By: Joseph Uva Enoch
Today has been an emotional day for me. I see Red fly high on Facebook with updates on Marriage Equality being heard at the Supreme Court. I’ve had co-workers come up and ask me about my feelings, while seeing pictures around my desk of my partner and our daughter. Trevor making an Equality picture with us and our daughter on it, our small but beautiful family. A tough fight comes with great reward. I have faith that history will prove equality matters. Our daughter sees the love of her parents and some day she will read how that path for so many was not easy, but she will never doubt our love for each other.
To our family and friends who have stood by my side, our side, accepted our family and did so while many others dismiss us as something different, bad, or wrong….. I say thank you from the deepest part of my heart. You all have become our rock, the place we can rest, knowing that our love and family are important, beautifully accepted with love and respect.
The fight for Love is never wasted, it will always win!
By: Joey Uva Enoch
As a young boy I knew I was different but never really knew how or why. I remember in the 4th grade there was a boy named Steve in my class; he was much tougher than I was and walked me home every single day of that school year. Still today, I don’t know if he walked me home to protect me because he knew I was different or if he felt different too and found unity in our daily walk.
It took me 27 years to come out as a gay man. I had a teenaged girlfriend and even got married at the age of 23. Would my life have been easier if I came out earlier on? This is a question I really can’t answer. Today, at the age of 46, these are the happiest days of my life. I have a partner of six years and someday soon, will be able to say we are married. I have a daughter who is seven years old –around the same age that I was when I began to question why I felt different. My coming out as a gay man has allowed me to express the true me, create the family I have always wanted, and find the peace and joy that my seven-year-old self was always looking for.
Last night, I went with Trevor and our good friends Billy and Albert to the “Born This Way” book launch event. The book is a spin off from Paul Vitagliano’s Born This Way Blog site – BornThisWayBlog.com, which has received national and worldwide attention. It’s a powerful and honest look at LBGTQ adults from their childhood experience. Paul V.’s creation of his blog and now the book are an inspiration that serves as a vehicle of awareness and understanding for our current generation of parents and children, so that they may thrive and become their true self and find a voice.
To purchase the Born This Way Book you can go to:
October 11, 2012 is National Coming Out Day – HRC National Coming Out Day Be proud of who you are, celebrate yourself, and find your voice.
By: Joey Uva Enoch
I had a lot of time this past weekend to think. I thought a lot about family, my family, the family that Trevor and I have.
Trevor’s dad and step-mother have a weekend every year for their grandchildren called “Cousin Camp.” There are no parents allowed at Cousin Camp, only the cousins and grandparents. Grace and I headed up the central coast of California to San Luis Obispo on Friday after work so she could attend the event. If you’re from California at all, you know what kind of nightmare the freeways can be -to anywhere- on a Friday after work. As Grace and I drove, I could see she was very excited. I have talked with her a few times about Cousin Camp and the fact that I would not be with her Saturday due to the strict “No Parents” policy!
Much to my surprise, the traffic wasn’t bad. About two hours into the drive I told Grace we should probably stop and get some dinner. Grace replied back with, “Can we just keep driving? I can eat when I get to Nana & Papa’s house. I want to see my cousins!” We kept driving and made it there sixty five minutes later, arriving around 7:40pm. Grace was the last cousin to arrive.
Trevor’s parents had many plans for that Saturday. The kids got to see a magician that came to the house, go on a train ride, have a picnic, enjoy the hot tub, go kayaking, watch movies, and eat picnic-style dinners. I can’t pretend to know all that the cousins did because of course, I was not invited.
While Grace was having her Cousin Camp time, I spent my time in Cambria. Trevor had to work all weekend so he stayed home and took care of the dogs. I truly love Cambria, nestled on the central coast, a quite place with many artists and a very laid back feel.
On Saturday evening, I went down to the boardwalk and watched the sunset. As I sat there in all the beauty and peace of the moment, I thought about family, what that means and how this generation is experiencing and encompassing a much different meaning than our grandparents or their grandparents did. I thought about all the kids at “Cousin Camp.” They are cousins through brothers, sisters, step-parents, and friends who have become family. All of the children know Trevor’s parents as their grandma and grandpa; they know all of the parents of the other kids as their aunts and uncles. These children are growing up in love, with love, blood relation or not. It made me think of us adults who sometimes have a hard time and let titles get in the way. Sometimes I wish all adults thought like that of a four-, five-, or six-year-old: that we are family because we love each other, because our heart lets us be.
