Time to Smile

BY Jeffrey Hartinger

July 06 2011 5:58 PM ET

Mark Morris One x390 (courtesy) | Advocate.com"There was definitely a lot of abuse on the street,” Morris said. “One time, I was forced to perform oral sex. I was beat up and had my clothes ripped from me. I was not in a good place, but through it all I knew that things would get better. Someday, it would all be over."
 
After a year in Florida, Morris went home and returned to his high school, where he was tormented for being gay. His family did not accept him at the time, and like many LGBT youth of today, he did not feel safe or secure at school.

By age 17, Morris met a man named Mark in Minneapolis; they would stay together for 20 years, until Mark's death in April 2001. For most of their time together, they lived in San Francisco. The relationship was very traumatic; Morris recalled, "I just kept thinking that the abuse would stop, that I loved him, and that things were going to change. What I did learn is that abusive partners do not change; they sometimes get worse."
 
Things seemed to change for Morris after the start of the new millennium. Morris met his future husband, Larry, while attending church in San Diego. After being together for some time, the two got married in 2008, on the last day possible for same-sex couples to do so before Proposition 8 took effect in California, banning same-sex marriage.

Although things appeared to be getting better, Morris has faced a few bumps along the way and is still not safe from discrimination or harassment.  On his most recent birthday, September 16, in Lake Forest, Calif., Morris was performing on the street when two men drove by and tossed windshield wiper solution in his face.  The case is currently in court and is being pursued as a hate crime, due to the dialogue exchanged, including the words "fag" and "faggot."







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