I know i haven’t posted in a while, I have been working on a project (details to come) and haven’t had a ton of time to post. I can’t let this incredible failure on the part of state government pass without saying something. I was very sad to hear that the state anti-discrimination bill will not be heard this year. What saddens me even more is to hear the reasons why. People are stating that it infringes on their religious values, and personal opinions on the mater. I’m sorry but when did we start passing legislation based on religious values. I’m sorry that your values include discrimination and hate. I’m sorry that i want the right to not be fired based purely on my sexual preference. Sometimes I wish i could put these small minded “representatives” in my shoes for a day. Let them see through my eyes, let them here their own hateful words through my ears. I promise you things would change so quickly. I look to countries like Ecuador where a man was stripped on his political rights for gay slurs during a campaign rally. They know that saying these mean hateful things are wrong, so why don’t our “representatives” understand that when referring to homosexuality as a perversion and unnatural they are speaking about (literally) tens of thousands of people in this state and that it’s wrong. How can you justify keeping such a large part of your populations without protection just because you think they are wrong on a religious level. I am ashamed of you UT state Legislature.
I came home from work today to find my dog Josh chewing on a piece of paper on the bed. I tried taking it from him so I could see what it was, and after a drool drenched tug-of-war I finally wrestled it out of his jaws (just an FYI Josh is a ten pound Dachshund not a three hundred pound monster) I opened the once neatly folded paper to find a letter from the man I love. This surprised me because as much as I love writing trent hates it, so him writing anything to me proves he loves me.
It starts out “My partner, my best friend.” This letter means so much to me I will keep the majority of it to myself, but the closing line “Please know that you, and only you, are what I think of when I think of happiness, think of forever, think of love.” I sit here and wonder where was I before I met Trent? He is my light, my life, and my joy.
I think back a few years to our first Valentines day together. We were very poor, yet happy. I had been thinking long and deep about how to take things to the next level. Had we been a straight couple I would have asked him to marry me, but obviously that was not an option. So I had to get creative, think outside of the box. I sat down at my computer and compiled this contract.
This is a contract made of promises and statements which must be agreed to by both parties. This document holds it’s authority not by law but by heart. This contract is just a symbol of things much deeper, feelings and devotion that can not be expressed though words. It has been drafted because of the nature of the world, unable to understand or accept a different form of love.
- I promise to be honest at all times
- I promise to be true and devoted in all situations
- I promise to tell you “I love you”everyday
- I will respect and honor you
- I will keep open communication
- I will help you achieve your goals
- We will work together to make a positive impact on this world.
- I will be your strength when you need me to be.
- I will take care of you always
- I will love you forever
By signing this document I commit to you my whole heart, mind and soul.
We both signed, and have lived true to this contract ever since. I hope someday the law can recognize our union, but honestly even without that we are bound together by something far greater then law.
I think it is time to tell my story, why and how my life could have ended up this way. There are so many questions that need answers for so many people in my life, and I hope to answer a lot of them here and now.
I am the second oldest in a family of four kids. My dad and mom are celebrating their 30 anniversary very soon. We were raised in the church (the LDS church) the values and teachings of the church were taught in the home. I achieved my eagle scout, played football, dated a girl. From the outside looking in my life was very normal, because it was. It’s not that I didn’t know I was gay, I did, it just didn’t matter. I was to serve a two year mission for the church and that is where my focus was. I thought maybe I would be cured if I could just work hard enough. I was called to the Louisiana Baton Rouge mission. I left my family and faithfully took on this task. I was placed in Mandeville Louisiana (just across the bridge from New Orleans) When a rather famous storm hit, Katrina. After the storm we went out each day and served, cutting trees off houses, checking on our friends from before the storm, and returning every night to a house with no water or electricity. We didn’t have much to eat, and the funny thing is, I didn’t care. I was so happy. After a time, and one more hurricane, my mission became very normal. I worked hard with a silent prayer in my heart that when this was all over I would no longer have this burden. I became a trainer three times, a district leader and shortly after that a zone leader. I was doing everything right. It came time to return home, I was sitting in the office, my family around me, as I was released as a missionary. I felt the weight of the world settle on my shoulders and I wept with despair. I wanted to do what I was supposed to do, get married, have children, but I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t hurt my “wife” and future children that way, I couldn’t make promises I knew I couldn’t keep. This was the first thing asked of me that I couldn’t do. Time went on and the questions in my heart mounted. Depression set in, as I realized God wasn’t going to “fix” me. I wanted to know what I had done to deserve this, did God make a mistake on me, did I do something wrong? I was being told I was wrong, not for any action I was taking or decision I was making, but for the very person I was. How do you fix that. Life became really dark for me, I was so alone. I couldn’t let anyone close to me because they might find out the truth. Thoughts of suicide went through my head often. One night I went to institute with my friends, I sat alone. In the lesson we opened our scriptures and I saw these words “Be still and know that I am God.” I was overcome with such joy and peace, I knew in that moment that I was not a mistake and I was as God made me and it was okay. From that point on the world began to have color again. It took time, but eventually I was able to accept and love myself for who I was. My family had a hard time at first but they came around. I was able to meet my soul mate Trent. My life has changed so drastically for the better, it hasn’t always been easy, but then again I never expected that. I know I am on the right track now.