When I picked up Grace on Sunday around lunch time, I sat at the dining room table and listened as some of the cousins shared their joy of seeing the magician, the train ride, and all that they got to experience. As I got Grace’s stuff together and packed the car, Leslie (Nana) came out with Grace’s cousin Mallory. We were about to leave when Mallory, who is about half as tall as Grace, came up to the car with her head just at window height to give Grace a kiss goodbye. My heart melted. As we drove off, Grace said, “She was so small last time I saw her and now she is a bigger girl and speaks so well. I love her!” There in front of me, a three-year-old and seven-year-old, showing me the true meaning of family.
By: Joey Uva Enoch
This past weekend Trevor and I drove up to the central coast of California to take a tour of a possible wedding venue for a 2013 ceremony. On the drive up, I turned to Trevor and asked; “What are your feelings on why it is so important for us to get married?” We have talked plenty on marriage but I have never asked him that specific question. His response was very to the point; “It solidifies our relationship and our family” I have been asking myself the same question. Here are my beliefs and why I think marriage is so important for me:
Our relationship is valid. Our relationship is just as important as any other American or person on this great planet of ours.
Our dedication. We are dedicated to sharing our life together. We strive for greatness together.
Unity and love. Our love is not defined by the beliefs of others. It’s defined by our spirits, two souls that have come together in a place of unity and love.
Security. I want to know that there is security. That our family will not be divided because society has forced it to be. Our marriage would hold our family together in times of crisis.
True freedom. Not only ours but our daughters. She deserves to know freedom. True freedom, not freedom that comes with the limitations that one group places on another. I truly believe she will see this in her lifetime but I’d really like her to see it in our family. I want her to know that her family is just as important as any other. That our family is not less than.
Let God be the judge. I believe in God, in a higher power. My definition is based on my own beliefs. I will be ready for God’s judgment at the end of this life for my acts and the impact I’ve made on others. Let God cast the first stone on me if my love and marriage were not truly right with him in the end. The stones you throw are heavy and they will weigh you down into darkness.
Don’t compare, know your own strength. I have heard a lot of things like, “this celebrity got married and it failed in 72 hours.” Or, “this person has been married 4 times, so why can’t gays and lesbians get married?” For me, that is not a valid argument. Every person on this planet makes mistakes and has lessons to learn. I think for me it’s looking at what marriage means for my own relationship and family that matters most. The failures of others should never be compared to who I am. I know the strength of my relationship and family.
Be the change. Why can’t I be part of the change? I know that my relationship is strong and deserves the opportunity to stand the test of time. Why can’t I be the one who is able to stick it out in marriage through the good times and the hard times? I want to be able to stand in those last days with Trevor and say, “Look! We made it! You have been the best husband in the world and my love for you is never ending!”
Love is enough. Why can’t love be enough? Why can’t two people who truly love each other be enough for others to understand why we want to dedicate our lives to each other? Why must so many people be focused on their own beliefs that they force them on others and judge from such a dark place? Our love is enough!
Trevor and I have been talking about getting married for a while now. Whether it’s legal or not when our time comes we know that our relationship is strong, that our family is important, that we are dedicated to one another and that our love is enough.
By: Joey Uva Enoch
Trevor and I have been talking about getting another dog for awhile now. We have our faithful and obedient dog Rex who is now 13 years old. He’s a rescue dog that Trevor saved when he was just a puppy. The years have caught up with Rex; he’s got a heart murmur, arthritis, and now he’s been getting fluid in his lungs which makes him cough a lot. We took Rex to the vet and they prescribed some medication for the fluid in his lungs and to help the coughing. The vet let us know that with the mediation Rex would probably live one more year, maybe two if we are really lucky. We have been completely open about all this with Grace, we thought it best to let her know how Rex is feeling and to help her understand that he may not be around much longer.
