It was the most traditional of places to break the traditions: a 13th century church in an English village still owned and managed by a lord descended from the Norman conquerers who arrived in the 11th century. There, the mussed-haired, cowboy-boot-wearing vicar married my two gay friends in a small Christian wedding. We rode a double decker bus to and from Brighton and the wedding village. There were hats, so many happy tears, and afterwards at the village pub, Pimm's cups and a roast with Yorkshire pudding. During the reception speeches, the pub staff hung around doorways, faces just peeking through the doors, watching and listening. Some of them cried, too.
Two days before the wedding, C and I took a long walk to the “big house” after the church rehearsal. We went the long public way because we aren’t residents, whom the lord grants the right to pass the short way to the big house. C was nervous and distracted before his wedding, so we didn’t talk much, but we walked in the hot day—80s, humid, clear happy sun—up the road to the manor through herds of sheep and islands of old trees. I’ve known him since he was 10. He still walks the same way, a little duck footed, no efficiency of movement, all energy and ideas and springing wit and creativity. We could have been 12 or 16 or 30, taking this walk together, with him anxious and me calm. At other times, when I have needed an edge rather than a pillow, he’s walked with me, churning out solutions and razor wit.
He’s been unhappy a lot of his life. But, a few years ago, he lost his unhappiness; he was at the most peace I had seen him. Then he met J. And, he became happy, truly, genuinely happy. This past Thursday, it was C and J who took a walk together, down the aisle built deep in the past and to their future that so many couldn't have imagined too long ago.