|Me and my Mom - 1941 (little did she know the challenges I would present to her later in life)|
For most of my life I have been made to feel "Less than...." By that I mean, "Not as good as everyone else, you're defective, you're ill." That was the message imprinted in my mind from my earliest memory. Some of that negativity was from my father who didn't want children. I always felt my brothers and I were a burden to him, a drag on his freewheeling ways. You see Dad was quite the ladies man and the responsibilities of housing, feeding and giving attention to three young boys, each a year apart wasn't his first priority. But I digress (every time I mention my father in a blog I go off on another tangent).
|Me and "Pop", back when I was a novelty to him - 1941|
I always envied kids who would ride on their father's shoulders - I never thought I did but this picture proves me wrong, it's just that I was too young to remember it
No, what this posting is about is that from my earliest memory I knew I was "different." What exactly, I didn't know at that time but I do know that the year before I started first grade (when I was four years old), I knew I got a special thrill when one of my uncles would wink at me or be kind to me or pay attention to me. Maybe it was because my father never did. I never have quite figured that one out but I know that at that age it had nothing to do with sex. I didn't even know about sex (at four years old?) And just to get the record clear, I was never sexually abused or even close to anything sexual when I was a young child. The "sex part" didn't happen until I was 20 years old. Yes folks, I was a Late Bloomer.
|Me at 20 years old - dumb as s__t - 1962|
But I do know that special feeling I got when a man was friendly to me. I didn't feel "less than." Of course I had my favorite aunts but I didn't have that same "feeling with them."
I feel I'm getting off the subject of "less than" again. This is what happens sometimes when I start one of my blog postings, I go off in another tangent.
The reason I bring up the subject of "Less than..." was the feeling I had when I was in Wilmington earlier this week during Governor Markell's announcement to propose legislation to make marriage equality a reality in the state of Delaware. Standing in Freedom Square during that windy day (almost got blown over more than few times holding that giant rainbow flag), I definitely didn't feel "less than." To have the governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general of the state of Delaware take the time to announce they support legislation to have gay citizens of the state of Delaware have the ability to get married and thus have the same dignity and protections accorded to other Americans made me realize that I am no longer "less than."
|Me in Wilmington Thursday holding the rainbow flag and trying not to get blown over - if my Mother could see me now I wonder what she would think|
My Mother died in September 2010. She knew I was gay, I came out to her in 1964. She didn't take this news well at first (hardly, she wanted to send me to a mental hospital to "cure"me) but in time she eventually came to terms with the reality of who I was. I don't think she ever quite accepted that reality but I was her #1 Son (the way she always referred to me and the way I always signed my cards and letters to her) that was that. However, whenever I bought up or told her something about my "gay life", she would go silent. Her eyes would get that sad look like she did something wrong in raising me. It is a shame but I think to this day that even my own Mother probably thought of me as "less than."
|Me with my Mom at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital, Philadelphia, PA - 2001|
The past week I've posted a blog about my attendance at the Wilmington announcement and pictures on my Facebook page of me holding the rainbow flag. I find it very interesting the "loudness" of the silence that I have received from many of my relatives and friends, most of whom are of the conservative persuasion. As I've said many times before in this blog, most of my friends and relatives have conservative political views, including my two dear younger brothers who love me to death (I think). I understand where they are coming from. They have their sincere beliefs, especially when it comes to their Bibles. I respect them and their beliefs but I would hope that some day they would realize that I am not "less than" because that is exactly the message they are sending to me by their silence.
|Tipton brothers Isaac, Ron and John|