In talking about getting a new dog, we discussed if Rex could handle it, not knowing if it would stress him out or give him some company in his last days. At the beginning of summer our friend Chris got a new puppy, a Chihuahua/Terrier mix, Frankie. She’s adorable. Chris let us know that the owners of the puppies had another puppy that looked much like Frankie. I called the owner and made plans for us to see the other female puppy. That weekend we told Grace that we were going to look at a puppy on Sunday morning to see if we wanted another dog. She was immediately excited and asked a million questions. A word of advice: if you take a seven-year-old to see a puppy that you might want, there is no “might” to it. You’ll be going home with a puppy.
On Sunday, we arrived at the puppy owner’s house and she brought the female puppy to the front yard. This little caramel brown tail-wagging puppy was adorable -her tail wagged so hard it moved the whole half end of her body back and forth. Grace simply said; “Oh Papa! She’s a perfect puppy!” I guess the Grace inspection passed; next up was Rex. We brought Rex out of the car to have him meet Puppy, he was not very interested, although the little perfect caramel wagging puppy was very interested in Rex, with more tail wags and numerous licking attempts. We decided to take her. Just as we made our decision, the owner said; “She has one brother left, he’s more black than brown and smaller, a little bit the runt of the bunch. I’ll give you a really good deal if you take them both so he doesn’t have to be left alone by himself.” We asked her to bring out the brother. At first glance, he was smaller than his sister with a difference in the characteristics. I looked up at Trevor; “Should we?” Trevor replied with; “I’ll leave the final decision up to you babe!” Grace just couldn’t hold back, “Please Papa!!! I can help take care of them!” We took two new puppies home. On the car ride back we named them. We now had two new members of our family, Duke and Ruby.
Rex has become more relaxed with the puppies. Ruby is extremely fond of Rex and tries to give him puppy kisses, he has finally gotten to the point where he will stand still, allow a few licks and then walk away. Duke is the lover of the two, we hadn’t even planned on getting him but now we are so happy we did. Duke is able to handle Ruby’s hyper personality for some play time and Ruby will hopefully learn to be a little calmer from Duke’s softer loveable side. Still, for Rex, one thing is off limits: his food bowl. Ruby tends to challenge him on that, one little growl from Rex and she knows better, I guess she just can’t help herself.
So here we are with Rex, who has been by our side faithfully throughout the years, and now Duke and Ruby, the two newest members of our family.
By: Joey Uva Enoch
Well it has been a couple of months since I’ve posted. Today, I find I have a free Saturday with absolutely nothing planned. Well, I do have to pick up my dry cleaning and attend an anniversary party this evening but that’s a breeze.
Where have I been for two months? Working on our home and embracing change.
Trevor and I have been city dwellers for many years. It was easy to walk up the street have breakfast, meet friends for a drink, shop at a specialty store, or catch some art event in a moment’s notice. Now we live in the “Valley”, the San Fernando Valley to be exact. Summer in the Valley is hotter than in the city, by fifteen or twenty degrees. We knew that if we moved to the Valley, we had to have a pool. We knew that it might take some getting used to, the transition from our urban life to becoming new homeowners in a quiet neighborhood.
After we moved in and got the inside of the house situated, we tackled the patio area. We created an outdoor lounge and dining area. We have not eaten a single meal at our dining room table since. Eating breakfast or dinner outside has become one of my favorite things about our house. I love being outside, hearing birds chirp, watching the hummingbirds come up to the feeder and hearing Trevor’s grandmother’s vintage wind chime that he restored just for the house. Sometimes when the chime rings, we look over and say “Hi Grandma!”
Next up was the landscaping; there was a lot to be done. We got a couple bids but after I saw how expensive it was, one bid being $8K, I decided I would do it myself. It was off to Lowe’s for a lawn mower and garden tools, things you don’t need when you live in an apartment in the middle of the city. I have never landscaped before but Trevor and I have the same taste. We wanted it drought tolerant and desert inspired. After all, with the Valley being so hot, it was the best possible landscaping solution. I have spent over ten weeks landscaping, six to twelve hours on some weekends and on weekdays after work until about 9pm. It has been exhausting but the sense of accomplishment is great. I actually love working in the yard, something I never thought of when I lived in the city. I find it very meditative. I don’t think about anything, my mind is clear, and I am completely focused on the now of what I am doing.
