Dick Hague, 77, sat with a friend watching the election returns in the residents’ lounge at Barbary Lane, the LGBT senior community apartment building near Oakland’s Lake Merritt. Outside, we could hear cheering in the streets as Barack Obama became the president-elect of the United States of America.
But it was a bittersweet moment of sorts for Hague, who’s elation for Obama’s win was tempered by concern over Proposition 8.
“My partner, Otto Bremerman, died a year ago. If he were still alive, we would be married today,” Hague said, noting he and Bremerman had been together for 48 years. “Regardless of what the proponents of Proposition 8 say, it’s really a civil rights issue. There’s no doubt in my mind about that.”
“But even if we lose on Proposition 8, you have to recognize that the direction of history is going toward greater civil rights for people, greater equality,” he added. “Losing on Prop. 8 would be a setback but it’s not going to change the trend.”
When the upstate New York native came to the Bay Area in the mid-1950s after fighting in Korea, “you could not be out gay and keep your job,” Hague said. “In fact you couldn’t even be ‘obvious,’ as they used to say. So we’ve come a long way.”
Just consider what would’ve happened if you’d suggested back then that an African-American would become president. “You know what kind of answer you would’ve gotten: ‘Never.’ “