Marcos + Mikee

 (c) Catalina Kulczar, 2013

(c) Catalina Kulczar, 2013

A dog named Rita, a biography of Malcolm X, a shirtless handstand after a bike ride on a hot summer day, and Friendster.

It was the combined forces of the list above that would conspire to bring Mikee from Michigan and Marcos from Toronto together in New York City. Initially, Mikee and Marcos didn’t want to be introduced via a mutual friend because, ugh, just because they’re both gay doesn’t mean they want to meet each other, but it all eventually worked out.

Marcos, having Friendster-stalked Mikee after an initial pot brownie-fueled meeting, moved to New York in July 2005, drunkenly confessed his love for Mikee in August, and moved in with Mikee in October. Nearly nine years and a cupcake commitment ceremony later, the two are not legally married, but own a place and two dogs together. They’re practically married.

As a committed couple in a long-term relationship, the two acknowledge how lucky they are to live in the bubble of NYC, where they don’t actively experience the hate and the persecution they read about in the media. But as much as they are physically removed from these instances, it takes them back to the memories of being bullied as children for being different, which not surprisingly, isn’t so different from the things that those against gay marriage do and say.

But as Mikee says, proximity can fuel or mitigate ignorance—lack of proximity can drive the fear and bullying rhetoric, and close proximity can lead to understanding and acceptance. They’ve seen it from purposely spending as much time as possible with their nephew from rural Michigan, who could tell that the closeness that Mikee and Marcos share went beyond friendship, to Marcos’s traditional Chinese family, who see gay marriage as a non-issue since it has been legal in Canada for so many years already. And they’re confident that the longer same sex marriage is legal here, in the United States, the more people will forget that it’s an issue.

The first step to that, however, is full equality in all 50 states.