Lessons we can learn from 60 years of love and commitment between a gay couple

Eric Marcoux, left, and Eugene Woodworth, photographed in Chicago in 1955 by photographer Jo Banks, have been a couple for almost 60 years.

Eric Marcoux, left, and Eugene Woodworth, photographed in Chicago in 1955 by photographer Jo Banks, have been a couple for almost 60 years.

“You know, we all have closets to come out of. They’re all different, but you have to find out what your closet is and come out. Before that, you’re not a whole person.”

Eric Marcoux and Eugene Woodworth were interviewed by The Oregon and shared some deep, good, and true insights about the beauty of love and commitment that transcends romantic love for another. Woodworth shares something that touched this writer personally as well. Maybe we all deserve a little more love for ourselves by stripping off each protective layer we have put up to look invincible to the rest of the world. I believe we all flounder on being vulnerable to ourselves, because we each are our own greatest critics. Then we get stuck in the gutter of our own fantasy of misery and never have the chance to share who we really are to other people.

 

Q: What’s the biggest lesson about love and partnership you’ve learned along the way?

Woodworth: It never lets up.

Marcoux: To be more gentle toward my own vulnerabilities and to his inadequacies, because they disappoint him as well as me. Oh, that didn’t make any sense at all.

Woodworth: You never were worried about disappointing me.

Marcoux: Oh, God, I’m going to leave him right now. May I get a ride?

Woodworth: Yeah, teasing is part of it.

still together

Eric Marcoux, right, and Eugene Woodworth still together in 2013

Marcoux: It’s worth the effort. In the form of Buddhism we practice there’s a real emphasis on what we call Buddha nature. It refers to our innate goodness. There’s wisdom and compassion there, and we can be utterly cruel because we haven’t learned to recognize it. When you really get that you have Buddha nature in yourself and so do others, when we begin to get a kind of radical respect for the other person’s strengths and weaknesses, and our own, we can afford to be loving and friendly toward them.

Woodworth: Tied to that is a continual coming out to each other. Whatever it is that we suddenly discover in ourselves, we share. And just coming out basically as a gay person. It is something that builds respect and friendship with other people outside our circle. Even people who aren’t allies at the moment become allies because of our honesty. You know, we all have closets to come out of. They’re all different, but you have to find out what your closet is and come out. Before that, you’re not a whole person. You really aren’t.

Marcoux: Sharing our vulnerabilities and being willing to be vulnerable, when it’s not going to get you shot or beat up right on the spot. Once you get to doing that, it can become a demanding habit but a really good habit. It’s incredible and liberating.

Woodworth: When we come out of our own closest, other people do too.

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