A dream has been coming true for us this past week.
Our son Glen's boyfriend Will called us out of the blue Wednesday, and wanted to come over and meet with us. Glen and Will have been together for about three years, and there have been a few times when one or the other of them have come to us with difficult questions in search of advice. We wondered what new question or challenge might be around the corner, and why Will wanted to speak to both of us alone.
As it turned out, Will arrived with a request I'd never expected. He wanted Göran's and my blessing to ask Glen to marry him.
I remembered when Glen was first placed with us as a foster son, reading through the file the social workers had given us. I remembered reading the goals Glen had written for himself and his life. In the last month, Glen -- now a junior at the University of Minnesota -- was accepted into the National Dean's List Society. He's preparing for a career in urban planning. He's playing a leadership role both locally and nationally in the gay fraternity my husband is a founding member of (Delta Lambda Phi). And now, this... One by one, he's accomplishing his goals, including finding a life partner to help give those goals a new kind of meaning.
Of course, Göran was already planning the wedding. Will's idea was a long engagement -- a wise idea as far as both families are concerned. They have decided to wait to actually tie the knot until after both of them have graduated, though they wanted to make this commitment to each other now.
Will had a romantic date planned for the following Saturday night. After dinner, he would take Glen to his favorite scenic spot in the Twin Cities. (Prospect Park, under the "Witch's Hat" tower.) A mutual friend of theirs would help prepare the scene with candle-lit paper lanterns. Will showed us a picture of the ring.
We were in tears as we hugged him good night. Of course he left with our blessing!
The toughest part was keeping my mouth shut for three days until the event itself. In the meantime, friends and family of both Glen and Will planned to gather at a nearby restaurant on Saturday night, to eagerly await word.
Of course, through the miracle of Facebook and our iPhones, we were apprised while waiting at the restaurant shortly after Will had popped the question. A message appeared on Glen's FB page: "Glen and Will got engaged," with a picture I'd taken of the two of them at Thanksgiving!
When the newly engaged fiancés arrived at the restaurant, we were there with Will's mom and his sister, and about twenty or so other friends. Applause! Hugs and hugs galore, and more tears!
Glen and Will had both wept together after Glen had said Yes Of Course. I asked Glen: "So what exactly did he ask you? What were the words?" And Glen grinned, "I don't remember, exactly! I was too excited. Something about wanting to know if I would spend the rest of my life with him."
I reminded Glen of that list of goals of his I'd read so many years ago. "I'm so proud of you, I told him." That moment will go down in my life's history as one of my happiest.
Isn't this how it's supposed to be?
At a time that is within my lifetime, a man pledging his love to the man he wanted to spend his life with made him an outcast -- from his family, from his church, from civil society. It required choices that no person should have to make. It forced a kind of social dismemberment. It was sort of like having to cut your arm off in order to save your life. So many of us suffered horribly. And so many of us have never quite completely healed from the wounds caused by those choices.
For many of us -- depending what part of the country, or what religion you come from -- that kind of dismemberment is still a reality.
But we are trying to give a better world to our children. Göran and I vowed to ourselves and to our foster son that we would give him the youth we ourselves had been denied. We would keep him safe, and give him, as a young gay man, a context to learn about himself and about relationships that would lay a foundation for hope, for love, for faith, for family.
Sometimes we fought like hell. Gay or straight, teaching values to your kids can be a battle. That's what it's like having a teenage son! It was worth it.
Two young men pledging to spend their lives together deserve to be surrounded by family and friends, rejoicing with them. And of course we were there making pledges of our own: to be there for them, to be one more guarantee of their happiness, no matter what happens. I was so glad to be there with Göran as part of the cloud of witnesses cheering them on earlier tonight. I was so grateful for Will's mom (and his dad, unable to be there physically, but present in spirit).
I gave my heart and soul to a political battle for same-sex marriage this past year. My involvement in the campaign against Amendment 1 was one form of the fulfillment of the pledge I made years ago when we took Glen in to protect him and keep him safe. And thanks be to God, we won that battle. Glen and Will have a year or two till they've both graduated from college. Which means I have more work to do, because I feel like the best wedding present my husband and I could give him would be for the two of them to be able to marry here in our home state.
What will the two of them do with their lives? I don't ultimately know. I know that whatever they choose to do, they will be able to do it with more confidence, with more poise, and more love, because they'll have each other. And of course they'll have us and all the rest, that whole village that it takes to ensure boys grow up to become men. I know that whatever Glen and Will do, it will be fantastic.
Though, personally, I'm hoping for some grand kids.