Shephard Summers



HeartBalloons5 years ago, I married my partner of then 21 years.
(there are photos on this site, if you’re clever enough to find them)
It was the most amazing day …I never thought I’d have.

We met the first day of college, 1986.
We became very close friends very quickly.
I fell head over heels in love with him first.
He was a little freaked out, tho.  Just a little. lol
I mean, it was the 80’s, but still.

He went home for Christmas break …
and when he came back, he said he was ready to be with me.
I didn’t know what that would mean.  You tend to live in the moment when you finally hear someone say those things to you. Little did we know, we’d be facing a world of challenges.

One thing helped more than anything else.

We read a funny little book.
Short chapters, cartoony little illustrations.
It’s called *Love is Letting Go of Fear* (link in pink)
by Gerald  Jampolsky. 

It stripped away all the garbage around us.
It allowed us to see ourselves as good and valuable people.
It didn’t bother to make any excuses or elaborate explanations for how we felt.
Love is love. The little book gave us strength to outlast.

Our friends in college all freaked out.
They knew I was gay, but they didn’t know Byron was gay.
Being gay was a bad thing then, and so they thought I must have done something awful to convert him.

We outlasted them.

Well-meaning adults told us we were only 18 & 22, so we were doomed!
They were wrong. We outlasted them.

I was told that he would break my heart. That he wouldn’t have the courage.
They were wrong. He’s one of the bravest guys I know.  We outlasted.

For nine years, his mother did her level best to create trouble and break us up.
We outlasted her.  She eventually got help from PFLAG
( *PFLAG* –Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays – link in pink)


How did I end up with this amazing, classically handsome, kind-hearted, hilarious, genuine, sweet, animal-loving, talented and devoted husband?  

I was not traditionally handsome or cute.
(My husband disagrees with that. He says I’m cute…. love is blind)
If I’m being brutally honest, I fall way short of the gay community’s values and ideals.
We outlasted them too!  
Because we created our own values, our own definitions, and we kept it simple.

Love is love.  

I am proof that you can find love, in spite of any flaws you think you see in yourself. The person who truly loves you, will not see those details as flaws.  Your biggest hurdle is not what you see in the mirror. 

Maybe you won’t meet someone at age 18 and fall in love and stay together for 26+ years.  Maybe you will!  Maybe you’ll meet several someones who love you. You’ll get your heart broken. You’ll grow. You’ll learn about each other.  You’ll find a life that will surprise you.  A life nothing like High School.

Your path will be different from mine, uniquely yours, but you will find people who love you for who you are. 

To find love, you will have to take better care of yourself.
Be good to your own heart. And be extra careful who you listen to.
And be yourself.  You don’t want someone falling for who you’re pretending to be. That won’t last. 

A friend of mine said something to me this week.  It was so simple.
Yet it cut through all the opinions of others I had been holding onto.
We were talking about what others project onto me about being gay, and she said:

“They’re not gay. Why would you listen to them?”

Of course!  Why would I think someone who isn’t gay is an authority on anything gay?
On whether or not I should be afraid to hold hands in public with my husband.  On how to be a gay couple. On whether or not I should write what I write, believe what I believe. And yet I catch myself doing this all the time.

We get to decide if what others say to us is right or wrong for us.
And we don’t need anyone’s permission to be who we are.

We outlast.

We find love. 


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