#719 – Dick Bernard: A Right long denied, finally granted.

Back in 2000, my college, Valley City State University, endeavored to publish an Alumni Directory. To my knowledge, this was a first time venture for our institution, and when the opportunity to participate came, I, and a lot of other folks took the risk of spending a few dollars, and revealing a little bit about ourselves.
I had been nearly 40 years out of college when the Directory came, and I had rarely been back. I looked through the index for names I recognized, and one of them was my college roommate for three years at “STC”. His was a terse descriptor: he was a Media Specialist (librarian) in a large urban high school. His listing did not include spouse or children (a common addition), but did include an e-mail address.
We made contact, and at some point along the way, we met for lunch.
Our single meeting was one of those “long ago and far away” kinds of conversations…yes, we had shared a college dorm room for three years those long years earlier, but we had come to the college as strangers, and while we got along well (I think), and participated in some of the same kinds of things, after college we went our separate ways.
I don’t recall that we got into the nitty gritty of personal lives at that lunch, but at some point along the way, my roomie mentioned his “partner”. It was not till then that I had an inkling that my roomie was gay. That made no difference to me. He was then, and obviously now as well, a good guy and I was simply glad to have become reacquainted.
Fast forward to 2012, and the second edition of the VCSU Alumni Directory. Another risk, taken.
Presently the volume came, and this one included more personal information IF one so elected. Quite a number of us went into quite a bit of detail in the 2012 volume, including my college room-mate from 1958-61.
In relevant part this retiree said this about his personal life: “… I’m in a 29 year old relationship with my partner, Sam. When Sam retires, we are moving to the farm. No, actually a real farm…you know, chickens, ducks, geese, cows and stuff. Don’t ask what it too to talk me into this. My best wishes to all….”
I’ve not seen Dick since that one meeting some years ago, and I’ve never met Sam, but hope to. Dick and I are in touch on occasion by e-mail.
There are many other thoughts about others I’ve known which I might share, but I’m making this Dick and Sam’s day.
My thoughts are with my college roommate and his partner today, more so than most, since the Minnesota Governor has signed into law new legislation that appears to give gay couples the rights that straight couples have always had.
Something that seemed impossible a year ago has now come to fruition.
I don’t know enough about the details of the new law to comment on it, but I am absolutely delighted that it passed and was signed.
What made the difference between ten years ago, last year and now?
In my opinion, it was the gay population “coming out”, everywhere.
It had to be a horribly difficult first step for most, but it was the absolutely essential first step.
Once family members, and co-workers, and friends, and fellow parishioners and others in our many “circles” found out that that the fine person they knew was gay, they could accept him or her as no different than they were – another human being with feelings and rights to express those feelings, and not to be discriminated against because of sexual preference.
We all can learn a powerful lesson from seeing what happened when people got their voices and spoke up.
My guess is this change is a permanent one, and it won’t be long before people wonder why we waited so long….

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