D Gregory Smith

For Ted and Jack, Marriage Equality Came Too Late

Filed By D Gregory Smith | July 25, 2011 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Gay Icons and History, Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: LGBT rights, love, marriage equality, New York, octagenarian activists, Pioneers, Ted Hayes

TedandJack.jpgYou may remember my friend Ted Hayes. He's been a frequent commenter and guest of the site, writing columns about fundamentalism and sexuality and the pro-choice-life rhetoric.

New York's Hudson Valley's Times Herald-Record profiled Ted yesterday - on the day that marriage equality becomes a reality in that state - and it's beautiful.

For many people outside the LGBT world, gay pride and marriage equality is too often seen simply as the cause of "radical" youth - the pierced, cross-dressing, politically and theologically liberal boys/girls/trans/men/women with their Harleys and glitter and rollerskates.

It is that - and I happen to love it and believe in the power and importance of self-expression.

But it's also more.

Gay Pride and marriage equality are also about the people of advancing age who have struggled to live their lives with love and integrity in the face of hatred, anger, denial and oppression - the kind that many of us today simply cannot fathom.

Enter Ted:

This is a short story about a man's long life as he stands on the brink of a day he never thought would arrive.

At the age of eight, Ted Hayes heard a kid in the schoolyard call another kid a queer.
Hayes asked a friend what the word meant.

"It means when boys like boys, not girls. My dad says anyone like that should be killed."
The friend said he was sure glad he wasn't like that. Hayes agreed.

"That was the day the lying began - years and years of lying," Hayes, of Stone Ridge, recalled last week.

The state's gay marriage law takes effect Sunday. Hayes, now 80, grew up in the South and has mixed feelings about it. He's fought for gay marriage and he's glad it's finally come to pass. Yet, the law ends at the New York state border. It represents a battle won, in a war that's still being fought.

The law's passage came too late for Hayes to share its satisfactions with his partner of 26 years, Jack Waite, who died of cancer two years ago at the age of 94.

"Jack could never grasp how our being married would have harmed another's marriage in the slightest," Hayes said, dismay coloring his voice.

The harm that's been done, as Hayes has experienced it, has not been done by those who have struggled for marriage equality but by those who would deny them, people who have tried all Hayes's long life to keep him a fearful, uncomplaining second-class citizen.

Thanks, Ted. We owe you one.

Read the full, beautiful story here.

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Thanks for posting this.

Ted Hayes Ted Hayes | July 26, 2011 7:44 AM

Greg, you dear man, thank you for sharing this and for your words that preceded the initial story. I am very grateful.

You might be interested to know that when I expressed my gratitude to Jeremiah Horrigan, the Times Herald-Record staff writer responsible for the story, he responded with the following:

"Ted: I'm very happy you were pleased with the story. As was true back when I first met you & Jack, it was a pleasure talking to you. And writing your story is about as close to an honor as a reporter ever gets to experience. I'm grateful for the opportunity. Cheers = Jeremiah."

Is that a "wow!" or what? And then you give me another "wow." Thanks again.

Jay Kallio | July 26, 2011 5:20 AM

Marriage Equality also came way too late for my partner of 35 years. She died almost three years ago. She was a fierce activist and would have loved to be among the many couples who are getting married now. I'm so sorry she did not live to enjoy this day.

Had she been able to marry me and be included on my health insurance, I am certain she would be alive today, and getting married as she always wished we could do.

I am certain she is very happy for all who are now enjoying this equality and privilege of marriage, and smiling down on all.