Tom and Neil’s love story is a journey that speaks to the plight of gay and lesbians in America. We can still be fired from our jobs for being gay, we can still lose our housing for being gay yet thankfully we can finally get legally married. The fight is not over. And this is where we come to Tom and Neil, who’ve been together for 23 years and have lived through some incredibly hard discrimination as a gay couple. But they persevered and we are delighted to show you their equally ever after.
From Neil: Tom and I met 23 years ago here in Cincinnati…We dated for only a few months before deciding that we had found our soul mates. We purchased a house together and moved in during the spring of 1993. It was not an easy time, however, to be a gay couple. We were in love but felt uncomfortable sharing it with anyone, other than very close friends. I remember many Monday mornings at work when colleagues would ask what I did over the weekend. My response was always that I went to a movie with “a friend”, or that I went to dinner with “some friends.” I kept thinking how crazy it was that everyone else was talking about their wife or husband, and using actual names and I only referred to my partner as a friend and never gave him a name. I felt I didn’t have another option, as I was fearful of losing my job, since I worked for a conservative organization in a conservative city.
Tom was not so lucky. He didn’t even have a chance to tell stories about anonymous friends. Shortly after we moved into our house, a jealous colleague at school informed his principal that Tom had purchased a house with another man. Tom promptly lost his job.
We were devastated and afraid that with the loss of income we might also lose our home. It was an incredibly stressful time for us. The pain of the situation was compounded by the fact that I couldn’t tell anyone at work what happened, because then I would be outing myself and risk both of us being unemployed. Fortunately we made it through and were able to continue building our life together.
When we look back on those days, it is so hard for us to believe that we now find ourselves in a world where we no longer have to hide who we are and who we love. We could have never imagined 23 years ago that we would be able to not only talk about our love and life, but that we will actually be able to legally marry and publicly declare our love. We have been so touched by the number of colleagues at both our workplaces who plan to celebrate with us in New York — people who 23 years ago would not have known of our partner’s existence.
Tom and I are thankful to have had such a loving relationship for so many years. We’re proud to now introduce each other as “my husband.”