I just arrived home from the doctor’s office.
On our way there, a shirt in a store window caught my attention. We decided to buy it but they were all too big for me.
A clerk came out of the store to help us. He barely spoke any English. It is my guess he was from the Caribbean, like me. Denis started asking some questions related to the shirt's sizes but he looked at me lost, so I decided to translate for him.
The store is located in a neighborhood mostly populated by Latinos. After living in Puerto Rico for 28 years, I learned that some Caribbean people can be a bit prejudiced against gay related issues.
This gentleman was very friendly. After he found the right shirt size for me he asked, “Is this your father”? He was referring to my husband Denis. I thought about it for a second, and without hesitation I answered, “No, he is my husband, we are married”. He looked at both of us and gave us a beautiful sincere smile. I felt very proud of the fact that the mere mention of a same sex marriage didn’t shock him at all. It was indeed a very uplifting moment that taught me a lesson.
The new generations are becoming more at ease with the use of the term “husband” and “wife” in the context of a same sex marriage. Why am I sharing this story with you? Because I believe the LGBT community has in our hands a very important lesson to share with our heterosexual brothers and sisters
I believe this is important, and I realized this the day of our wedding two years ago. The lady that officiated our wedding in the city clerks office in The Bronx, N.Y.C., said “ I pronounce you now, husband and husband, you may kiss your husband now”. That moment was one of the most emotional moments in my life. I have a husband!, I said to myself. The feeling was incredibly beautiful. I felt free, respected, recognized and validated. After 15 years in a relationship with Denis J Beale, I became a married man.
From then on I rejected the term “partner”. I was not a partner anymore, I was a husband. A proud gay male that for the first time in my life was given the lawful right to call my long-time companion a husband.
Denis and I talked about this incident over lunch. We both agreed that the LGBT community has a social responsibility - the responsibility to educate those who are still in the darkness about same sex marriage. The more we use the words husband and wife within the context of our marriages, the more people will learn about this reality, and fortunately we will see in the near future a society that will embrace our right to use these terms.
Let’s educate. Education is the cure for ignorance, and the use of the terms “husband and “wife” will give us our lawful right and place in North American contemporary society
About the author: “My name is Felix Garmendia. I was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico in 1961. Moved to New York City in 1988 and tested positive for HIV in 1989. I live with my husband Denis Beale in Manhattan. I taught art in the N.Y.C public school system for fifteen years until a disability forced me to retire in 2005”
You can follow Felix on Facebook here.