My last appearance was the evening I returned from Buffalo – straight from the airport! with QSAC: Quality Services for Autism. I met "Charlie the Matchmaker" at a Straight Talk event with dot429 and he introduced me to his husband Gary Maffei, founder of QSAC. I presented an award to one of their corporate sponsors, but also receiving an award that night was Richard Oceguera, President of the New York Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NYGLCC), and organization that has been supportive of me this year, including their donation to my Miss America ad in the program book. This was a great way to end my year, once again realizing that just because there are LGBT people supporting a cause, it does not make it a “gay” event. It is because they are people supporting human causes.
But don’t get me wrong, that room did enjoy the sash J
In the few days I had left as Miss New York, I spent my time on Long Island at my friends’ house – Eric and Walter – to relax, reflect, write my farewell and finish planning the logistics of Mr. New York. Since I was a “homeless vagabond” the last two weeks of Miss New York (My lease was up May 31 and I was traveling so much at the end of Miss NY and after, there was no reason to spend thousands of dollars on a NYC apt I was barely living in!) I was very thankful for Eric and Walter opening their home to me as my own.
I witnessed a beautiful, beautiful thing that weekend. In the two years I’ve known them – they do the musical at Hewlett HS that I choreographed after Walter judged me in Miss Jubilee – we have of course talked about my service and platform as Miss NY, but I had heard Walt say before, “I don’t need the state to tell me that I’m married. I know that we have a home together, a life together, and it’s just fine the way it is. Neither of us are going anywhere.” Interesting perspective for someone who has been in a relationship for many years. But something changed; something evolved. And through my conversations with Walt, he started the Human Rights Club at the high school, has become more open about answering students’ questions, and has realized, he needs to be married to Eric. They say it’s because of me. I say it’s because they are two people who love each other unconditionally with eternal commitment. Both musicians, we went in the piano room and Eric played piano as Walter sang “their” song. Tears. Heck, I’m getting teary-eyed now and this moment was two and a half months ago. I was a mess – but not sad tears – happy tears! Another realization of what “marriage” means to some people, but what a relationship truly is.
When marriage passed in NY two weeks later, Walter texted me, “Thank you. We’re getting married December 31.” More tears.