A Life Lesson

I shared a moment with a complete stranger and now I want to share it with you. I went to go have my taxes done tonight. My girlfriend picked somebody out of the phone book based on his name, it was kitschy.  He does this from his home and has been doing it about 20 years. I would guess he was in his late 60’s or maybe even early 70’s??? We sat down and started the process. He asked how I would be filing and I stated that Federal would be single and the State would be married. He looked at me with a very perplexed expression. I explained to him that I was gay and that the federal government doesn’t recognize my relationship but for now the state does. He sort of stared at me with the deer in headlights look. He asked a few more questions and we moved on. I couldn’t help but feel that he looked at me like I was a newly discovered species or perhaps an alien life form. Every few minutes he would ask a question about me being a lesbian. He was never rude or condescending, always very gentlemanly and respectful as I’m sure most people are from his era. He seemed to have a genuine curiosity. He asked if we had any trouble with the law or government while adopting our children. I explained that
California was one state that allowed same sex couples to adopt. He asked, -did your uh, um, companion live with you all 12 months last year”? (tax question) I laughed to myself as he searched for the words to describe her. I told him, definitely, we had been together for over 13 years. He asked if there were a lot of people in town that was the same, let’s call it religion he says. I said yes, quite a few. I couldn’t help but feel like a scientist explaining this rare new species to a student. He always seemed to struggle for the right words to say and somehow never managed to get them correct. He asked if I had ever been harassed. I told him that I personally had never been in that situation but that the gay community as a whole has been discriminated against. I brought up Prop. 8 and he said he was torn on how to vote on that. I never pressed to find out how he did vote because I must admit, I didn’t want to know. We spent just as much time talking about my life as we did about my taxes. I’m not complaining though, I’m getting back a nice refund, CHA CHING!

Why was I not angry? Is it because I’m a softie? Is it because I found his sweet ignorance endearing? Could it be that he really was just curious about something he knew nothing about. Shouldn’t I have stormed out when I discovered that he probably voted yes on 8? Heck, I got angry and had to correct a man who came to my house a few days ago to give me an estimate then told me to talk it over with my husband. Why not now? Why not him? As our session was ending I asked him if I was the first gay person he had ever met. He said, -Yes. At least the only one I’ve ever known about”. WOW! 60+ years of life and he had never encountered an -us”! No wonder he looked at me like I was an alien, because to him I really was! All of the questions and uncertainty in his words all now made sense. I really was foreign to him. As he walked me to the door, he put his hand on my shoulder and said thank you for opening up to me and being honest. I left his house with a warm feeling in my heart and a smile on my face.

I changed a man tonight. I educated a man tonight. I connected on a human level with a man tonight. I could have stormed off in protest over everything but I chose to stay. I think the moral to this story is….. Pick your battles. Sometimes you can do more good by sticking it out then you can by walking away. I can’t help but think that the next time he has to take note or vote on a gay issue that he will think of me. And perhaps, just maybe it will be enough to sway his opinions.

Thank you for reading this long story. Remember, change starts with just one person, you. May peace be with you all.

 

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