Peaches Geldof on same-sex marriage

April 8, 2014 at 11:22 pm (Civil liberties, gay, good people, Human rights, law, love, posted by JD, RIP)

 

Peaches Geldof, who died on Monday, had become a serious and thoughtful person, and a very good writer. In her memory, we re-publish this powerful piece that she wrote for The Independent, published on 9 October 2012. Happily, Peaches lived to see this battle won, but her message of tolerance, love and decency is still worth reading, and stands as a fitting memorial:

In the summer of 2003 I was 14 years old, and my best friend was a gay boy named Daniel. He was smart, funny and totally unaware of how beautiful he was. Everyone seemed to be in love with him at some point, but he was in love with his school friend Ben.

Every day after classes ended, Daniel, Ben and I would hang out. For a little bit, they could both be funny, bitchy queens in the most unashamed and wonderful way, and all was right in the world. Time would glide. As the years progressed we three drifted our way through youth, our journeys disjointed but always seeming to connect at significant points along the way.

Daniel came out to his parents two years after he and Ben became serious. He was 16. I was there when he told them, I don’t know if he’d planned on me being there for support, he never told me. I sat hiding at the top of the stairs in his house, listening. His mother laughed, I’d always loved her laugh, it sounded musical, like bells ringing, and I remember that laugh was just full of love in that moment, and she said to him she’d always known and how happy she was that he had experienced love and it didn’t matter who with. His father echoed her sentiments entirely and I heard the intake of breath that always seems to precede a meaningful hug.

Back in his room, his face seemed different somehow. Where once his eyes had seemed to me to be restless and distant at times, now they just shone. His whole face shone, with this pure elation, and in that ephemeral moment I realised how these revelations people make to the ones who mean something to them, can make a person into something great or break them entirely.

Accept and respect

And Dan was made in that moment. He was whole. I remember vividly having this weird image in my head of the old Disney movie of Pinocchio, where the good fairy turns him into a real boy. And looking back I guess Daniel had been exactly that, just wooden, all that time before. I learned that day that all you really need to do to make someone happy is to accept who they really are, and respect who they are.

Weeks passed and Ben still hadn’t participated in the big coming out party. Where once our after-school hangouts had been easy, effortless fun, now they seemed tense. Instead of Ben and Daniel’s relationship becoming more open, it seemed all the more clandestine. They both confided in me in emotional, tearful phone calls and I began to feel like the go-between. I was falling into other interests and felt myself pulled in a different direction, away from these boys that were so much a part of me. I started loathing our meetings because I could see how terrified Ben was of revealing himself to his parents, and how Daniel was pushing him to the point where it seemed inevitable that he would just leave.

What he didn’t understand, having never met them due to Ben’s terror of being caught out, was that Ben’s parents were different to his. His mother was, and always had been, a housewife who had raised him, his two sisters and three brothers seemingly without any help as his father, a Protestant priest, had staunchly archaic views on where a woman’s place was. Weeks, months passed. We grew and changed, summers came and went. It was winter two years later when the ultimatum was issued, and by then too much was at stake, and Ben did come out to his parents. I sat there, on the same patch of grass in Cavendish Square, worn down from our school shoes, and my friend wept as the words left his mouth. I grieved for them, knowing I could never take the words back for him myself.

Devastated

His mother was devastated, his father, in his words, “ruined”. They both told him he was sick and a failure. He left home. How, of course, could he have stayed. I think, after that, Ben hated Daniel a little bit, partly because he had pushed him to come out, partly because he was jealous. But in the end he loved him more, and Daniel’s parents allowed him to move in to their house and live there with him.

Years passed. We had kept in touch by email, but our lives had taken us in different directions and our friendship wasn’t the same any more. It was December, freezing, when I received the invitation to their wedding. They had been living in New York, where gay marriage had been legalised. I was elated. More than that. These boys, who had been such an intrinsic part of my teenage years, were finally getting what they deserved. It was a beautiful moment.

In New York, the snow had covered everything in a soft white blanket, making it new again. As everyone was gathering outside the city hall, I spotted Ben’s parents. They seemed nervous, but they were there. I assumed they had eventually come round to his sexuality, but he later told me they had turned up without telling him. He had sent them an invite, half out of defiance and half out of hope, but had never expected them to be there for him. In that moment I saw how powerful marriage can be.

A nation of dictating pigs

This man, who I loved so much, was marrying his best friend, his soul mate. Taking vows to stand by him until death. And why not? Why, if these two men wanted to be married in the country they were born in, would it only be regarded as a “civil partnership” – a title more insulting than anything else, a half measure. It’s not as if us saintly heteros take the institution of marriage so seriously, is it? A recent study shows same-sex civil partnerships lasting longer than straight marriages, and divorce at a record high.

