Let Nobody Put Asunder

John R Selig

John Selig is an activist for equality and justice. He and his husband — Rodolfo — life in Dallas. John produces a widely-followed and acclaimed podcast called Outspoken. You can hookup with John on Facebook or at his personal website, John Selig Outspoken.

Warning, John is on a tear! (but I have good reason to be). I am sending this to you because you really do matter to me.

Today has been an extremely difficult day, perhaps the worst I have suffered in many years. I was part of a lay-off from my job back in November and this is far worse than that.

This morning I received terrible news from Nathaniel (my son for those of you who don’t know him) who lives in Nova Scotia. The Globe and Mail, a major newspaper in Canada, was reporting that gay couples such as Rodolfo and myself who lived in a state or country that didn’t support same-sex marriage were no longer going to be considered legally married in Canada which essentially dissolved Rodolfo’s and my marriage. We will be celebrating our eighth anniversary on April 17th. [1]

To say that I was devastated is a huge understatement. I spent the day getting out paperwork focusing on my job search while I worked hard to hold back tears.

Late this afternoon, I received a much more reassuring email Major LGBT and other Organizations (including Freedom to Marry, NCLR – The National Center for Lesbian Rights, GLAD – Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, Lambda Legal and The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union). [2]

Dan Savage wrote a superb column for The Stranger, a newspaper in Seattle where he serves as editor, writes his nationally acclaimed sex-advise column and records his excellent podcast. Dan’s column was picked up by the Huffington Post and it outlines his accumulation of information on this news story throughout today. Dan is an excellent writer, speaker ad podcaster and a personal hero of mine. His language is salty for those of you reading this who might be offended, be forewarned. By the way Dan and his husband Terry started the It Get’s Better Project aimed at keeping LGBT youth from killing themselves. Thousands of people have recorded messages including many celebrities, sports heroes and even President Obama have recorded messages. [3]

 Here are my takeaways from this horrible day:

