Saturday, July 21, 2012

The 49ers, #62: Daniel J. O'Donnell

In early 2010, Rob Trucks began a series of conversations with 49-year-old Americans. For eighteen months, until the eve of his own 50th birthday, Trucks interviewed over 200 men and women. This is one of those interviews:

In November of 2002 lawyer Daniel J. O’Donnell became the first openly gay man elected to the New York State Assembly. The older brother of entertainer Rosie O’Donnell represents the 69th District, primarily comprised of the 40 blocks between 85th and 125th Streets on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, the neighborhood where he has lived with partner John Banta for over 20 years.

At the time of this interview, O’Donnell had run unopposed in his last two elections and assumed a leadership role in the attempt to pass the Marriage Equality bill in Albany. The Marriage Equality Act has since been signed into law and O’Donnell and Banta were married in January, 2012. O’Donnell, whose friends call him Danny, has read John Kennedy O’Toole’s Confederacy of Dunces at least twice. We spoke in his district office on November 12, 2010, five days before his 50th birthday.

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I would say that I was mildly to strongly depressed in the last few days about this looming day. My mother died at 39, and so I didn’t like turning 40 either. But it seems almost like borrowed time. It's time that I don't know that you’re supposed to have. My mother didn’t have it.

It's not really a rational thing. I do know that the life expectancy of an American male is 77, but that's an emotional response. I guess if you were somebody who had alive, active parents when you turned 50 as some of my friends do, then 50 may not seem quite as old as it does to me . . .

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