Tim Hare has been married to his partner Earl for the past ten years. I recently sat down with Hare to speak with him about his coming out, what it's like to be gay in Easton, and why prejudice against those who are LGBTQ might be the last societally sanctioned discrimination.
"I came out into the gay ghetto in Pittsburgh in 1972. I was fresh from a divorce, a different-sex marriage. Just by coincidence, someone took me to a private nightclub and I had a nice evening, and then I realized, 'My God…there are only men in this club...' The next morning I realized, 'I wonder if I'm gay?' Because it seemed comfortable, very comfortable. More comfortable than any other time in my life. It was quite a shock, because I had really denied it, repressed that part of myself for my whole life, from about age three, because it was simply not acceptable. It would get you thrown out of school; you could go to jail, actually. We were illegal until 2003 when the Supreme Court ruled that we weren't criminals. 2003! This was the 1940s and 50s. By the time we were pushing 30, I met Earl, and I said here's a chance for us to go home and to start getting honest, because in New York we could be honest. Wouldn't get fired, wouldn't get bashed, wouldn't get murdered. Earl had death threats from his own family, and my family wasn't far behind. I just had threats of 'major surgery.' I always joked that I was raised in a terrorist training camp. It was terrifying. And I don't call it 'homophobia'; homophobia puts the problem in the wrong place. It puts it on the homo. The problem in Ferguson right now is white racism, not black inferiority, so same with us. I call it 'heterosex-supremacy,' because we're always called 'same-sex couples.' When have you ever been called, with your wife, 'different-sex couples'? It puts the name where the problem belongs because that's where the solution has to happen. We're not the problem. The human race is hardwired with the need to choose to feel superior to another human being. So we have become the scapegoat. All we did was show up here queer; we didn't invade from Planet Queer. Think about this: when kids get bullied at school for being a minority, they come home to their same-minority parents and get comforted. Here, in our case, they go home and they get butchered. They get thrown out. I've had too many cases when we started coming out where I thought, 'Oh, friends, people in my family, they're liberal, they won't have any problem with it.' Yet, I've been harassed in the workplace. I've been gay-bashed. I've been blackmailed. Bullied, certainly. My whole life long. But it doesn't stop me from showing up for myself, because when I stop, they win. And Earl and I have gotten pretty practiced through 38 years of this. But the biggest shock is that every time we're in the paper, or even something like your blog, I get a cold sweat. It's post-traumatic shock. When the Express-Times did a front page story of our wedding announcement, this was 2003, we were mortified. Instead of feeling flattered, we thought our house would be burned down; we thought we'd be assassinated; we thought we would be--hopefully--just killed, not tortured first. That's internalized heterosexism. But I can see the world is changing. It's okay to be a bigot; good luck with that. But it's also okay for us to tell it like it is. There is no debate anymore. I'm no longer silenced and my voice is heard."
Editor's Note: Got this update from Tim a little while ago. Here it is in its entirety:
Earl and I hope you will add the following updates to our ever-evolving reality:
1. Our 2003 Canadian marriage was permanently and legally recognized in every American state and territory, at midnight, July 21, 2015.
This reality is thanks to the favorable Constitutional ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States that expanded their former ruling of June 2014.
That former ruling had unfortunately created, for over a year, an unConstitutional JimCrow-type patchwork of freedom-to-marry states vs. unfree states (Pennsylvania was an unfreedom state, as were dozens of other states, now all are free).
2. We celebrated our 40th Anniversary on September 19, 2016, having fallen in love at first sight, in Easton in 1976.
3. We are grateful to now update your readers that the inhumane heterosex-supremacist abuse we were targeted for, forty years ago, that originated from some members of our families of origin, has now mostly reversed.
This progress is thanks to the passage of many decades of time that resulted in the evolution of thinking and awareness among most in our family (and American society), transforming into an improved attitude of acceptance and unconditional love.
4. A sinister toxic cloud is now suddenly cast over the future of our legal marriage, because of the Electoral College's likely selection of a new President this month, unless the ongoing recouting changes the election winner, and his installation next month into the most powerful office on Earth.
This heterosex-supremacist President-Elect has continuously promised for 18 months to appoint only Supreme Court judges that would reverse and utterly undo for the rest of our lives the previous SCOTUS rulings that had finally won us the "permanent" freedom to marry.
Whether or not his appointed judges, once installed and thereby becoming permanently independent-thinking about the Constitution for the rest of their lifetimes, would actually rule against our freedom to marry, as they lean now, this is a dangerous threat that is quite real, until such time when it is actually proven to NOT be a danger.
Nevertheless, Earl and I are somewhat comforted by the fact that three-fourths of eligible American voters chose to NOT support this heterosex-supremacist President.
We are also cheered about his loss of the majority of the popular vote - losing to Hillary Clinton, a non-supremacist, by over 2 million votes.
Because his political 'victory' is far from an American-Citizen-Mandate, we do not feel as isolated and alone in our disappointment as we might have otherwise.
Had his victory turned out to be a landslide of support, instead of the actual support of him by only one-fourth of Americans that are eligible to vote, we could have felt 'surrounded' by heterosex-supremacists at every glance.
However, our small comfort could become icy cold comfort indeed, should the President-Elect's campaign promises actually result in the destruction of our freedom to marry in America.
Beware to those kind-hearted folk when trying to assure us that our marriage is perfectly safe from such harm. Thank you for your speculation, but we are too aware that the over ninety-percent of our fellow Americans are people born heterosexual. Those that marry someone of different sex are never a target.
Whether these different-sex marriages are comprised of real heterosexuals, or comprised of so many that pretend to be heterosexual for the perks, status and entitlement, they would never be suddenly turned into this political football/nightmare that Earl and I are living with. Solely such marriages comprised of loving Americans born like Earl and me are inhumanely targeted for future destruction.
These are the stories of the people of Easton, PA