I do believe in his ability, I can turn my head to what it would mean in my life to have an out, gay, married President. I’m 42 years old. I was raised in conservative rural East Texas, where I still live today with my husband. I remember growing up as an awkward little gay boy. I remember the exact moment I realized I was gay and put that label on myself. I was 9 years old. I was so scared. I felt alone. I thought being gay was a horrible secret that I had to keep hidden, and believes with every fiber in my being that I would be cursed to die sad and alone. I remember lying in bed crying myself to sleep, begging God to change me and not let me be gay. I just wanted to be normal. Over the years I grew to accept it and moved on, but those scars from childhood remained unhealed for decades.
I know today that things have changed. But in the back of my mind I imagine another 9 year old boy realizing that he is gay. I imagine him watching the news with his parents and hearing stories about this gay candidate rising in the polls. I imagine him on election night seeing this man making a victory speech and watching as the newly elected President proudly gives his husband a celebratory kiss. I imagine him watching the inauguration, where the new President is sworn in with his hand on a bible held by his loving husband. In that moment, this young boy looks at the television and thinks, “I’m like him. I’m not alone.” This boy will know that he can do anything he wants in life. He can grow up, go to college, fall in love, and get married. And if he wants, he can run for President.
I also think a lot about the parents of a young gay teenager who has just come out to them. So many parents in this situation face a lot of conflict and pain. Of course they love their child unconditionally. But will he be happy? Will he find love? Will he be cast out by society? Pete’s story, and his success, is a comfort to these parents as much as it is to their child. Of course your child can find love and be accepted by the world.
This is the world I want to make in my future.
I am a 42 year old gay man, living with my husband and our 3 dogs in the Piney Woods of East Texas. Not much else interesting or of note about me. I’m kind of boring these days and that is the way I like it.
You can follow Patrick on Twitter at @astrangerland