So now you know a little more of my history, so you can understand how days like today can be tough. We found out this morning that the lawyers of the LDS church have drafted a letter to be sent to the Supreme Court explaining that when California adopted prop 8 “it violated no one’s civil rights.” and how marriage should be defined as between a man and a women. This institute which I spent years of my life promoting has turned it’s back on me and most abhorrently it has turned its distain toward my family. I was so upset by this at work today but I couldn’t talk about it, because if I were to offend anyone there is nothing to protect my job because I am gay. You can see how frustrating this can be. How one in my shoes might feel like second class citizen. I knew it was coming but I had no idea the kind of emotion I would feel when it did. I will work day and night to make sure my family is awarded it’s rights and it’s protected under the law.
You open your eyes, as you look around you begin to realize you are in a hospital. The feeling of fear begins to set in. After a few breathes you begin to realize it is becoming harder to breath, you don’t know why but your lungs ache and feel like they are filling with fluid. Your breathing becomes labored… Breathe… Breath (pain) … Breath… Every breath you take is bringing in less and less oxygen. Breath… breath… blackness sets in… breath… breath… and you slowly give up the fight.
This was the reality of so many of our gay brothers and sisters in the 60’s and 70’s. Doctors believed being gay was a mental disorder. They used many methods to “cure” homosexuality. One of these methods was a drug used to creat fluid in the lungs to simulate the feeling of drowning (a chemical waterboarding) other therapies include electroshock, castration, genital mutilation, and worse of all lobotomy. The thought was that if you couldn’t cure the gay then it was better to disable it, so it wouldn’t spead. I can’t begin to understand how a parent or a “loved one” could choose to put their gay sons, daughters, brothers, sisters and friends through this kind of torture. Being gay was literally against the law in 49 of the 50 states. Acts of violence towards gays were common place, with no consequences. If you were “found out” your whole life was over, you couldn’t find a job or a place to live. Fear, hate, and discrimination were taught in the home, in the school, and promoted by society in general. The body count of this movement (if added together) rivals the Veitnam war. Luckily for me and my little family the world has progressed, the problem is the laws have not. There have been no laws passed in Salt Lake City to protect the gay community. This city could revert back to the way things used to be. We can’t allow this to happen. There was a proposed bill in the last session of the state legislature (the anti discrimination bill) to protect and uphold the gay community. It was voted down! There is now a similar county wide effort being proposed, we need to make sure this one passes. This is a chapter in human history that should never be repeated, and it is up to us, our generation, to make sure it doesn’t. So please go out there and make the difference.
