The day has finally arrived. Gay Marriage is legal in Great Britain. Growing up in Swansea (South Wales) in the 90s, with its small gay scene and my homophobic mother (homophobic at the time, and I mean it in the true sense of the word – she was afraid of what she didn’t understand), being gay felt scary, frustrating and not something to be proud of.
The bars and club were hidden away from the main throng of city life and I’d dash into them ashamedly under the cover of darkness. It was exciting in those early days too, but my mother’s violent reaction to my sexuality when a family friend decided to make a heartless, deranged phone call late one night when I was 17, cast a shadow over our relationship for years to follow.
I never dreamed that 12 years later I’d be able to legally walk down the aisle with a man that I loved and say “I will” (“I do” is an American term). The Queen’s approval today was a formality – the last step on the road to greater equality that started with the age of consent being made equal and the hateful section 28 being repealed in the early 00s.
Prime Minister David Cameron surprised many with his strong ‘pro’ stance on gay marriage, including many of his own party. And what a drama it has been. Backbench rebellions, vile homophobic and often so-stupid-they’re-funny comments from the House Of Lords, such as Baroness Knight’s remarks that gays are “very good at things like antiques,” have seen the debate move quickly through both houses. The first gay marriages in the UK are likely to be next summer.
Labour gave us Civil Partnerships, which were fantastic, but not enough. Compared to marriage they were at worst a consolation prize, at best, second best. I don’t want to introduce someone to my ‘Civil Partner.’ It sounds formal, cold and unloving, more suited to a tax document. I want to introduce someone to my husband. A word I never thought would become applicable to my life when I was a frustrated, heavy-drinking teen in Swansea.
Today’s news has filled me with hope, optimism and pride. Over the past few years my friends from back home have started getting married (I did just turn 29, ‘tick tock, tick tock Bridget’). Whether invited along to experience their special day myself, or by clicking through their wedding photos on Facebook, I was thrilled for them and wished them every happiness. But I was also filled with sadness, thinking I’d never have ‘that’ myself, that I’d always be on the outside looking in.
Of course legalising gay marriage doesn’t mean I’m now suddenly going to be overwhelmed with suitors. My issues with long-term relationships are still alive and kicking. But now there’s an end goal in sight. I can have my own wedding, with my now reformed, liberal, super-proud, and loving mother standing in the pew with the rest of my family and friends (including the one that outed me, also much changed since that phone call – all is long forgiven). As I’ve grown older, being gay has just become one of the many parts of who I am. Today makes me prouder than ever, and especially prouder than ever to be British. Now all I need is a boyfriend…
By Danny Hilton:
On Facebook: /danhg
On Twitter: danny_hilton
His website: http://www.dannyhiltonmusic.