My wife takes the bins out. She plays rugby, drinks Guinness and hasn’t worn heels since 1998. It’s fair to say she does not fit the feminine stereotype of a woman, or, for that matter, a wife. On the other hand, while I have been known to venture out of the house without my face done and in a joggers / trainers combo, this is predominantly for the purposes of dog walking; I love nothing more than a visit to my beautician or a new shade of nail varnish.
This is us. Luckily, we are OK with that. To set a good example to the next generation it’s important for adults who fall outside of the white, cis, hetero umbrella to be happy with who they are. Of course this isn’t always easy, but exuding confidence and comfort helps others to realize that they, too, are OK. I have to consider this when supporting the young people I work with. If I am embarrassed, awkward or fearful of my identity then what does this say to them if they are questioning theirs?
In fact, my wife is also ever so partial to a pedicure and a glass of ice cold prosecco – we don’t have a simple divide of gendered activities. But a woman / wife is free to be whatever she chooses, in theory. I am an advocate for this as I am for women’s rights.
But as my wife and I have had our share of homophobic rubbish thrown our way over the years, I think the perception vs reality of our union is one to be explored. So, in our newly equal, feminist, free thinking partnership, how do we discover our very own marital bliss?
We only viewed one wedding venue. On our second visit our genuinely attentive host carefully shared his knowledge of LGBT nuptial history, legalities and all, with us, his first ever same-sex couple to go the whole hog. He was able to guide us through the never-ending list of choices, offering advice that spanned sexuality, merely giving his opinion of the most stress free experiences – all of which were gratefully received and mostly acted upon. We had a lovely time. There are moments, though, that I regret some of the choices we made.
Although we did not incorporate a religious element into our celebrations, we did take on board some of the traditional elements of a heterosexual marriage. The cake cutting, walking down the aisle, top table and so on. Why we adopted these traditions I am not wholly sure. Swept up in the routine of it all and a little overwhelmed with the choices we had to make, it could be argued that we simply rolled over and indulged that hetero mimicry. But then on the other hand, why the hell shouldn’t we? I suppose the point of argument is formed by an individual’s understanding of the point of marriage. If your marital belief system is hinged upon the religious blessings bestowed upon a man and a woman then your acceptance and understanding of my marriage may be compromised. If, like me, your understanding of marriage is more about a declaration of love between two people, creating an emotional, financial and practical security and starting a journey together regardless of sex or gender, then our set-up won’t be so hard for you to grasp.
Some of you may be rolling your eyes in frustration with my musings. I know we are a more progressive society than we once were. For the heterosexual couples who enter into domestic bliss equally, the stay-at-home dads and the pro-feminist man, I know you are out there and I celebrate and welcome your choices. Women and men who are in couples together who do not identify with chauvinistic gender stereotypes are ploughing forward setting sterling examples to the next generation of young people trying to work out their roles within relationships, regardless of their sexuality or gender.
I suppose this relates to my original point, to live honestly and genuinely, to set a truly positive example to our children and the young people in our communities, all we can be is what we are. Being happy in our own skin, in our own life choices and our own everyday reality is powerful and important. If the next generation of brides and grooms are to have successful, happy marriages, surely being confident about their own identities will go a long way towards enabling this. I think so. With that final thought I must dash – the wife’s due home shortly and her pipe and slippers need arranging.
The photo was taken by the author. It shows her wedding cake, which has white icing and is decorated with pink ribbon, lace and wool. On top there is a decoration that reads “Here come the brides”.