Dream of: 21 November 1995 "Married In Church"

I was at a graduation ceremony taking place inside a church. I, along with many other people with whom I had been going to school, was graduating. At the same time, many of the students were going to be married to each other in a massive marriage ceremony.

As I was walking along the pews toward my seat, I saw John Smith. (John Smith was a lanky, black-haired fellow whom I had met in the early 1970s when he came home from Vietnam and we had loafed together for a period. He was heavily into drugs, and we didn't sustain a long friendship. I later heard he had died of carbon monoxide poisoning after his car had gotten stuck in a snow bank one night in the mid 1970s.)

As he walked toward his seat, I impulsively turned to him and asked him if he would like to marry me. He seemed to think that would be fine, and in a whirlwind, he and I, along with many other couples, were all married there in the church. Immediately after the ceremony, John and I sat back down in the pews with John sitting on my right.

Only now did I begin to reflect on what I had done. What had possessed me to marry John Smith? I had noticed several other people had also married someone of the same sex. It had never been suspected that some of those people were gay, and it came as a great surprise to many other people to learn that the ones marrying their own sex were gay – just as I now reflected it must have come as a great surprise for many people to see me marrying John. Which meant of course that many people had probably concluded I was gay. The problem was that I wasn't gay. I had no attraction whatever for men. Why in the world would I have married John Smith, whom I didn't even like that much as a person? I almost felt nauseated just thinking about it, and I began to become quite fatigued.

Then I awoke. I was lying on my back in a bed. Lying next to me on my left was John – still sleeping. We had spent the night in the same bed, but I had worn my clothes to bed and had taken care that we didn't actually touch each other in any way. Now as I lay there between white sheets with the cover pulled over me, I began reflecting on what I had done. I felt sick about it: I was married to John Smith. I might even have to divide half my property with him. There must be some way out.

Then it occurred to me: in the state where I was, it wasn't legal for people of the same sex to marry. That was the answer. The words "no legal status" flashed in my mind. Even though we had been married in a church, we had not been legally married. I was sure now that I could figure some way out of this mess.

Sitting on the bed-stand on my right was a brown long-neck bottle of beer. I picked it up, flipped off the cap with my thumb. Still lying down, I took a drink, but once begun, I didn't stop till I was done. Instead of just taking one drink I just held the bottle inverted over my mouth and let the beer roll out and straight down my throat until I had finished the whole bottle. I knew it was a little early to start drinking – I wasn't even out of bed yet - but that didn't stop me.

I stood up from the bed. John was awake and I spoke to him about our predicament. I brought up the words "no legal status" as I tried to explain my position about our marriage. He didn't seem particularly concerned one way or the other. I picked up another long neck which was already opened and brought it to my lips. Only when I had some of the beer in my mouth did I realize this was a beer which I had opened the previous night and had left sitting there. I thought of just throwing it away, but it didn't seem that bad and I thought I would probably be able to drink it.

I walked out of the bedroom and into a small kitchen. The layout of the rooms resembled the second floor of the my father's Gay Street House in Portsmouth, Ohio. In fact, when I opened up the upper cabinet doors in the kitchen, looking for something to eat, I saw some food which I knew my father had left there. I also saw about 20 packages of Ding Dongs – chocolate pastries with white creamy filling – which I recalled I had left there. I thought one of those would make a good breakfast.

I became distracted from my breakfast, however, for as I fumbled around, I looked out one of the windows and saw an unusual scene outside: a shiny red car came roaring down the street, went out of control and crashed – rolling over a couple times. A man, apparently unscathed, stepped out of the car and dusted himself off. The man was a light-colored black (about 30 years old), strong and muscular. He wasted no time. He walked right over to another black woman who had seen the accident and ran her off; obviously he didn't want any witnesses. Other black people – apparently his friends – began gathering around him until there were about 20 of them. They were a rather fierce-looking bunch.

I tried to keep out of sight. I was no longer upstairs, but was in the small downstairs front office of the Gay Street House. As the group began walking in the direction of the House, I kept watching, but tried to keep out of sight; I certainly didn't want any trouble with them. Only when they were almost by the door of the office did I realize the door was partially open. With a sinking feeling I feared that they might realize someone was in the house watching and that they would come inside after me.

I watched the group pass by. When it was almost completely past, finally four or five people marched into the office. I stood there startled, not knowing what I was going to do. Only slowly did I realize that all the faces looking at me were white and friendly, and that indeed I recognized them. They were some of the people with whom I had graduated the previous day. They had come to have their pictures taken by me.

Now I remembered that I was a professional photographer and that I had my camera equipment set up in one of the downstairs rooms of the House. It was to be my duty to take pictures of all my classmates who had graduated with me. These standing before me were the first group.

I felt disconcerted. I realized that these people were a bit early, and that I wasn't quite ready yet to start photographing, but at the same time I was so relieved that these people had come in to be photographed, and had not been part of the black gang, that I didn't care if they were early. I asked them to wait for a few minutes while I got things ready.

As I left the room, I had an idea: I knew I wasn't planning to long continue my career as a photographer, but it occurred to me that I might be able to teach John how to take pictures. I knew John had no skills at present for any kind of work. If I could teach him to take photographs, when we separated, he would have a usable skill. He could even use my equipment. It seemed like an excellent idea.

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