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Cameron Hernandez

October 2000

Labeling

It wasn't the way I thought it would be, or rather the way I dreamed it would be, but nonetheless, it blew my mind away to a place I never knew existed when it happened. Granted we had been together for over a year already, and I knew he was planning to pop the big question, I just didn't think it would be so sooner rather then later.

But a few weeks apart because of a business trip he was on showed him how much I mean to him, and he said, "I just couldn't stand it! Being away really showed me what life with out you in my life would be like, and it's hell, pure hell." So he went out, bought the rings and a few nights after he got home, we went to my favorite sushi restaurant in Dupont, Washington DC with some close friends, and he made his speech and asked the question that changed my life.

I can't fully give justice to the overwhelming feeling that the sight of this one hoop of metal and a gem caused within my soul. It was like I cried and screamed, yet remained silent and scared all at the same time. I felt like everything for once in my life was right where it should be, but at the same time feared change like crazy because who knew what it would do to us if we lost control.

But the one thing that never left me was my love for my husband, Rob, and I gave him the answer he not only knew I would give, but wanted just like our friends around us knew I would give and wanted as well. Oh what a sight we all were that night at our table, me crying like a little girl only to look up to find everyone else crying like a little girl as well, so I guess I didn't look that stupid thank God!

And even though I can say it was the happiest moment of my life up until then, because I have no doubt in my mind Rob has more tricks up his sleeve that I am dying to see, but it was and is the happiest moment in my life to date. This joy we share, this love that is beyond all others, not because they love one another any less, but simply because it's ours, was not won over with out a fight.

When Rob and I first met he was already in a committed relationship of three years standing, and I was a young up and coming writer wannabe in my junior year of high school. We started off as friends, a relationship was the last thing I saw myself getting into when we first met. Not to be mean or anything, but he looked nothing like the man of my dreams did in those late night dream sessions.

Yet over time, talks, and to be more specific, a late night snack fest at Denny's truly showed me that great things, wonderful profound things don't always come with a billion dollar light show or a thousand dollar plate dinner party. It was that night, at Denny's, where we just lounged in our booth and talked and talked that I found this love for him I didn't know was possible. A love at my ripe old age of 17 everyone told me wasn't possible because I was too young to know what real true love is.

And to them I gave a big Clueless enforced "WHATEVER!"

Despite relationship speed bumps, family interference, and ex-boyfriend's hiring hit men to take me out, we managed to hold on to what we have and see each other through. Granted he is now 28 and I am 18, age like everyone always says is nothing but a number.

I am sure I have your attention now that I mentioned our ages, yes they are the real thing and so our we. Which brings me to the real purpose of this article.

Labeling in the gay community. I know for a fact that when the majority of the youth that hang out at Soho's coffee house in Dupont see us, the first thing that pops into their minds is "Sugar Daddy." I know for a fact that it's the same label that flies across the minds of the older men as well, but frankly I care more about African Dung beetles then their groundless opinions of our relationship.

Yes Rob is 9 years older than myself, so what? I am not your average 18-year-old, as every one of my close friends will confirm whole-heartedly. My life has been nothing but u-turns, military moves, dead ends, family feuds, and personal disappointments. Where my friends were worried about getting that new outfit at the mall, I was worried about my home still being there as I had left it that morning for school. About my older sister who at 18 gave birth to a beautiful diva, and had to realize that it was up to my family, which consisted of only myself, my older sister, younger sister, and mother at the time living in South East Washington DC, to raise her and keep on going.

Any of you who know DC at all know that South East is not the best place for anyone to have to live, let alone grow up, but my family is strong and we made it out of the ghetto and into a home of suburban bliss in Germantown Maryland a few years later. So, I don't need those people on the street to know who I am, in order for me to feel secure about myself and my man. But there are some things our community needs to get up and over before any real levels of unity form among us.

Labeling is something we gays do very well, in fact I think we do it better than anyone else out there, but isn't that something we're trying to fight? Are we not held back and down because of the labels that society, our so-called for the people and by the people government, and the almighty right of organized religion has placed upon us that were trying to break down, and destroy?

I think it's very ironic that with all the strong, out gay men and women who are fighting outside of the clubs, rave scenes, coffee houses, and house parties for a better future for all of us are never fully recognized yet labeled as not doing enough when they hit another roadblock by the very people who do nothing in support of our ongoing struggle for freedom and equality.

All I am asking the gay youth of America to do is realize that it's a huge, huge world we live in, with so much work that needs to be done, and it's up to us, the new generation to get up off our lazy butts and do something about it. And there is SO much we can do just in our own homes, towns, communities, and schools whereas the generation that came before us couldn't fathom having in their day, but now is as readily available to us as AOL. It's everywhere!

Don't take this power, this gift that by others' blood, sweat, and hard work has given us to make much needed changes in the world we live in for granted. There is more to life then clubbing, getting high, and discovering the joys of sex. We as a community are worth more, and we're never going to get more unless we all fight for our causes as a single, focused effort.

Now don't think the older generation of gay men and women are getting off the hook here, because you all are just as guilty of labeling as are us youth. And for once, really look at the examples you all are setting for us, and the up and coming generations of gay youth to come. I find it very hard to believe that in this day and age of endless education that casual sex is still ok among you, even worse in some aspects.

So in closing, I wish my generation nothing but the best in picking up where those ahead of us are leaving off and that one day we can see all this fighting pay off, Lord knows I wish we as a community would wake up and see that the very prejudice were supposed to hate and be fighting to do away with, we're using against one another and it's not helping to unite us, but rather causing the gaps between our groups to widen even further apart. Maybe it's about time we stop looking else where for our enemies until were ready to deal with the ones in our own reflections. Thank you for your time.

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Cameron can be reached at Tuffy1220@hotmail.com


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