Templates and Tears

My parents got married before I hit the scene. I knew this because as well as being called “Mummy and Daddy” they were also called “Mr and Mrs Pepper.” My grandparents were also married, as were all of my parents’ cousins and friends. At school all of my teachers were married. I knew this because their names all started with “Mrs.” The only teacher who wasn’t married was Miss Simpson and I knew this because her name didn’t begin with “Mrs.” Miss Simpson was a cow. I often wondered whether this was the reason for her being unmarried.

When I was 7 we moved house and I started attending a new school, but by then the template of my life had been set. Happily my new life fit the template beautifully. All my teachers bore the “Mrs” honorific and all the new neighbours were pairs of “Mr and Mrs.” I knew that one day I too would get married. With any luck my Mrs would be Katy Bramwell and we’d have two children. The boy would be called Shasta after the C. S. Lewis character and the girl, maybe Charlotte?

When I was 15 I deduced that I wasn’t going to marry Katie Bramwell. This was for a number of reasons, but chief among them was the realisation that I’m gay.
Thankfully I had an easy time of it being gay. All my friends at school were accepting of me. I had the safety of school drama with which to express my inner life; I have a gay brother; and Mr and Mrs Pepper were both very accepting when I finally came out to them. So I very quickly amended the template and deduced that one day I’d settle down with a fella, probably Jason Orange. All was dandy. And yet…

My barometer for what was normal was already tuned. It’s pretty hard to re-write 15 years of hardwiring. All evidence now suggested that I wasn’t normal, I was other.

Blah, blah, yada, yada, why this self-indulgent ramble? Well, I’m trying to give you some sort of context to explain why last night at work I suddenly had to slip away to the toilet and take a moment to compose myself before I blubbered over all and sundry. Why did this happen? Because yesterday America granted same sex marriage. This first came to my attention via a daily news site I subscribe to called ‘Facebook.’ It didn’t make a massive impact on me initially, but as the posts poured in something curious started to happen. I was surprised and touched by my straight friends who were so joyous at the news. Why was I surprised? I thought I’d dealt with this. When the ‘It Gets Better’ videos came out a few years ago I was genuinely shocked at the support from the “straight” community. I think on some deep level I’d assumed that my straight friends had merely been tolerating me all these years, in the way you tolerate a pair of fabulous shoes that don’t quite fit, but are fun and edgy once a year for the staff Christmas party. Anyway, I thought I’d got over this ridiculous way of thinking; turns out I hadn’t. But more than this I found myself genuinely overcome at something else: the thought of all the children who will be born into a world that now has a new template. These children won’t feel accepted. And that is wonderful. Yes, you read that correctly. I never wanted and I never want to be accepted. Acceptance is only one step up from tolerance. Acceptance is the act of coming to peace with something undesirable. To know that you’ve been accepted is to know that you’re undesirable. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. I have never accepted my parents’ marriage because I have never had to accept it. I’ve never given it any thought. It just is and it always has been. Just as the sun has always been in the sky and the wind has always been invisible. Some day soon millions of children in America will grow up with no opinion on “gay marriage” and that makes me sob with joy. Why has this news got me crying in toilets? I didn’t feel much when Ireland got on the bus the other week. I wasn’t all that fussed when the UK got on the bus. That’s because we’re a small, eccentric island with daft ideas. But America…America’s huge. It’s a frickin’ continent (well…nearly)! America does something and it tends to affect the rest of the world. At least half of my cultural intake has always come from America. Yesterday’s ruling will have a massive effect on America’s culture and as that culture is exported to the rest of the world the ripples of goodness will wash over the whole planet. This makes me happy and snotty.

Today I have very mixed feelings about Gay Pride, but when I think about the future of this funny tribe called Human, I have very good feelings, very good feelings indeed.

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