I’ve been with the same company for almost nineteen years and commuted 38 miles one way every day. Living in the valley reduced my drive to 15 minutes. I love it. The downside was that Trevor had to commute to the Beverly Center where he manages a store. But moving here is exactly what we were meant to do because a couple weeks ago Trevor walked in from work and told me his district manager offered him the Calabasas store to manage. Now he doesn’t even need to get on the freeway.
We have had a few gatherings since our move in. We had a Father’s Day celebration with our family, Trevor’s Birthday Party, a 4th of July Pool Party BBQ for friends, and a pool/ bbq day for Grace and friends. It’s so nice to have a home where we can have family and friends come and enjoy it with us.
Grace spent almost three weeks at the beginning of summer in South Africa with her mother visiting her grandmother and relatives there. When she returned from vacation and I picked her up, she said in the car, “Papa, I missed my room and my new bed. It is the most relaxing place to sleep.” I am so glad she feels comfortable and at ease in her new home too.
We got two new puppies, Duke and Ruby. They are a Chihuahua and Terrier mix. They’re about fourteen weeks old and as adorable as can be. And of course, Grace loves them.
This coming Monday I start a new position with my company, a whole new role in a whole new division. More change.
My life has been all about change this year. I feel like my life is on a new path. I am a lucky man. I have an amazing partner, a wonderful daughter, a supportive family, and great friends. They are all taking this journey with me and I am blessed.
By: Joey Uva Enoch
I am finding as I get older that my life has become more complete. I am finding that those very difficult parts of my life that have brought me to where I am now have come with very valuable lessons.
One of the more difficult parts of my childhood was when my mother left when I was seven years old. I spent many years dealing with the emotions and hurt from that time. I wrote about that story almost two years ago and although it was very emotional to put to “paper”, it was very cathartic as well. Not that I didn’t work on it earlier in my life, because that was one thing I promised myself when I was a young adult in order that I could create the life I wanted. I spent a couple years in therapy working on myself and healing myself from the past.
One of the things I never planned on, like many things in life, was having Trevor become part of it. We have been together six years. We come from very different childhood upbringings. We have pushed each other both consciously and unconsciously to be closer to our families. Trevor has always pushed us to become closer to my mother and make more of an effort to find a better place in the here and now to grow from. Trevor knows my childhood story, he knows the past and realizes that it should remain there. I think the death of Trevor’s mom over ten years ago gives him the fight and drive to make this happen. I love him for that.
Something I did promise myself was that Grace would know her grandmother. I promised myself that I would look beyond the past in order that Grace could have that. I can honestly say this has not always been easy for me. I have had to remind myself many a time that Grace deserves her Grandmother; it’s not about me or my past relationship with my mother.
This past weekend we had planned a visit with my mom where she would come out on Friday night and stay the night with us. This would be her first time seeing our new house and staying the night with us here. Trevor drove out to pick up my mom after work; she doesn’t drive. I let Grace stay up a little later than normal so that her grandmother could see her and say goodnight before bed. Grace was excited and asked me several times how long it would be before Trevor would be home with Grandma.
On Saturday morning I got up early, made some coffee, and started cleaning the pool as my mom and Grace both slept in. My mom and Grace both woke up about this same time, Grace much later than normal for a Saturday. My mom grabbed a cup of coffee and sat outside on the patio with Grace. I was just finishing the pool and went in and made some breakfast. We all enjoyed a nice peaceful Saturday morning breakfast together outside. At lunch time we went out to grab a sandwich and headed to our local nursery to buy some plants and flowers for the yard. We drove my mom home early Saturday evening.
On Sunday, I was the first one up as normal. The house was quiet and I found myself missing my mom, wishing she was still here. I began to tear up. I have come to realize that in wanting something better for my daughter I have also created a better place in my heart for my mom, a place of real love.
By: Joey Uva Enoch
This past Sunday, May 6, 2012, LGBTQ families around the world celebrated the first annual International Family Equality Day. The day of celebrations officially started off in Helsinki, Finland ending with the closing celebration in Los Angeles, California.
In celebration of the day, the Southern California Pop Luck Club held an International Family Equality Day Picnic for its members and other LGBTQ families at Lake Hollywood Park. Trevor and I attended with Grace to celebrate with the other members and families that came out. It was a beautiful afternoon and really great to see all the parents there with their children to celebrate the day. It was also nice to see those who had friends or extended family come with them in support; those individuals do a lot to help us make our voices heard.
