This story was initially created as part of the Marriage Equality Movement Family Story Quilt which premiered at San Francisco City Hall on National Freedom to Marry Day in February 2007, honoring the historic Winter of Love and the 40th anniversary of the 1967 U.S. Supreme Court Loving vs. Virginia decision. These family stories -- created in 2007 -- now have many updates, babies have been born, many couples have gotten legally married in California in 2008, some have divorced, some have won historic union battles and so much more ... stay tuned for updates!
Mauricio & Ryan, Anita & Lydia
- Anita G. Perez & Lydia Aguilar have been together 12 years, have two children (Moe & Gabby) and reside in Modesto, California.
- Mauricio J. Perez & Ryan James have been together 8 years and reside in Oakland, California.
In our large Catholic family of nine, we were taught to believe many things but the most important thing that always took priority was family. "Friends will come and go", our mother used to say, "Family is forever." No matter what you did in life, where you traveled, or what kind of career you had -- nothing ever mattered more than the family you loved.
This was always made clear in our Mexican Wedding Ceremonies, where marriage was celebrated with much extravagance that we all remember well. For it is a day of new beginnings. It is a day to celebrate a new addition to the family. It is a day no one misses. You might be excused for skipping out on a Christmas gathering once an awhile, but no one in our family ever missed a wedding celebration.
Over the years, we've come to appreciate the magic that family can do. We have the fondest memories of our older sisters bringing their future husband home to meet us all, when they would quarrel amongst themselves over what to wear on their dates, and when our mother made them take their younger siblings out on those dates as chaperones. We watched as our mother cradled one sister who was weeping because the man she loved had not called her in a month. Our mother assured her that everything would work out for her, and it did.
However, in our family, three of us were born gay. As we grew up and realized that we were different we understood that no matter what we did, we might never have a life like our other siblings. Our oldest brother, Mike, endured the hardship of being the first to come out. We watched him hide, explain and defend who he was to friends and family all his life. We saw the knowing looks on many faces when people spoke of him.
People talked about Mike with shame when it came to his personal relationships as though they somehow weren't worthy of recognition. As far as we can recall, no one had ever spoke this way about our married siblings, for those relationships were sacred. We have all witnessed first hand what discrimination can do to one's health and spirit. Mike was the unfortunate victim of an unforgiving era which eventually led to his premature death in 2004. He died a bachelor, because he had to.
We all know what a wonderful place the world could be when there is someone in your life to share it with. Three of our sisters had large white weddings where everyone was invited, even the Mayor of our small town. We, too, want all that in our lives. We want the acceptance of having our relationships recognized with both dignity and respect. There can never be too much love in this world. Like everyone who has ever fallen in love, LGBT people want to have their relationships recognized by their families and friends. Only Marriage Equality can do that. Only Marriage Equality can bring all families together.
The exhibit has toured extensively and is now part of an ongoing exhibit called THE LOVING QUILT 2010: A People's Living History - and Herstory - of Marriage Equality & Family Justice Movements
A Project of Marriage Equality USA in collaboration with NUMEROUS creative individuals & community, state and national organizations.
Maya Scott-Chung, MPH is the Creative Director and Curator of THE LOVING QUILT 2010 which was created during 2006-2010 as part of Maya's Masters in Public Health/ Community Health Education Thesis at San Francisco State University.
For exhibit booking and further information contact Maya: firstname.lastname@example.org (510) 381-0876
THE LOVING QUILT Webpage: www.marriageequality.org/quilt