As a straight white male, I will always acknowledge that the privileged
lens through which I view the world does not make me the best person to
speak on issues like this, but I’m going to try, and people are free to
weigh in through comments.
Coming out can be an incredibly difficult and stressful event in a
young person’s life. It can be a scary, confusing and isolating time,
even for those who have a supportive family — and many LGBT youth do
not. Studies show that LGBT youth are at increased risk for suicide,
homelessness, substance abuse and other risk behaviors.
According to Mass Equality
director, Marc Solomon, not only is the LGBT youth rate of suicide
attempts higher than straight youth, but HIV rates among LGBT youth are
also on the rise. While there is no evidence that Katherine Patrick
has had to deal with issues like this, there is still the added effect
of being forced into the public limelight.
Taken within this
context, Katherine Patrick’s seemingly breezy sit-down interview with
Bay Windows is courageous, and she’ll probably serve as an inspiration
not only to other LGBT youth out there, afraid to come out, but even
straight youth like myself. One of the most touching parts of the Bay
Windows interview describes, Katherine Patrick’s feelings as she
watched her father fight for marriage equality in Massachusetts:
On June 14, 2007, the day that lawmakers finally
voted down an anti-gay marriage amendment to the state constitution,
Katherine Patrick stood outside the State House and looked up at her
father. Gov. Deval Patrick was standing on the front steps, surrounded
by a jubilant crowd of hundreds that mobbed the brick sidewalk and
spilled halfway across Beacon Street. As they cheered the defeat of the
amendment – an effort led by the governor, Senate President Therese
Murray and House Speaker Sal DiMasi – Katherine had never before felt
more proud of her father.
“Because, of course, he didn’t know
that I was gay then,” the 18-year-old recalls. “So, for someone so
publicly to fight for something that doesn’t even affect him was just
like, ‘That’s my dad,’ you know?” she says with a laugh. “That’s all I
could think. I was very, very proud to be part of this family, and this
state in general.”
“It was great. I’m very glad,” she adds,
looking at her father. “Don’t cry, Dad.” Patrick’s eyes are brimming
with tears, prompting some good-natured teasing from his daughter.
“He’s done some good things,” she says with a laugh, patting his arm.
“I appreciate it. Want a tissue? Oh, God. He’s a crier.”Laura Kiritsy – Bay Windows (12 June 2008)
especially liked how Gov. Deval Patrick handled the whole situation.
It certainly makes me proud to live in a tolerant state where the
Governor thinks it’s no big deal that his daughter is a lesbian, even
going so far as to say:
You know, it’s interesting even just thinking about
having this interview. Katherine and Diane and I and her aunt and Sarah
were all talking about, you know, would we give an interview to
announce one of our kids was straight? It’s just not about the public
… it’s just about making sure that they had the fullness of their
personality and their humanity.Deval Patrick – Bay Windows (12 June 2008)
This comes at a time when Gov. Patrick has put marriage equality at number two on his top 20 list of accomplishments since he’s been in office, right below clean energy:
- Making Massachusetts a national leader on clean energy
- Joined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
with Legislature to develop comprehensive energy and advanced biofuels
legislation to help consumers deal with the rising cost of fossil fuels.
- Passed a first-in-the-nation comprehensive oceans bill for our state waters.
- Approved the final state environmental review for Cape Wind.
- Launched Commonwealth Solar rebate program to spur installation of solar electric power.
- Marriage equality for all Massachusetts residentsDeval Patrick’s Top 20 Accomplishments (10 June 2008)
I can’t express enough how ecstatic I am for all of the above. Gov.
Deval Patrick has been stellar at defending marriage equality in the
Commonwealth, and Katherine Patrick’s very public coming out was handled in the best possible way, for an administration that has had its media mishaps. With the Boston Pride gay pride parade over the weekend I would go so far as to call it a communications masterpiece.
being said, you didn’t think I was going to let the Governor off that
easy, did you? If I did, I wouldn’t be doing my job. I have one small
bone to pick with the second accomplishment on the Governor’s top 20
list: “marriage equality for all Massachusetts residents”. There is
one subset of Massachusetts residents that still do not have marriage
equality. The above statement is false.
Most same-sex couples
residing in Massachusetts can now get married, but there is still one
subset of same-sex couples that are left out in the cold. Bi-national
same-sex couples still do not have the same rights as heterosexual
couples. That is to say, if a U.S. citizen woman were to want to marry
a man who is not a citizen of the United States, there are visas and
channels to do that. But if a U.S. citizen woman wants to marry
another woman that is not from the United States, tough luck, there is
nothing she can do. A recent video from Current expresses this hardship better than I ever could:
just another way that migrants are discriminated against in the U.S.
and no one is talking about it. The only way to end this hardship is
through the Uniting American Families Act.
I really am happy for Gov. Deval Patrick and his family. It made me
smile to read about him imagining his daughter’s marriage:
[Gov. Patrick says,] “you kn
ow, I can still – because we live in
Massachusetts – I can still imagine what Katherine’s wedding is going
to be like.” Lowering his voice, he adds, “How much it’s gonna cost.”
laughs his daughter – who is single for now – indicating that she’s
dreaming of a big, fat, gay wedding. “It’s okay, Dad.”Laura Kiritsy – Bay Windows (12 June 2008)
just think it’s important to remember that there are still people
forced to be separate from their significant others just because they
were born on separate pieces of Earth.