I moved to the US 31 years ago today to live with Kelley. We were in a tiny apartment in Duluth, Georgia—in Gwinnett County, a very red county in a very red state. I had no money, no job, no health insurance, and I was sick. We were very isolated: twenty miles from Atlanta with no public transport, not even any sidewalks. But we had what we needed: heat, light, food, and each other. In many ways it felt like living today in the middle of this pandemic. I haven’t been to a restaurant for nearly 10 months. I haven’t had a hug from anyone but Kelley—and the kitties—for almost as long. We don’t have much in the way of accessible public transport out here and there are no sidewalks.

But, oh, so much else is different. We have enough money for the things we need. We have friends and family out there just waiting, like us, for the time when we can throw away our masks, hold out our arms, and hug and laugh and eat together once again. Meanwhile, we have a whole house that’s ours (and, y’know, the bank’s), a car each, two fuzzy kitties, plenty of delicious food, even better drinks, all the TV and books we could possibly need and, of course, each other.

We had to fight hard to be together—at the time it was illegal for queers, communists, and HIV+ people to even enter the US, never mind stay for any length of time. I refused to pretend to be anything but queer, so my immigration case took four years, cost more than $20,000, and made new law. After that mammoth stress the pandemic feels easy; there is nothing, absolutely nothing that could rock our foundations. Kelley is the heart of my life, the axis around which everything else revolves. 

Here’s a photo of her I took in her office last month. It’s not carefully posed, the light’s all in the wrong place, and, even so, she’s more herself and so more beautiful now than she was when we met. The best person in the universe to be locked down with. I am profoundly grateful every single day.

Photo of a white woman with blue-tinted blonde hair down to her shoulders, wearing glasses and wearing black, sitting in front of a bookcase

Kelley at 60