By James Lawremce of Blackpool
My second name is James and Lawrence is my partner’s second name. In the interests of anonymity I have chosen to go by that name today.
A nom de plume is a necessity in the line of business from which I have yet to retire at 77 years old. There is still prejudice against gay men and women including elderly ones.
I have been gay as long as I can remember. I have been married for as long as I can remember too. We went to the church where I had been christened and confirmed, held hands and made our vows before God. There was no priest present but hand-picked close friends, who could be relied upon to keep our secret, came as witnesses. No one conducted a service. It was decades later, with the introduction of civil partnerships, that we were able to make it legal. That was in the eyes of the law.
But in the eyes of everyone who matters to us we have lived together as partners for almost 50 years, and celebrate our anniversary with a cruise in July.
It was important for us both for reasons I won’t go into that our union was recognised in the eyes of the Lord. That’s why we didn’t just “marry” in my childhood church but went on to his, an Anglican one, an hours drive away, to make sure we were doubly married.
Others, including at least four members of our respective families, call our so-called church wedding a mockery. My partner’s daughter by his first marriage, which lasted all of three years, is not of that opinion I am glad to say. She has embraced me as a second father to her, a mother really, as her own died 30 years ago. She has made us grandparents too and in turn great-grandparents.
But it’s still surprising, after all these years, how much intolerance is still out there. We remain active and practising Christians, this time under the auspices of a church which recognises and celebrates our differences and supports us. However, it is upsetting to pick up a national paper and note the vitriol of the comments made since David Cameron (pictured) said he supported gay marriage. In time, legislation may encourage or even ensure CE and RC churches celebrate same sex weddings. Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, is outraged at the suggestion. Yet how can spiritual leaders claim the high moral ground while appearing to marginalise gay men and women? What is the true meaning of marriage if not faith?