Rob came from a very conservative, very LDS, small town in the rurals of Utah. The boat we were on last week carries a larger population. So when he said he wanted to go to his class reunion this year, I half thought he was joking.
Ten years ago we didn’t attend because he wasn’t invited. The organizer called Rob to get the contact information of some of his classmates, but he never sent him an invitation. Once Rob asked for the information they had had the reunion over, and the organizer actually told him that he didn’t know how to reach us… Yes, after contacting Rob months before for the numbers of others.
Now, Rob was a popular kid. Heck, he was prom king, a fact I never tire of advertising. But none of his LDS friends (the great majority of his friends) took his being gay well, though a couple have come around today. In fact, my friends became Rob’s after we got together and we only saw his periodically; many just ended their relationship at the news.
Anyway, Rob wasn’t joking; he wanted to go to his reunion this year. He had begun reconnecting with some of them, via email, and he wanted to see them. And we were invited this time; the new committee was headed by a friend and not the same bigot who couldn’t even own up to his own “values” ten years ago.
I was nervous, but I wanted to go with him too. I wanted to have the experience, to hear about the Rob I never knew, to just stand there next to him for it. So, as I’d been joking for months before, we checked our life insurance policy for coverage of lynching and headed off for his reunion a couple days ago.
When we left, I had a bad cold. 1 week on a ship + 700 children = 1 bad cold for me, and every year. I wasn’t sick enough to be in bed though. Then, the day we got there we went 4-wheeling with Rob’s parents and had a great time, but I ended up with a couple red splotches on me from mosquitoes and horse flies. So I was basically going to walk into his reunion noticeably sick, and with red spots… I kept thinking they’d be sure I was suffering the consequences of our lewd and lawless lifestyle ;-). Add to that that I still had my sea legs from the ship, meaning I was losing my balance at random, and they’d probably think I came drunk as well.
It wasn’t looking good for me and then it got worse. Alan suddenly developed the fever Brian caught on the ship, of course. Long-story-short, I spent the day of Rob’s reunion in a hotel room, watching Animal Planet with Alan, trying to break his fever, while Rob and Brian went to the events. At least Rob’s classmates didn’t have to see Rob’s diseased and stone drunk “friend” :-).
I was kind of let down, but, as things stood, I was much more worried about the Tylenol/Motrin schedule. You hate it when your kid is sick, particularly when you’re handicapped too, but Alan and I had an okay lazy day together.
For Rob, it seems it was a mixed bag. There was a whole day of events tied in with Pioneer Day celebrations. Rob and Brian had a fun time riding in the parade, but he noticed some nudging, pointing, dirty looks. Some folks came up, talked to him, and asked about Alan and me. Some of them were people he never thought would do so. Sill, others gave a very pointedly cold shoulder. One woman involved in PFLAG there came up and told Rob that we are talked about often and fondly by many in that town and the surrounding towns. She was saying our family is discussed often by gay kids and their parents in the area, and she made Rob feel quite appreciated for coming. On the other hand, Rob found that someone had removed his picture from the high school plaque commemorating his class. Mixed bag.
All in all though, I'd say a mixed bag, with nothing worse than anonymous vandalism and cold shoulders, is quite a remarkable indication of positive change.
At the actual reunion dinner, it was pretty much the same thing. Rob was mainly in the company of his female friends, who could hang around him without catching the gay ;-). Though, he was pretty sure more of his male friends would have wanted to catch up, if not for the appearances, which are very and practically important in such a town, I gather. Some talked to him; some didn’t.
In all, he had a good time and will go to the next one (and I hope Alan and I will too). He didn’t care much about the negative. That’s one reason I love him, but let me give an example of why I married him. The first thing he told me about when he got back was not all the concerns I had, not about who was nice to him and who wouldn’t look at him. It was not all the reunion crap about who does what and who looks like what. The first thing he told me about his reunion was how happy he was to finally tell a girl, who he and his group of fiends had treated badly in high school, that he was very sorry, face to face. That was the highlight of his reunion.
I’m a lucky man.