Dear Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.;
I write you today to tell you of your dream. Your dream, your vision is close at hand. Today was the inauguration of the second term of an African American President. Today we have overcome so many of the obsticles facing the people of your day. Without you to rally together the masses of the downtrodden, our world would be so much different. As we steam forward we do it with one eye on our past. We will never forget the blood, sweat, and tears spilled for our rights. We can never forget the vision of President Abrahm Lincoln and his issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation. His desire for every American to enjoy the same freedoms equally. As you said “There are those who ask the devotees of civil rights “when will you be satisfied?” I share my answer with you but with a different pair of eyes “We will never be satified” You see Dr. King, you and I share this dream, this desire for pure equality, I say, we will not be satisfied until every man, women and child is protected under the law no matter their sexual preferance, color or nationality. We will not be satisfied until every american can enjoy the 15,000 rights that are enacted when a couple is married. We will not be satisfied until the darkness of discrimintaion is illuminated by the light of acceptance and understanding. Dr. King I have a dream that a child with two dads or two moms will be united under the banner of the word family. I have a dream where people are not pulled from their cars or houses and beaten or murdered because others fear their differences. I have a dream that these words said by the President that was inaugurated on this very day will be accomplished. “our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law, for if we are truely created equal then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.” President Obama. As we will never forget those who gave their lives, pride and blood to gain civil rights may also we never forget those who have died, been beaten or took their own lives in the fight to gain equal rights. Dr. King may we move forward together, may we push through these last barriers of discrimintation. It is as you said “when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, (Gay and straight) will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
Thank you Dr. King for your Dream, for your vision and for your life.
Matthew Haws and Trent Lake
Perfection… One short, well know, and unattainable word. We, as humans, desire to achieve this in every aspect of our lives, and unavoidably fall short. The truth of the matter is “Perfection” at least the way we think about it is unattainable. So if we can’t be perfect we hope to project perfection. Put on a facade of unblemished, serene perfection. As gay people we do not fit within the brackets of acceptable or normal perfection. We basically carry a sign over our head that says “We Are Not Perfect” and for the most part we don’t care. If you are not being honest and true with yourself then who are you being honest and true too? When we are finally able to face this truth about ourselves the obligatory facade crumbles and you are left standing naked for the world to see. Your flaws (as some would see them) are left uncovered and stinging in the the open air. Though painful and scary this experience is also empowering. The feeling of throwing off the burden of fitting in and being who you are is indescribable. This is an experience every gay person has been through. There is an unspoken bond between us, this bond is understanding. We try to help and support one another. This unspoken bond is what makes us a community. However this pain and fear of the braking the “Perfect” projection is not limited to the gay community. It is part of the human experience. If you have eyes to read this or ears to hear it then you too have felt this pain and fear. Fear of not fitting in, the pain of rejection. I may not know or be able to understand your particular battle, but are we not obligated to help one another, to respect one another, and to “love one another?” I have learned to accept others for who they are. How can I judge someone when I am dragging my own (very stylish) baggage? How can you judge me (with my very public baggage) when you yourself are struggling to hide yours. Rather then judging others imperfections, lets stand join arms are move forward supporting one another, and maybe if we work together, we can pull all this freaking baggage across the finish line.
It was June of this past year, Trent and I were with some friends on our way to the annual pride parade in downtown SLC. I had heard rumors of a group that was planning to lead the parade that year. This was a group of members of the LDS church (Mormons Building Bridges) a church that most of us were raised in. This had not been the best year in LGBT and LDS relations, and the thought of such a group leading the parade made me feel a bit anxious. I wasn’t sure how the onlookers would react to the new group. I knew I would treat them with respect and graciously accept what they were “trying” to do. We got to the corner of main and 3rd East. I looked up and down the street in awe. There were thousands of brightly dressed people. People on the sidewalk, people looking from windows, and people on the tops of buildings… It was a beautiful sight. The feeling in the air was electric. These were all people like me, people who had been through the ringer like I had. It was time for the parade to start, the police motorcycles were clearing the route. A nervous feeling took root in my stomach as I saw the group a few blocks away. I watched carefully as they made there way up the street. As they got closer I began to read their signs and see the tears on their faces. There was an elderly lady being pushed in a wheel chair holding a sign that read “God made you this way, and I love you” she had tears running down her face. As they passed a huge cheer rose up from the crowed (a roar that would rival any BYU-UT game) the tears fell from my eyes as I began to clap and cheer as well. In that moment there was no judgement, no separation, no us and them. We were united. The difference in belief, political history, and inability to understand one another were forgotten. I felt like this moment was great, history being made. This deserved to be next to Martin Luthers “I Have Dream” speech, or Ronald Ragan “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall” in the history books. I knew this feeling, this moment was going to bring about true and irrevocable equality. The ability of people at opposite ends of the spectrum to see that we are, maybe, not so different after all.
