How a chance email started 26 years of fun and adventure.
Victor is an east coast boy, Tim is a west coast boy. We both have a mutual friend who thought we should get together. We did. And 26 years later, we’re still going strong.
We’re left-wing Liberal, opinionated, food-loving, fun-loving guys who love to travel and also love a relatively quiet time at home. We’re also officially married and officially retired.
We started out on the west coast and moved east in 2001. We added Cybil Shepherd to the family in 2003, and Nonna – Victor’s mom – in 2013.
Cybil left us in January 2015 and Blanche joined us in February. Nonna went into long-care nursing in December 2019 and passed from the Corona Virus in April. 2020.
In September 2020, we moved to Beaverton, Oregon.
We’re unapologetic left-leaning Liberals and to paraphrase Pierre Trudeau’s words in Canada “There is no such thing as a model or ideal American. What could be more absurd than the concept of an ‘all-American’ boy or girl? A society which emphasizes uniformity is one which creates intolerance and hate. A society which eulogizes the average citizen is one which breeds mediocrity.”
The Powers-That-Be try to make our lives so complicated and difficult that we don’t have the time or energy to pay attention to what they’re doing to us. We want equality and equal opportunity. It’s pretty simple.
Let them know you’re paying attention.
All lives cannot matter until Black Lives Matter. Don’t fall for the bullshit.
Every single one of us has to work at this. We need to understand our white privilege, understand our history – our real history of racism and how this country was built upon the backs of slaves.
There is no more sugarcoating this or pretending it didn’t happen.
Get educated. https://blacklivesmatter.com/
On May 2, 2010, A Moment in Time was born. Thousands of photographs were taken all at the same time and collected by the New York Times. The photo at left is our contribution. What’s neat is that our photo has been one of the most-viewed world-wide.
Not bad for a couple of guys in the Philadelphia suburbs!
It’s amazing to us that 40+ years after we both came out to our families and friends, kids today still have to face the same issues of guilt, shame and loneliness we felt oh so many years ago. And people say it’s a “choice.” There are not a lot of people out there who would choose a lifetime of hate and denigration or to be called names like “sinner” and “abomination” and “sick” because they happen to love someone of their own sex.
One of the most difficult decisions a gay or lesbian person makes in their life is the decision to “come out” and be open about their sexuality. It’s not an easy decision to make, nor is it the same journey for all of us. Too many people are thrown out of the house, disowned by parents, shunned by family and former “friends.” We are both fortunate to come from large, loving families who embrace us for who we are – not who we love. It would be wonderful if every family was so supportive. Sadly, that is not the case for many.
We travel as often as time and the pocketbook allow. We have been fortunate to travel all over the USofA and a few times to Europe. We have flown first class and have had suites in 5-star hotels. We have also flown coach and stayed at Super 8’s and Motel 6. We’ve driven ‘cross-country a couple of times and took the train from San Francisco back to Philadelphia in 2008 for our non-Honeymoon.
We have been to Washington, DC for protests and sightseeing. New Hampshire to wed and Cape Cod to honeymoon. And Disneyland, Disney World, Honolulu, Boston, Rochester, New Orleans, Omaha, Denver, Los Angeles, New York City, Yosemite, Niagara Falls… We’ve driven ‘cross-country… And London, Paris, Rome, Venice, Florence, and Sicily – with more trips planned for the future… as soon as this #$@&% Pandemic is over.
We do like to travel…
Pre-Marley and Me, author and columnist John Grogan came out to our house and interviewed us for a column. Both of us were pretty rabid Letters to the Editor writers back in the day, and he was intrigued by our story.
The column made its way into the Philadelphia Inquirer and then into a book of his collected columns put out by The Inquirer.
(This appeared in the March 29, 2004 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer and is included in the book of selected columns.)
In many ways, they are a typical suburban couple.
They spend their weekends remodeling their tidy three-bedroom house, which sits on a quiet street in the Main Line community of Strafford. They enjoy gardening and cooking and spoiling their dog, Cybil.
They both come from large, traditional Catholic families, and they dote on their 17 nieces and nephews.
Now in their early 50s, they prefer quiet nights at home to going out on the town. They pay their taxes on time, look in on sick neighbors, and vote each election.
They are ordinary in all ways but one: Tim Dineen and Victor Martorano, a couple for nine years, are homosexuals. And that puts them squarely in the middle of the national debate on same-sex marriage.
They are not the ones protesting on courthouse steps or trying to force change by seeking marriage licenses where they know none will be issued. As the debate rages, they have written letters to newspapers, but otherwise go quietly about their suburban lives. It was for this reason – their very ordinariness – that I sought them out last week. I wanted to see for myself just how different from the heterosexual majority a gay couple in a long-term relationship is.
They give me a tour of their house and show off improvements they have made – new tile, enlarged kitchen, hardwood floors. On the table is a vase of pussy willows brought in from the garden. Outside, a pile of rain gutters sits in the yard, next weekend’s project.
In their own minds, Dineen, a demonstration chef at a Trader Joe’s market in nearby Wayne, and Martorano, who works in the travel industry, already are married. On their first Christmas together, they privately exchanged gold bands that have remained on their left ring fingers ever since. Still, says Dineen, “we will get married the day we legally can do it.”
Some of the motivation is practical. If one is incapacitated, the other right now would need a written power of attorney to make medical decisions – a precaution they already have taken. And as Dineen pointed out over a cup of coffee, “If Victor died tomorrow, I would have to pay inheritance tax on his half of our house.”
Adds Martorano: “The law does not recognize me as his next of kin, and that is wrong. It’s just wrong.”
But more important to the couple is what marriage stands for – a public acknowledgment of a couple’s love and lifelong commitment. “Marriage is a stabilizing force in society,” Dineen says, “and we want to be part of that stabilization.”
After all, they consider themselves solid members of the community. And so do their neighbors. As Peg Schwartz, 73 and a registered Republican, told me later: “I can’t say enough about them. They really could not be better neighbors. They are delightful. They’re just nice, kind, caring people, and that’s what you want in a neighbor.” Having them next door has softened her position on gay marriage, she said. “If that makes them happy, then that’s all that counts.”
And yet, for now at least, Dineen and Martorano will remain the one couple on their street for whom the civil contract of marriage is not an option. Until that day comes, the two men believe stereotypes and prejudice will continue.
“Gay people have a reputation for being extremely promiscuous,” says Dineen, whose full beard and wire-framed glasses give him a professorial air. “Well, not all gay people are.”
Some of them lead their lives not much differently from the straight people on their streets, sharing the same worries and joys and dreams. And that brings Dineen to his main point.
“If we were married tomorrow, the only thing that would be different would be the piece of paper that grants us our rights and responsibilities. Nothing else would change. We would still be here just as we are today, putting new gutters on the house, going to work, grocery shopping, taking the dog to the vet.”
He adds: “I think that’s what so many people fail to realize. We’re here already. We’re a couple already. For all intents and purposes, we are married. We just lack the legalities.”