The groomsmaids filed in to the tune of “teenage dream”, their dresses flowing magnificently down the stairs, their respective escorts dangled off their arms like so much blue, black and white jewelery. I smiled just a little as I noticed the lesbian couple: that girl pulls off the suit and tie look better than some men I know.
This didn’t seem like an ordinary wedding, and yet (happily) it was. As Katy Perry reached her chorus the two grooms, supported by their respective mothers, followed their groomsmaids in. It suddenly struck me as a strangely apt thing to do.
Music stopped, glances were shared and the ceremony began. As they shared their vows, I looked over at Russell beside me. His eyes welled with tears: a look of pride, joy, and something else. I rested my hand on his knee and he took it immediately, giving it a little squeeze.
Russell, like just about every other good thing that’s ever happened to me, happened entirely independently of my own doing. This is both the joy and the confusion of the situation for me: I don’t know why it is he suddenly entered my life, and I don’t know why he might leave it just as suddenly.
We first met in mid February this year. At first I thought it was something of a joke. I mean, a geeky (attractive) Christian gay guy who not only found me interesting, but wanted to date as well? Not even in my most secret and fervent prayers had I hoped there would be so accurate a match for me. It seemed to me as though someone had dreamed up the perfect guy as a form of torment. The first date proved him far from a joke: more real than I had imagined.
Six months on and things are still far from certain. We both have our doubts, but to be honest this is the most real relationship I have ever participated in. I find it hard to explain what I mean by “real”. I guess it’s on the completely other end of “fantasy”: not without its complications, surely, but firmly rooted in a reality that makes me optimistic about the future. I even used the dreaded “L” word. Something I’ve never done before without prompting.
We danced that night at the reception, trying awkwardly to figure out how two men do the two-step. I feel so humbled to have been invited to attend such an intimate occasion with Russell’s friends. As the day progressed, I reasoned that Russell and I must be the only other gay male couple at the wedding. It kind of made sense in a strange way. Marriage is still not a particularly gay thing, some gay pundits going so far as to decry it “heteronormative” and “sell out”. They say we should define whatever relationships suit us.
I don’t really care much about what they say.
I mean, admittedly, as a teenager I never saw marriage as high on my priority list. Then again, I never saw relationships as particularly important either. I’ve always believed in existentialism: life is about experiencing things. Being single is like that moment when you’re experiencing that life and something so surprising happens you turn to the person next to you and exclaim “wow! did you see that?”… only to find there is no one there.
Dodging the smokers to stand with Russell on the balcony of the hotel room, looking out at the serene beauty of lake Wakatipu, it’s easy to understand why relationships are important for so many people, and have become so important to me too.