Arts

Gay Marriage Crosses The Threshold

Unfortunately we can’t all live in free and easy Amsterdam like our recent video protagonist HEisA Jynx. But as England and Wales prepare to toast the first gay marriages on UK soil this week, we’re one step closer to living in a world where love is the only specification, if not reason, for two people to legally marry.

The law was passed last year - predominantly, and unsurprisingly - thanks to continuing support from Labour and the Liberal Democrats. In fact, the Conservative party remained greatly in opposition – something about fearing change? Prime Minister David Cameron, however, did emerge in an interview with Attitude magazine to throw some much needed verbal confetti on the situation and declared that this kind of development shows the true, rainbow, colours of the UK.

The media has chosen a variety of different stories to highlight this historical occasion. On Saturday night, Channel 4 are broadcasting Our Gay Marriage: The Musical which will be narrated by Stephen Fry. Channel 4 also produced a documentary that investigated cures for homosexuality which aired on Tuesday 18 March.

Undercover Doctor: Cure Me, I'm Gay - Channel 4

In the documentary, openly gay Television doctor Christian Jessen went undercover in, you guessed it, America to test some of the "aversion therapies". These procedures ranged from being fed vomit-inducing drugs while watching gay porn to various other weird and pointless exorcisms. We may laugh as America strikes again but this time “only in America” doesn’t fly. Gay “cures” were readily available in the UK, on the NHS no less, up until 1980.

With that in mind, it’s ironic to think that the law was passed under a Tory government. If we cast our eyes back to when Thatcher was in power, it was a very different story.

From Ashes and Diamonds - Darren Coffiled

In 1988 Clause 28 in the Local Government Act was passed under a Tory government, declaring that no local authority should support any guerilla movements or publish any material that might promote homosexuality or homesexual acts. By prohibiting this on a regional scale, there was no opportunity for a mass outcry, rather individual groups were oppressed from within their own communities. Consequently, although disobeying the section carried no criminal charge, many gay groups or organisations in support of homosexuality diminished or self-censored for fear of prosecution.

Fast forward twenty six years and thankfully it’s a different story.

So what happened? The 80s, Thatcher aside, seems to be when perceptions began to change, primarily against the backdrop of political upheaval and rebellion that the 80s provided. The decade saw a major shift, when gay culture began to transform into pop culture.

In fact, the 80s was a game changer in many ways….

So we've come a long way, and it will be interesting to see how new legislation will change the perception of gay culture in the UK. No longer does it connote drag queens, hedonism and promiscuity; now, the topic du jour is marriage and making a family. A modern family. Newly engaged creative polymath Marcelo Burlon said: “I’m going to have a son. They say you can’t plan this, I’m gay, yes I can plan this.”

Yes, one in three marriages in the UK ends in divorce, but isn't it only fair that everyone be given the chance to defy the odds?

Words by Leila De Vito

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