This is why living an out gay life, every unassuming day after every unassuming day, is so important.
My partner and I have lived in this small Mississippi town since 2002. While we haven't flown the rainbow flag, the old home we restored on the main drag made it pretty clear. Every day that we have lived here we have just been a part of this community in the same important, boring ways as everyone else.
Sure, we've had a few insults yelled at us and even had our house paintballed once. But the rest of the town got to see us give something back to this town, to have family members share in the joy of our lives, to have friends sit on the front porch and just watch the town go about its business.
Everyone recognized us, me especially because I took my walks right through the heart of town. At one particular house down the street I found a lonely married lady, crippled by mental and emotional issues, who rescued greyhounds. Everyday that I walked by, I waved and smiled. Later, she would come to the porch, and I would speak to her, the dogs, or her son. Finally, she stopped and asked me to have conversation.
I don't remember much about that first conversation, but I found her to be a bright, if troubled, young woman. And I always spoke, checked on her if she were absent, and just behaved neighborly.
Fast forward three more years and a big abandoned lot became available right beside her house. It was her husband's family place and he needed to sell it. We made an offer. And we began building our new house.
During this entire construction time, I and my partner and she and her husband dealt with each other on a more personal basis, with questions about fence allowances, adjoining trees, etc. We even worked out a way for our dogs to play together until the finishing touches on our fences could be made. In essence, we became more than neighbors; we became friends.
Just yesterday she came over to visit, "to have conversation," she put it. She told me that that very first day that I walked by and waved had changed her life. That because of my constant friendliness she began to grow out of her depression and seclusion. And she so hoped that the man who wanted the lot would be my partner.
Her husband was leery, at best. But she told me she finally got him to see us as just people--people who would make the best neighbors. He relented and has since told her it was the best thing he ever did.
So today she wanted to come to tell me the impact I had on her life. And, with tears streaming down her face, to apologize for her cruelty to me personally in voting for the Mississippi Marriage Amendment.
Every day we make a difference. We must remember that.