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  • I came out to myself and accepted my own being gay in my mid-30s. I was fortunate to quickly find a super nice guy (Rich) to date. Our relationship quickly grew and deepened. We have now been together for 23 years!

    When I came out to my parents, I was hoping they would quickly accept Rich much in the same way they quickly embraced my two sisters’ husbands and welcomed them into the family, especially since Rich was such a great guy. I was unpleasantly surprised when my father said, “You are my son, I love and accept you, but my mother and I will never come over to your home to visit when Rich is there, and Rich is never welcome in our home.”

    When I relayed this to Rich, he took it quite well and decided that it was just best to lay low and not make a fuss.

    Months later, my father fell off a ladder cleaning his roof and broke his ankle. As he was unable to do anything physical, Rich volunteered to go over to my parent’s house every week and mow their lawn and do other yard projects. Instead of being all in a huff about my father’s initial rejection of our relationship, Rich decided to instead meet him in a kind way and provide help when he needed it.

    That won my father over! By the time he had healed and was able to do his own yard work, my father was fully accepting of Rich. In fact, he moved from a place of “he is not welcome in our home” to actually inviting him over for dinner when I was out of town on business!

    I remember always being an activist, even as early as elementary school when I stuck up for the unpopular kids on the playground. But I have a fiery, confrontational nature which often “breaks glass” along the way. Rich modeled a different approach that seeks out opportunities to build bridges and treat all people with respect --meeting them where they are. That is why I appreciate the chance to get involved with Marriage Equality USA's “Heart of What Matters” initiative. It is a respectful way of starting a dialogue and fostering understanding between people with different views on marriage for same-gender couples.

    Stan Kimer
    Raleigh, NC
    November 2014
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