The Wedding of Keith McDermott and Zhengbin Xu

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This post is quite delayed! On October 5, 2013, a very amazing and happy event happened. I married the man of my life, Zhengbin Xu! We traveled to Davenport, Iowa and were joined by Mom, Dad, Corey, Danielle, Zach, Aaron, and Nathan. We were married in a short ceremony right on the bank of the Mississippi River by Magistrate Carrie Coyle. Afterward, we all had a nice lunch and had photos taken by Danielle at several beautiful locations around Davenport.

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I Don’t Want to Go Back Alone

I watched a video recently that was really touching and shows the purity of love be it same-sex or otherwise.  It can transcend many barriers and is beautiful.  The video below should have captions auto-enabled as the video isn’t in English but be sure to watch the whole thing.  Enjoy the touching and heart-warming video!

Wedding Bells Abound

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© Caucas' - Flickr

It seems like wedding bells are ringing for everyone anymore.  In October I had accepted a job offer after applying to a different part of Purdue University.  In talking with my new manager, I found out she wasn’t married but had been with her boyfriend about as long as Justin and I have been.  Apart from one or two other people, she was the only person other than Justin and I that I knew who wasn’t married.  This past week that changed when she married her boyfriend and became husband and wife.

While I am happy for her and she is one of the most friendly, cheerful and inspiring people I am happy to have met, I’m sad that Justin and I are once again the only un-married couple I know.  I don’t want much – I just want to make official our love for each other in the eyes of the government.  I want to enjoy spending the rest of our lives together in the security that we are able to enjoy all the protections and responsibilities afforded by marriage.  I do not understand why this is such a bad thing and why I still cannot marry the person I love.

Those last two years

Over the past few years, a few things have changed for me. All of them have been good to my overall well-being and such.

First, I came out to my family almost two years ago exactly. This was big as I finally accepted who I am and haven’t looked back since. Overall, I am quite happy with all those I’ve come into contact with along the way since then and how it really isn’t an issue. Of course, there are those who make it one and seem to think that it’s something strange or something that deserves severe debate over (gay marriage anyone?) I’m lucky to have a great supportive family and a workplace that fully supports me as well. I am openly gay at work although I’m not effeminate or anything so you’d never really know it. I have a picture of Justin and I together right next to my monitor as well. It is really great to be able to say things like “boyfriend” and not feel weird or feel that it’ll get weird looks at me for saying it. The world is definitely changing, no matter how much a select few would try to stop it.

Second, I’ve made several job changes, all of which have progressed and gotten better. I used to work at US Steel Gary Works this time two years ago. If anyone from there happens to read this, Hi guys! I was a C#, ASP.Net, and MSSQL programmer. It was a great opportunity to work for such a large company and I definitely learned a lot. I had a lot of fun as well as I was working with and around several really good groups in the plant. However, I found that although it was a good job, I didn’t truly enjoy it as I’m not a “programmer” – meaning that although I like to occasionally program, I just can’t program all day long. I then found a new job – working for Golden Technologies (not the wheelchair one – the tech one). It was a large pay cut but it got me working a lot closer to home and more along something I liked to do. I ended up not staying at that job too long and was there for about 8 or 9 months. That is the shortest I’ve worked at a single job so far. I learned a lot while working at that job. I had the opportunity to work with a very large and diverse set of technologies ranging from laptops to firewalls to network installations to PBX configurations. Although in the end it turned out to not be a good environment for me, I would not change anything. During all these jobs I was working part-time at South Central Schools back home. I’d worked there for many years part-time. Leaving Golden gave me the opportunity to pursue a full-time job at SC and so I started working more hours and in January of 2008 a full-time technology position was created for me. This was a huge help as it not only gave me a full-time job again but gave the other two people a person that could be there all the time to help out. I did get hired on though with the knowledge that I wouldn’t be at the school past the school-year. Although that is a short amount of time, the position would remain and they could fill it later. In about February or so I began to look for a new job at Purdue University. After a few months of possibilities and interviews, I ended up getting a promising lead from the Physics department. In about May I moved down to West Lafayette and began working for the Physics Computer Network as Unix/Mac Desktop Support Specialist at the end of June 2008. It’s been almost six months already since I’ve started and it’s been great since day one.

