Today we celebrate a year of gay marriage and mourn the tragic loss of the lives of our brothers and sisters in Orlando. Many years ago when I had sex every night I did the impossible and got up before seven. With my trusty Nikon I went to the foot of Howard Street and photographed the parade floats as they were getting a final tune up before beginning the procession up Market Street. Once the parade began I moved along with it up Market Street sometimes getting into the street to take photographs of nuns on roller skates and the Gays Against Brunch. I was bushed by the time I got to Civic Center plaza but I knew the day was historic so I continued taking photographs and stopped only long enough to consume a big greasy Polish sausage.
Drawn to it by my yet unacknowledged homosexuality I watched the first gay pride parade on Polk Street with my wife and my very young son. It was a rag tag affair but what sticks in memory are the hot day and the determination of the men and women in that parade who were doing something no one had ever done before by simply being themselves.
I have come a long way since then, and as I watched a series of videos of unique and touching gay marriage proposals some complete with flash mobs on the Internet this morning, I teared at each because they reminded me of Michael Schoch. I had the very good fortune to fall in love and be loved by him a truly beautiful human being for eighteen years. He died of AIDS in 1994. I resisted his desire for rings because I grew up with four parents and was scared of commitments. Nonetheless Michael surprised me on my first birthday with an evening in the top floor suite at the Mark Hopkins hotel complete with a stack of telegrams from friends, a fruit basket and Chateaubriand for dinner. Michael had everything planned to a T including my suit in a closet so I could go across the street the next day to a conference I was attending at the Fairmont Hotel as a representative of the mayor properly attired. The only thing he missed was rolling papers, but with a quick call to the Concierge and we had them ten minutes later. After dinner we got stoned and made passionate love in every room in the suite including the two tiled bathrooms. I climbed the fire escape ladder on the outdoor patio and watched well-dressed people eating dinner in the Top of the Mark restaurant in my white cotton underwear. The next morning I finished my magical time there with a breakfast of Eggs Benedict in the suite’s solarium.
That night in the Mark Hopkins suite once used by the King of Norway was not a flash mob but if it happened today and he proposed to me I would accept.