by Annie Moyer ’97
I recently married my partner of five years, Renée Coronado Martinez, at a courthouse in Brooklyn, New York. Four months earlier we held a formal ceremony in Renée’s home state of Califor-nia. Our one witness at the courthouse was Emily Brooks, a friend since my freshman year at Milton. It was only fitting that Emily would stand there with us in the courthouse, and that so many of my Milton friends would celebrate with us at the wedding this past summer.
I cherish the experience I had at Milton; however, my memories of the school are complex. For me, Milton was a place of deep traditions. Most of these traditions I hold dear, but not all of them. During my time at Milton, the mid-’90s, there was a prevailing and limiting notion of what is normal in relationships. Yet, my Milton friends were the ones who helped me when the cultural expectations I learned in high school and throughout my life began to run counter to who I wanted and needed to become.
I was 25 years old when I began to come to terms truly with being gay. The coming-out process was harrowing. What I’d learned from society, from schools, from family and from peers about what it means to be gay was mostly negative. In some cases these messages were painfully explicit, but in most cases they were passed on without thought or intention. I had to face the deep sense of shame I had developed growing up. I had to break it down and let it go. That process could have been extremely lonely, and at times, it was. Mostly, however, I have experienced my growth within a community of loyal family and friends that love and care for me. For that I am lucky and eternally grateful.
My classmates from Milton, in particular, took on my struggle as if it were their own. Years ago, as we sat on the floor in the San Juan airport after a sailing trip with her family, Emily Brooks told me that she would never forgive me if I lived my life for other people and not for myself. Jared Miller talked with me for hours on the phone as I struggled to come to terms with myself and create new expectations for my life. Lauren Wahtera Czapla comforted me when I was threatened on the train after holding Renée’s hand on the way home from work. Heather McGhee reminded me relentlessly to operate from a place of joy and not fear. The list goes on and on.
While my experience of being gay is unique among my friends from Milton, the struggle, and ultimately the great freedom, in living an authentic life is certainly not. Over time I’ve tried to offer my friends the same support, the same challenging questions, and the same deep respect that they have given me. I value the fact that the bonds we developed at Milton, and the best of what we were taught at Milton, have years later allowed for such deep friendship. I’ve learned through experience that as we all grow up, and as our identities continue to evolve, this kind of relationship is one of life’s most precious gifts.
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