Hello, my name is Ed, and I am a father to three great children. I married my high school sweetheart right after we both graduated from high school. I am also a straight ally.
I think it would be prudent, seeing as how this is my first blog post for Oregon Marriage Equality, to give a bit of an introduction and sort of show a timeline that brought me to where I am today regarding marriage equality.
I came from a family that wasn’t religious, but we identified ourselves as Christians. I was brought up with the basic morals that most kids are: respect your elders, treat others as you wish to be treated, and the like. We didn’t discuss political issues very often, if at all. Needless to say, I just kind of went along with my family when it came to issues. Not knowing much about human rights issues or anything political, I didn’t see where I had a place to offer up any point of view.
Regarding the topic of marriage equality, I just believed that marriage should be between a man and a woman. It was what everyone in my circle in high school believed at the time, so I just went with the flow.
After I graduated high school, I took a job in a mill working with lumber. This is the time that I began to get interested in political issues. I had a radio near my work station, and I would listen to talk radio for the entire shift. The radio station I listened to was a Fox News affiliate, so one can imagine what slant I was hearing. After the local morning show and Dr. Laura, Sean Hannity would take me from lunch right up to Bill O’Reilly, and that would end my day.
Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly have a way about them that makes one believe, especially me being new to political issues, that everything they are saying is the absolute truth. It was a few years later that I began to realize I needed to diversify my listening in order to get a bit from both sides.
This leads me up to the time where I realized that a former classmate lived near where I was living at the time. This classmate is Andrea, co-creator of Gay Marriage Oregon on Facebook and creator of this website, Oregon Marriage Equality. We talked off and on via the chat feature on Myspace; I mostly asked her about her cool car whenever I messaged her — superficial things. Then we started talking about things that were more substantial. After we became Facebook friends, she and I were talking one day, and she informed me that she is a lesbian. As I am writing this, I am wondering how hard that must have been for her to tell me.
Sometime later, we set up a day for Andrea and her girlfriend Alli to come over for dinner and hangout time. My kids were home when Andrea and Alli came over, and I was curious as to what my oldest kids would think if they saw them kiss or hold hands. Before they arrived, I explained to my boys (the oldest kids) that Andrea and Alli were coming over and that they are together. I explained it as, “You boys know how guys and girls are boyfriend and girlfriend? Well, Andrea and Alli are girlfriend and girlfriend.”
My boys smiled and kind of laughed at me like I had just told them something silly. After Andrea and Alli had been over for a while, there were a few times where they would sneak a kiss in to each other. The boys thought it was funny. I use the term “funny” in that they had never seen two girls kiss or hold hands, so it wasn’t something they were used to seeing. After the girls left, I took the time to explain to my sons that it doesn’t matter that Andrea and Alli are two girls in love, the only thing that matters is that the two of them love and care for each other just like their mom and dad do. What my oldest said in response really made me proud. My oldest said, “Dadda, it’s okay to us if Andrea and Alli are girlfriend and girlfriend.”
This first visit taught me a lot about the LGBT community. Above all, the love that Andrea and Alli were showing for each other is the exact same love and affection that any straight couple would show in the same situation. And that is when it clicked for me: Why should two people who love each other as much as my wife and I love each other be denied the same rights we are afforded as a straight couple?
I sincerely hope that sometime soon, my two friends will be able to be married if they so choose. I have become close to both of them over the years, and it is amazing to see the similarities between how they act with each other and the ways that my wife and I do.
Being a heavily tattooed, masculine looking guy, many have found it odd that I am an ally to the LGBT community. I guess there’s this assumption in our society that masculinity and tattoos equal anti-equality, but that is not always the case. I can only hope that as I contribute to the fight for marriage equality, I can help bring about a shift in the way we think. Being a man, or a man that looks a certain way, should not be equated with being anti-equality; it should actually be quite the opposite.
I have begun to find a voice as a marriage equality supporter, and slowly but surely that voice is getting louder. I started out by joining Gay Marriage Oregon on Facebook over a year ago, sharing some photos from the page, and making a quote for the straight ally section of the Facebook page and website. Now I look forward to contributing to the website and getting to know more of the LGBT and ally community.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ed Fitzgerald is a father to three children and husband to his high-school sweetheart. He is a straight ally and looks forward to the day that all couples, regardless of gender, can have their love recognized officially with a marriage. Ed recently relocated to Arizona from Oregon, where he lived his whole life. When not dealing with his arguing children or cleaning up after them, he enjoys listening to music and playing video games.