It took me a long time to get to pride. The walk through shame was long and perilous. I can't describe the feelings I had in marching in Toronto's first pride march, my heart raced like an engine that was powered by shame set ablaze by fear. When I remember that day, I remember those feelings, so much so that I have to force myself to remember that, fear or not, shame or not, I was there, I marched.
I lectured for a couple of years before Joe ever came to hear me. I invited him to come to hear me speak to an agency serving youth in the city of Toronto where I had been invited to speak about homosexuality and intellectual disability. I remember Joe sitting there, his nerves for me almost out of control. And in the middle of the speech, I stopped and identified him. I felt the stirrings of pride in identifying this man who loved me.
Over the next couple of decades, pride was a companion for most of the journey. But when I had my first catastrophic illness, I was terrified. But I was not alone. I knew though that this would test our relationship in ways different than before. Joe was with me through the diagnosis and beyond. It was clear that being with me was going to involve a lot more work for him. He's still here, with barely a complaint, he offers me help.