One of the most important hours in my life was on a summer day in 1955 when I answered a help-wanted ad in the local newspaper. The call and the man on the other end of the phone changed my life forever.
Romance consumed my eighteenth year of life. Putting education on a back burner, marriage and having a family were my new goals. I had no job, no job skills and no idea what I was I going to do. Being physically challenged, I could barely walk. Who would hire me and give me a chance to live a “normal” life?
The first thing I did was check the help wanted pages in the newspaper. After the first hour of calling would-be employers, “no” seemed to be the word for the day. Then I read the ad for an experienced nighttime billing clerk at NY & NB Auto Express. I didn’t know what a billing clerk did but something told me to dial the number anyway. A man answered the phone and asked me what experience I had. I told him what my situation was and that I was just looking for a job. He laughed and said he did need a filing clerk and asked if I could do the work. “Of course,” I replied. “I can do anything if I’m given a chance. And if I can’t, Ill be the first one to tell you.” He said if I was there at five that afternoon, I had a job. WOW!! I couldn’t believe it. Neither did my father. He told me not to get too excited and hope for the best.
The freight office was noisy. Dispatchers, truck drivers and dock workers all seemed to have their own work agenda except for one man. He sat quietly in a chair and staring at me he said, “You must be David, I’m Joe Thac.” We went to his office and after the interview, I was hired.
Joe Thac was a 40-year-old gay man and he was proud of it. The macho men on the dock called him “the prince.” He didn’t care. He did his job, earned his pay and enjoyed an extravagant private life of his own. He was an intelligent, sensitive, creative, kind, honest and compassionate man. We became good friends. Joe gave me a chance to learn job skills in the transportation business that allowed me to earn a good living, support a family and have that “normal” life I dreamed about.
After President Obama announced his support of same-sex marriage the “straight” world of Republicans and a slim majority of black folks jumped from their pulpits of political theocracy to the news media with their god’s version of marriage. You know — incest within god’s original family of Adam and Eve is acceptable to propagate the human race but same-sex marriage doesn’t fit within the paradigms of god’s purpose because no offspring of god’s creation will result from it.
The black community is showing its real hypocritical color on this issue. For more than 200 years they have suffered from discrimination because of their skin color and their minority standing in society. They cried out for freedom, justice, liberty, tolerance and the opportunity to be treated equally. Dr. Martin Luther King had a dream for social justice. He prayed for all people of color and persuasion to come together and live like brothers and sisters in their pursuit of happiness. Now his people are free and they want to bind the minority of gays and lesbian to their own discriminatory, intolerant Christian moral values denying them their collective and individual pursuit of happiness. What kind of personal and social freedom for a minority population is that?
In all the years I knew Joe Thac, he never crossed the line of sexual innuendo. While most married men at work went to bars, chased the hookers on the streets and gambled their paychecks playing poker, Joe was faithful to his live-in friend of 15 years, Earl. Today, they would want to fulfill their dream of marrying each other. What a fitting milestone for the gay man who fulfilled my dreams and changed my life.
David Farside is a Sparks resident and political activist. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.