Sunday, November 10, 2013

"He's perfect."

My editor asked me to tell a love story about a same-sex couple who would now be getting married, in the wake of the Illinois legislature legalizing gay marriage, and I was fortunate to find Tzu-Kai Lo and Alain Villeneuve—behold the power of Facebook. 
    There is one bit of background I should mention. As I started to report the story, and the details of their romance, I had a moment of ... I'm not sure what. Difficulty. Despite my 20 years writing about this subject, and despite supporting equal civil rights for gays and lesbians, I had never really focused on one couple before, never chronicled a narrative like this one. To my surprise, there was a renegade qualm, apparently, somewhere in the back of my mind that can be roughly translated as, "It's two guys." I paused, perceived it, contemplated it, then overcame it—shook it off, basically—realizing, once again, that each of us has vestigial prejudices lingering somewhere in the vast cosmos of his or her brain, and everyone has to be vigilant in order to treat others with the fairness and compassion that we all expect and we all deserve. 

Alain Villeneuve, left, with Tzu-Kai Lo (and Oscar)
     Tzu-Kai Lo was studying for his Masters in Law at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana in 2001.
     If you think studying law is difficult, try studying law when your command of the English language is shaky. Lo, born in Taiwan, had been in the U.S. for just two years.
     And the class wasn’t just law but patent law. That is like regular law, only duller.
     In his class was another international student, Alain Villeneuve, a French speaker from Montreal whose English was excellent and constantly being heard in class.
    One evening, Lo was studying, or trying to, bewildered at what he was attempting to understand.     
     Desperate, he thought the Canadian student might help him.
     “He talked a lot in class, always talking,” Lo said. “You cannot stop him. I figured I would ask him for help.”

To read the rest of the column, click here.

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