Third, I’m in a relationship with a great guy, Justin. When I came out two years ago, I had a lot to deal with. I had previously swore that I wanted to be by myself as I didn’t really want to accept that I would want to be with a guy. Once I came out, all that changed. I finally realized that I had the support of my entire family and there was no reason I couldn’t be happy with a guy. But, the question was how was I supposed to find someone? I come from a small town (village?) in a corn field. There’s not really much there. I decided to try gay.com so I bought a membership to the site and built up a profile. Naturally, there are the creepy guys and such which need to be filtered out. Eventually though, there was one good one – CJ. CJ and I talked online for quite a long time – probably a few months even. He lived about an hour and a half away at college but eventually we had decided to finally meet. I remember that it was at a Starbucks. I’d never even been to one before plus it was in a completely new place that I’d never been which made it fun to find even. Anyway, we’d seen pictures of each other but hadn’t video chatted, etc. It was great to finally meet him. 🙂 We hit it off and from there met more often. He worked at a store on the night-shift about 30min from my house on the weekends so I’d drive there at about midnight and have lunch with him. It was simple, but it felt good. In the end, we broke up. We had a good thing going, but I think it was more of a friendship than a true relationship. It was the first relationship for both of us and I think we learned a lot. CJ is a great guy and deserves nothing less than the best. I do sometimes think back and remember the times we were together and it brings a smile to my face.

After we broke up it was hard. I was liking having someone there who I could be with and truly be myself. I didn’t want to try gay.com again although I do still have a profile there. After a few months, I gave another website, manhunt.com a try. I’d never been to it before but had heard the name from someone I knew. It was certainly a different site. There are some people looking for relationships but not too many. Anyway, I posted a profile and a few weeks later, after sifting through many creepy people, found Justin. We talked online on a Wednesday for many many hours. We did the same on Thursday and we wanted to meet each other that quickly. On Friday we also talked online for many hours and on that Saturday I drove down to West Lafayette to meet him for the first time – only three days after first talking online. It was the first time I’d been to the area and I had to drive through football traffic but I eventually got there. Now, Justin’s true name is Zhengbin Xu and he is from China. When we first met, he had only been in America for a few months. He has always been worried that his English isn’t good but even from the beginning I thought it was OK although it has improved since I’ve known him. The first day we were together we did simple things. He made me lunch which was interesting as I think it was a chinese dish which was new to me. His roommate was gone for the day so after that we sat next to each other on their simple couch and he showed me pictures of his family back home. I remember that it started with us sitting next to each other but progressed to him leaning on me and me holding him. I ended up spending the night and we had a second day together. I know that my parents were rightfully worried about me – I was with someone I’d never really met and wasn’t letting them know what was going on. The first day we were together we went to a Moon Festival which is a thing in China. At Purdue there’s a thing where it’s lots of chinese students doing karaoke. Now, I know no Chinese so I had no clue what they were saying but Justin gave me an overview as it was going on and it was still fun regardless. After a few weeks I knew I wanted to be with him forever so I said those three words “I Love You.” Shortly after that he did too and then not long after that we became boyfriends. Fast-forward and it’s now been over a year. We live together in an apartment on campus. He’s sitting next to me at his desk working on a presentation for class and I’m at my desk typing this. In two weeks we’re going to be leaving O’Hare airport for Beijing where we will spend two and a half weeks for Christmas. We’re always talking about our future together and such. I think that if it was legal to be married in Indiana we would be either by now or quite soon. Personally I want to just go get married in Canada even though it’s not recognized in Indiana but it’s a complicated process. Has it always been perfect? Is any relationship? Like any other, there are times when we fight but it’s always things to learn from and work through and in the end to become better people. It’s always an opportunity to learn more and more about each other. Once you work through the bad, you can quickly get back to the good and things can only get better from there.

Wow – this post turned out to be longer than I thought. I had more to post but will put that off until later this week as it was all related to technology and not personal like this.

Hope you enjoyed this little peek into the last two years of my life. I can only see it get better from here although I’m sure there will definitely be some interesting twists and turns ahead on the road of life.