The parade past and time went on. The pollution of the media and other influences seeped in, and yet that fire that was ignited that day still burns within me, as it burns within everyone that was lucky enough to witness it.
I hear this question almost on a weekly basis “when did you know you were gay?” This is a good question… The answer is simple, I have always known I was gay.
I have always been a little different (when my family reads this I think they will laugh at me understating this fact). My aunt would always asked me “What is the color of the sky in your world?” I had an active imagination and loved playing on my own. I never really fit in with the neighborhood kids. I was teased in elementary school. My sixth grade year I was home schooled… My seventh grade year I had grown into my oversized ears and wasn’t so awkward. People stopped making me the butt of the jokes. I played every sport I could, and yet still just didn’t fit in. My difference was fundamental. It was in my very being. I am not afraid to be who I am now, but it wasn’t always so easy. I was terrified of what others would do if they found out my secret. When people “friends” would get to close I would shut them out. No one could know…. This paralyzing fear lasted until I was twenty-two and living on my own.
Trent grew up in a small town in Utah. His secret was maybe not so secret. His nickname growing up was “Tinkerbell” yep you read it correctly. Yet his fear paralyzed him as well. Trent is a very free person, he loves the moment, he loves who he is and hides from no one. So him having to disguise such a large part of himself was very destructive. He fell into a huge depression. Trying to conform to what he was “supposed” to be. As he came out to the world his happiness grew. Now he is the happiest person I have ever known. He will ,sometimes, just randomly start to cry because he can’t contain his happy emotions any longer.
I know there are families out there with sons or daughters that they think might be gay. I have a few words of advise to them;
First is, they either are or they are not. Nothing you are going to do is going to change that.
Second, Let them be themselves. I know parents want only happieness for their children. How can one be happy if they are not allowed to be who they are? How is it healthy to tell them that they are wrong because of who they are and not for something they have done. That damage is longlasting and devistatingly hard to overcome.
Third, accept them for who they are. As a parent you are tasked with a few fundimental responsibilities. One of which is to love and nurture your children. Love them without condition. Teach them values, hard work, and to never be ashamed of who they are.
Fourth, do not fear or grieve. Don’t feel that they have lost out on a good life. I promise you this is not the case. We are steaming ahead into an age where being gay doesn’t disqualify you from anything. We will be able to get married, have children, chase the carreers we choose. I know this is hard to understand. You will never know exactaly what they are going through, but if you trust, love, communicate, and believe everything will be ok.
Trent and I are on our forth year of being together. We met, very unromantically, at a bar. We exchanged numbers and nothing happened for several weeks. after a random text we started dating and everything happened really quickly after that. We began spending everyday together. Our thing was to get a frozen pizza, a brownie mix and a movie. We came home from the store one day Trent sat on counter as I made the brownies and he looked at me (Trent has a look he gets when he is about to say something important) with his eyebrowns furrowed and said ” do you like me? because I like you a little, a lot.” I laughed… maybe I shouldn’t have but he looked so cute and clueless at that moment. The truth was I did like him very much. I told him i liked him a little, alot too… and thus our very elequant relationship began. How could i have known that he was the one i had been waiting for. he was the one that could and would make my life complete. We have been through thick and sometimes very thin… Health and sickness, poor and poorer, happy and devistatingly sad. We have met adversity standing side by side. He makes me the man I am meant to be. Four years has felt like a second and a million centuries at the same time.
I write this entry so that you may see how much this man means to me. I never thought it possible for one person to love another this much. If you are married or have ever loved someone you know the feeling I discribe. Does this man not deserve the title of husband, because what other title can explain what he means to me. It is far beyond boyfriend and when I say partner I feel like I’m introducing a business partner. No the only title that can truely encompass what he means to me is husband. It is not a desire to “deminish” or “defile” the meaning of marriage, it is to uphold and honor it. It is the desire to proclaim to the world that you are a family, and that your love is real, deep, and devoted.
Thank you to our amazing friends (Chris and Sarah) for getting us set up on this new site. This blog is a peek into our lives as we go through the experience of this amazing year. I am thankful to them for making it possible to reach a larger readership. This is the best way to magnify my small voice and hopefully, if enough people listen, we can make a difference.