When Intervention Isn't Enough

Drunken rages took a toll on a relationship and were typically heartbreaking.




Was he struggling with addiction when you first met?
He was, but it wasn't really at the forefront. You know, he always told me that he felt that his addiction [existed] for two reasons. One was unfortunate genetics, and alcoholism did run in his family, but also the fear of coming out really contributed significantly to his addiction. When he was was younger, even before I came around, he just couldn't cope with "What's going to happen to me if my family and friends find out I'm gay?" so he would turn to the bottle. That's really how his addiction became so significant — his fear over being a gay man. That's very sad to me because that's a huge problem in society, especially with teenagers. They're so afraid to come out, and the first instinct that they have is to turn to drugs or alcohol to cope. That just starts the cycle.

Is the gay dependence on substances getting better as society grows more accepting?
Well, equality was very important to Chris. We were very upset and bothered by the fact that we couldn't get married — that was a really big deal to Chris. And actually, that part made it to the show, you know, the lack of gay marriage, the lack of gay rights. Why weren't we recognized as a committed couple like other people? That caused great pain to him. These stories like mine and Chris's need to get out there and show people that [gay inequality causes] real pain. In fact, one of the things I'm going public with is that when I found Chris he was still somewhat alive — barely alive, but alive. I was denied entrance into the E.R. while my partner of 15 years was lying dying. They made me wait in a children's nursery while my partner was dying in the E.R. It happens all the time. I can't tell you the pain knowing that Chris wasn't going to make it and then to add onto it and make me feel like a second-class citizen. So many things need to change.

Are there civil unions or domestic partnerships in Delaware?
No. Not yet.

Were Chris's fears unfounded or legitimate, as far as his family turning against him for being gay?
A little of both. It was just lack of ever being around a situation like that. For many years, we were never included as a couple until Chris finally stood up to his family and said, "Look, it's either going to be me and Shawn or not me at all." And once his family realized that they caused him pain, they really did come around. It was never the way we originally wanted it, but at least we were recognized. I think that families really need to be more educated in terms of accepting gay children and their partners. That's something that we struggled with, but in the end I can honestly say that Chris's immediate family and I did shoulder up together, and we worked on our relationship and how we were going to help Chris together as a family. Even now, his immediate family and I are extremely close. We have the kind of relationship now that Chris always wanted us to have. It's just sad that it had to happen after he passed away.

Tags: television