Monday, October 15, 2012

Tom and Shane

When Joe and I first got together, within our first year, we combined our finances and decided that societal support or not, we were going to be a couple. The bank at the time refused, at first, to allow us to open a joint personal bank account. Two men were allowed a joint business account but not a joint personal account. We battled the bank, and surprisingly for the time, won. Even though the battle ended up in our being reviled as customers by those who worked at the bank, tellers didn't want to serve us, we still had our joint account and we didn't really care what others thought. This was forty three years ago and it was a much different time.

The second thing we did, after securing our bank account, was to make out wills and powers of attorney. We were university students, we had nothing, but we were leaving nothing to chance. I didn't want to end up, actually I feared ending up, in the graveyard in the town I grew up in. I wanted Joe to be the person making those decisions and so I made sure that he had the power to do so. This simply made sense to us. We lived in a time of 'unwelcome' and where people openly and publicly used anti-gay slurs and where we were very cautious about who we told. But we figured a joint bank account along with a will and a power of attorney and we were good to go. We, both of us, are thankful that we never had to test our planning.

My heart broke watching this video, I felt for Tom and Shane. While I can understand the love, I can't imagine the loss. To have to face such prejudice while dealing with grief is inexcusable.


I think, perhaps, that the human ability to politicise love is one of the worst traits of our species. The power to decry another's love, the power to deny another's love, the power to vilify another's love is a frightening power.

To have the power to determine who God will love and from whom God will take his love.

To have the power to determine who may proclaim their love and to make silent those who wish to name their love.

To have the power to create policy, to create law, to create moral codes that sanctify one's own loving while criminalising another's heart.

To have these powers is simply dangerous.

We in the disability movement know this.

We know that there are those who would deny the rights of people with intellectual disabilities to love and to marry.

We know that there are those who would deny the rights of people with physical disabilities to parent and to raise children.

We know that there are those who have once, and would love to again, turn laws into scalpels that maim and sterilise.

We, in the disability community, know.

We need to see that loving, politicised is a dangerous thing. We need to see that the most revolutionary commandment made was that we love one another. We need to see that love in the mouth of one is hatred in the ears of another.

We need, all of us, to make sure that we protect ourselves. But we need, too, all of us to join in the fight for the right for each human being to take ownership of loving, to have unimpeded access to the territories of the heart.

It's a revolutionary idea.

Which is why love is easier said than done.


Tamara said...

Perfectly said: "I think, perhaps, that the human ability to politicise love is one of the worst traits of our species."

Hard video to watch first thing in the morning, but so worth the time spent. I've always heard this type of situation as a "talking point" about legalizing gay marriage, and I understood it in my head; but their story - and the beautiful way it was told - makes it so much more real.

I hope it changes minds. So many minds still need to be changed.

I do have to add, that I find the story of Dave and Joe remarkable - I remember those times ... you were light years ahead of them ... :-)

Anonymous said...


saw the video and did not know waht to do first after I finished crying.

Then discovered how grateful I can be to live in an comparishable safe country. That for me it is something quite naturally to know people and have friends that live together outside the concept of male to female love. That I sometimes am able to stop thinking about my worth in society inspite of my disability (which was a huge learning process for me) and just live - and someday maybe even accept a relationship for myself...

I will tell all my friends about this video, not because this would be a big issue around them , but because it is still in issue in this world and in other peoples heads. In turkey they still kill openly gay couples...

It hurts to know the boundries in your own head as well as in other peoples heads. But it is something to work on!
I am working on it every day.


Anonymous said...


I want to send something to you via (snail) mail. ( real mail)
Is ther a official address in Canada you can give or show to me?
Since my emails do not seem to reach you...

Anonymous said...

I think Julia raises a poignant point about the different levels of persecution that GLBT people face around the world (or, I would say, even within the same country, or the same city, or the same apartment building, as so much variation has to do not only with national-level factors such as legislation but also very personal factors such as the level of support or lack thereof from one's own family).

There is an organization,, that works to fight GLBT persecution all around the world, including in those countries where being gay can lead to a literal death sentence or jail sentence. There are probably other organizations like this working at an international level, though I am not as familiar with them.

Does anyone here know of an equivalent international organization working to promote the right of people with disabilities to love whom they will love, develop meaningful realtionships with others, and so forth?


wendy said...

So horribly sad.

My parnter and I had been together 17 years when it became legal for us to marry. We did so quickly, in a very small ceremony, because a federal election was coming and we were afraid a new government might take away our right to marry.

In part, we married specifically to protect and enshrine our legal status in relation to each other. That wasn't the only reason...but it was a reason.