25 June 2015

Why Do I Give A Crap About Equality?

A Message From Donnie Kendall
Allow Donnie to "step outta character" for a moment, and give you a rare glimpse inside his heart and mind. The guard is down. Here we go...

Beginning at birth, I was exposed to all walks of life. Our family traveled all over the country, meeting new people along the way. I was never shielded from the diversity of the world. I watched as my parents laughed with, hugged, and genuinely loved people of all different races, religions, backgrounds, and sexual orientations. I never saw skin color or gender or disabilities, I saw human beings with whom to share life experiences.

Equality is important to me for several reasons, and one of those reasons is my Uncle Gary. He and his partner, Don, welcomed us into their home back in the 1980s while we were visiting California. Uncle Gary was a beautiful human being with a hilarious sense of humor, and an extremely kind and gentle heart. Even as a child, I knew Uncle Gary and Don loved each other dearly, but I also noticed people mocking them in public. I didn't understand why people would shout mean things to them, especially when they didn't know them. I didn't understand why Uncle Gary would move all the way to California when practically the whole family lived in Michigan. All he talked about was how much he missed the family and loved them. I asked, "why don't you and Uncle Don just come back to Michigan with us?" He smiled and hugged me as tears formed in his eyes, "Someday you may understand, Donnie."

I later found out most of the family disowned him. He moved away to have his own life, but ridicule followed him everywhere he went. He never hurt anyone. He just wanted to find happiness. So no, Uncle Gary. I will never understand how anyone could be made to feel so inferior for something they did not choose or ask for. Being gay isn't a choice. Being ignorant is.

Uncle Gary passed away years ago. I miss him. I love him. He never got to feel accepted by most of the family members who shunned him. He never had the chance to be recognized legally as a couple with his committed partner, and one of the only people in the world who showed him unconditional love. It's a shame. I would have loved to be a groomsman at their wedding. 

My parents and Uncle Don and Uncle Gary taught me a lot. They taught me to not just tolerate people, but accept them. I am blessed to have grown up in a home that taught, and more importantly DISPLAYED love, acceptance, and respect for everyone.

We're close, Uncle Gary. I really wish you were here to celebrate this grand awakening.

Top Right: Baby Donnie with Mom and Dad
Lower Left: Uncle Gary


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