Hopefully this yearly event will grow both globally and nationally in order to bring more visibility to the growing numbers of LGBTQ families and help pave the way for greater social acceptance and equality for all families. Our families and our children deserve that.
Video by: John Ireland, Pop Luck Club Member
How May 6th became International Family Equality Day:
In July 2011, LGBTQ family activists from around the world gathered for the first ever International Symposium of LGBTQ parenting organizations. The symposium provided an opportunity to establish ongoing international cooperation in areas such as research, visibility and advocacy, and the development of resources and programs for LGBTQ families worldwide. One of the key outcomes was the establishment of the first International Family Equality Day to take place on Sunday, May 6, 2012.
To read more and to see which countries participated in this global event you can visit - International Family Equality Day
By: Joey Uva Enoch
Our new house has a pool. And, not just a pool, a pretty large pool with tiles that look like swim lanes and a diving board. We weren’t sure how deep the pool was at the diving board end or what the legal requirements were back when it was built. I took a tape measure and crawled to the end of the diving board to measure. The pool is 8 ½ feet deep at the deep end and about 3 feet at the shallow end.
I never had a pool as a kid. My brothers and I would frequent the local High School pool in the summer time if we wanted to go swimming. It was free to the local kids in the neighborhood.
Grace is all about the new pool; she loves the water and loves to swim. This past weekend she was in the pool on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. On Friday, when we got home, she immediately wanted to go swimming. I had partially finished mowing the front lawn for the first time and I told her I needed to finish that before we could go swimming. I mowed the lawn and she swept the sidewalk. She was very happy to help knowing that some pool time was right after.
I got up early on Saturday morning to clean the pool as Trevor and Grace both remained sleeping. I had promised Grace a pool day, and it was going to be a perfect swimming day with temperatures in the 90’s. We also had a couple friends coming over to see the house and enjoy a couple hours by the pool. Our friend Cary took his first dip in the pool by jumping off the diving board. He reminisced about his childhood, spending entire summer days in his home pool until his eyes were red, being completely exhausted and going to bed without a shower because he was so water logged. I loved hearing that story. It’s funny because I thought about how so many of my friends have come from very different backgrounds but yet here we are able to share and enjoy our lives together. It also made me wonder what memories Grace will have of this time and the days ahead. One thing I know we will all remember is, while we were swimming on Saturday we had a pretty large Mallard Duck decide that he needed a break from flight and landed right in the pool. Our mouths were all open in shock and before we could snap a picutre, our dog Rex headed straight for the him and he flew off into the sky.
I think I am as fascinated with the pool as Grace is, I think for some of the same reasons and some different. Grace wants me in the water with her, she wants to dive together, swim from one end to the other, and go underwater in the deep end. I love having this quality time with her. I love that Trevor and I get to share this experience. I love that our friends and family will get to share in pool fun times with us as well.
I feel like a big kid with a new toy and I want to share it!
By: Joey Uva Enoch
I feel like I am beginning the third quarter of my life. I moved from Oklahoma to California exactly 25 years ago. I moved from the center of Los Angeles with the hustle and bustle of it all to the West Valley on my twenty-fifth anniversary in California, on the very same weekend that I first moved to California.
I feel my life is becoming much more peaceful. I’m not sure if it’s the more mature me, the more spiritual me, or simply something that happens as you age and grow into a more rounded individual.
I am finding that some of the things in life that I found so important when I was younger simply aren’t anymore. I am finding the things I took for granted when I was younger are now becoming more important to me.
I am finding it easier to let the opinions of others be exactly that, their opinion. But, I also find myself putting on their shoes to try and understand why they might think or feel they way they do.
I have become much more comfortable in my own skin. I find myself more interested in the differences in people and find myself driven to understand them.
I am finding it easier to let those little things that are not so important fall by the wayside and just let life be. I am becoming more patient. I am finding it easier to let life happen, to focus on the things I can control and let the universe take care of the things I have no control over.
I feel I am entering the best days of my life. I am only four years from fifty and find myself becoming more at peace with life and who I am -the third quarter. I wouldn’t change anything that I have been through as it has all brought me to today.