I watched as a stranger placed a hand on my partner's shoulder, looked her in the eye and said "Thank you."
The woman moved from my partner and came to me. She took my hand and said, very emotionally, "Thank you. Because of what you do, you make it easier for my daughter and her partner." She hugged me, kissed my cheek and just as quickly, walked away.
I was stunned. Aghast. Floored. It takes a lot to get me speechless. But I was. Tears welled up in my eyes. The woman walked away before either of us could say a word.
All we had done was dance.
I just took my wife's hand, and walked to the front of the room where we came together and danced.
I have to admit, I was scared to do it. I was in a room full of strangers who were also team mates. Colleagues. Strangers, none the less. They all did the same thing we did. We were all there to train for the same purpose. This dance, this party, was to have fun after several days of learning and training together. But they were strangers. And this wasn't my home turf.
I worried, walking through the small sea of people, stepping into the middle of them, wrapping my arms around my partner and pulling each other close. I worried someone might say something. Worse, I worried someone might do something.
But I did it again. The next song came along, and we danced together again. These songs held meaning for us. This was the first time we had ever danced publicly together. I worried I had made the wrong choice in asking my partner to dance. Even walking into the bathroom, I worried that I was setting myself up to be a newspaper article about the latest gay bashing. This was a large group of the unknown, with very, very few that I knew, and even less that my partner knew. Was I making a mistake? Was I pushing something too far?
I did it again. I was feeling my fear mount. On the dance floor, my partner stared into my eyes and ever so strongly, if silently, quieted my fear. Even for all the fear, I wanted to dance with my wife. The need, the desire, the longing outweighed that fear. I argued with myself that I have the right to dance with her, just like everyone else in the room could dance with whomever they choose.
Sitting down after the third dance, I voiced my fear. The trepidation that I was feeling. The little part of me that was watching the shadows, watching around corners, afraid that we were in danger. My partner voiced the same feeling and we held hands, and kissed.
Moments later, the woman came to us and thanked us. All of my fear melted away.
After I picked my jaw up off the floor and collected myself, I walked to the bathroom. To my surprise, she was there. I met her eyes and thanked HER for saying what she said. She said she meant it. What we did will make it that much easier for her daughter and her partner. Please don't stop. It makes a difference.