  1. I am tired of being treated like a third-class person. Rodolfo and I deserve the same rights as all other Americans.
  2. I am tired and disgusted by the hate that continues against us. I am particularly disgusted by the hateful comments from the Republican contenders for their presidential candidacy. I am disgusted that mainstream Republicans and more liberally minded religious leaders aren’t calling them on their hate speech in the media. My father and his family fled Nazi German in 1935 as Jews as others stood by and did nothing.
  3. I am tired and disgusted by the fact that Rodolfo and I, who have been together for 10 years as of last month are denied over 1,140 federal rights that legally married heterosexual couples have. Marriage needs to be recognized on the federal level and the Defense of Marriage Act needs to be overturned. It is not a state issue. No religion will or should be forced to accept same-sex marriage but marriage is a state recognition as far as rights are concerned. Religions should have no say in anything other than whether they will accept the marriages in their faith.
  4. I am tired of having to devote so much of my life to having to be an activist to obtain the same rights as other Americans take for granted. I would much rather enjoy my time with Rodolfo, read, take photographs, do my podcast, watch TV, socialize with friends, etc. I have been a gay activist for since coming out 22 years ago. It is exhausting and I have had enough.
  5. This afternoon my son, Nathaniel, told me that I have fought hard for over two decades and that I should let others take my place, that I have done more than my fair share. I told him that I know many people whom have been in this fight for over 50 years whom have done far more than I have.
  6. Unfortunately, I cannot sit back and I cannot stop. If I do that I will be powerless and this effort requires ever hand on deck – every LGBT person, every supporting friend, every family member, every co-worker, every caring person and every voter that supports us. We cannot win this battle alone.
  7. I was devastated today by this horrifying news that blind-sided me and once again made me realize just how vulnerable Rodolfo and I are, how easily any gained ground won can be instantly eroded.
  8. I realized just how easy it is for us to lose rights that we have won and how little those in power really care about us.
  9. Think of how each of you would have felt if you found out that your marriage to your spouse whom you legally married in the U.S. or elsewhere was immediately dissolved and meaningless. At the moment Rodolfo and my marriage isn’t recognized in Texas but we are legally married in Canada and in any country or state in the U.S. that recognizes same-sex marriage. How would you be feeling right now if this happened to you?
  10. I am thankful for my wonderful husband, Rodolfo Arredondo who is the love of my life. I am thankful for my son Nathaniel (the raising of Nathaniel is the greatest achievement in my life; nothing else comes even close). I am thankful for my daughter-in-law Doris who make Nathaniel so very happy and is a world-class mom. We are thankful for our grandson, Cameron, whom I wish we could see far more often. I am thankful for my amazing friends and the many people whom I know that make my life so much richer.
  11. I know people get tired of hearing me in person or reading my emails and articles or hearing my podcast comments about LGBT rights. I get tired of talking and writing about them. I get tired of hearing me. But then I read about the latest teen suicide or another gay kid bullied or kicked out onto the street.
    1. There was another teen suicide reported in today’s Huffington Post by a 19-year old teen filmmaker who filmed a video for the It Gets Better Project just a month ago. Eric James Borges was physically, mentally, emotionally and verbally assaulted on a day-to-day basis throughout his adolescence and young-adulthood. He claimed that his mother performed an exorcism on him in an effort to “cure” her son of his homosexuality before eventually kicking him out.
    2. I hear of kids being beaten up in school and nobody does anything to help them (I have appeared in press conferences with some of these kids and watched them tell their stories with tears streaming down their faces). It isn’t just another research statistic; these are real lives being destroyed. Far too many educators and far too many parents just don’t care and just don’t do something about it until it is too late if at all.
    3. vI hear that 20%- 40% of homeless youth are LGBT kids who have been kicked out of their homes just because they are gay and nobody seems to care. It is estimated that there are between 1.6 million and 2.8 million homeless young people in the United States. Remember, between 20% to 40% of these homeless kids are gay. Estimates of the percent of gay people in the country range between 2% – 10% with 10% probably too high. The largest homeless shelter in the country is the Ali Fornay Center run by Carl Siciliano who is another personal hero of min and was a guest on my John Selig Outspoken podcast. The Ali Fornay Center has beds for 120 LGBT kids and that is the largest such center in the country. Many homeless shelters won’t take in LGBT youth or make it so uncomfortable that the kids won’t stay at many centers because religious fundamentalists run them and they make demands of people staying at their centers that are anti-gay. Carl sites a recent study that kids with deeply religious parents are 400% more likely to be thrown out onto the streets than other kids.
    4. I hear that objecting to hate speech from pulpits throughout the country is interfering with religious freedom when such comments about African Americans, Latinos, Asians, Jews, women, Roman Catholics and others from the same pulpits would not be tolerated. Of course comments against Muslims still seem to be okay (but that is another rant for another time … one that I also feel strongly about). I don’t deserve equal rights if I am not willing to stand up for those of others dealing with hate.
    5. And today I hear that my marriage to Rodolfo, the person who is my life partner, who is always there for me in the good times and the bad, who makes sacrifices for me everyday, who puts up with my sick sense of humor, who watches me make an ass of myself far too often but who still loves me anyway that our marriage no longer exists and that we don’t matter.

I am tired and perhaps I shouldn’t bother with this. The Office is on NBC right now and Project Runway All Stars will be on Lifetime in less than an hour. I am in the middle of a Robin Cooks latest medical thriller and I have another podcast episode waiting to be edited. But I cannot ignore what happened today and each of you is important enough for me to share this with you. If Rodolfo and I and many millions like us stand any chance of living a life with the same rights as other Americans we will not be able to achieve this alone we will need the help of friends and family.

Thanks for being there and thanks for putting up with me. Obviously, I am still hurting. Feel free to share this with others. Rodolfo and I can’t do it alone.