I have had first-hand experience of how wonderful the introduction of gay marriage has been, and how negative and potentially damaging it is to not allow it, which just breeds more homophobia. For a country and culture that declares ourselves so progressive, our governments, citizens and, of course, our churches, can be small-minded bigots at the best of times. One day we’ll look back on the gay marriage ban as we look back on historical events like apartheid. Because in the end, that’s what it is, pointless, futile segregation. I long for the day when we break free of this Orwellian ridiculousness, a nation of dictating pigs, where “all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others”.

And even if Daniel and Ben’s marriage was a small squeak of opposition drowned out in the roar of prejudice, at least it happened. And it will continue to happen, til death do they part.  

22 Comments

  1. pinkagendist said,

    Lovely and sentimental- and somewhat sensationalistic, not entirely representative of the haphazardness of young gay emotion.

  2. Peaches Geldof on same-sex marriage | OzHouse said,

    […] Apr 09 2014 by admin […]

  3. Simon Burton said,

    ‘A serious and thoughtful person’? I’m wondering how such a person came to advocate the OTO. For those who aren’t aware, the Ordo Templi Orientis was Aleister Crowley’s church, whose creed was ‘Do what you will’, and whose history has been linked with allegations of Nazism, anti-semitism and Sex Magik. Very much the ‘Church of the Poison Mind?’

  4. Simon Burton said,

    Lay off Saint Bob. How many starving kids have you saved?

  5. Lamia said,

    I can’t fault you for brass neck. The British left has just shown its unmistakable sympathy for and affiliation to, a world power, Russia, which is increasingly scapegoating and persecuting gay people. Communist states had a long record of persecuting LGBT people, and their nostalgists in the non-Labour left are still unerring apologists for some of the most homophobic regimes and political movements in the world and are implacable enemies of the sole country in the Middle East where LGBT people enjoy reaonable safety and human rights. You are no friends of LGBT people. Please don’t pretend to be.

  6. februarycallendar said,

    Maleski’s earlier posts in this thread were merely insane.

    But the Anne Frank reference [now deleted -JD] is genuinely chilling.

  7. februarycallendar said,

    Can we ban this creep?

    (Isn’t it interesting how he refuses to capitalise the word “Jew”?)

    • Nomis Notrub said,

      Actually Feb, I believe many people avoid using the word Jew as it has anti-Semitic connotations, whereas jew, not so much, but still a bit dodgy. Israeli – much better. Much as I would love to support your call for this ‘gentleman’ to be banned, I fear he may himself be a Semitic anti Semite and therefore immune from criticism from Gentiles. I do feel however that his self-loathing might benefit from psychotherapy, or perhaps lobotomy?

  8. Nomis Notrub said,

    No, Mr Maleski, very few People of the Jewish faith are genetically Semitic, whereas the great majority of Palestinian people are. But what’s your point?

    • februarycallendar said,

      He has no point, other than the sort of bigotry and fear that could come from either the far-Left or far-Right (effectively indistinguishable on this front).

      • Psi Clone said,

        Looking back over this blog roll call it seems as if Paul Molestki has already been banned several times, but keeps infiltrating his way back in. The man is filled with hateful hate for everyone. Banning is not final enough for him. Isn’t there a permanent solution to the Molestki problem?

      • Jim Denham said,

        The creepy anti-Semite and holocaust-denier Maleski has indeed been banned many times from here, and I’ve just deleted all his comments from this thread (but have left in place the replies and responses to him, which may cause some confusion). Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to maintain a permanent ban on someone who’s determined to get their comments posted, and as I’ve been busy over the last few days and not checking the blog as frequently as usual, Maleski’s odious comments were not immediately deleted as they should have been.

  9. Lynn Ferguson said,

    Jim. Have you seen the nutters on here? How come this stuff is still up?

    • Psi Clone said,

      Absolutely! Get the censors on to ‘em pronto. Only approved thoughts allowed. Unfortunately nutters attract more nutters, and the guy who said Peaches, advocate of Aleister Crowley’s Nazi, anti Semitic, sex magik OTO was a ‘serious and thoughtful person’ opened the door to them and put up a poster ‘nutters welcome here!’

  10. Lynn Ferguson said,

    Cheers Jim

  11. Simon Burton said,

    At the risk of being labelled ‘dodgy’ again by Jim, I must admit to being fed up with the slur of anti-semitism being used to silence anyone who criticises the conduct of a Zionist regime, most of whose supporters are not of Semitic origins, but who are oppressing people who mostly ARE Semitic – the natives of Palestine. It’s positively bizarre. And let’s get another thing clear – Zionism is not Judaism, it’s something much more akin to fascist nationalism. Why people on the left go weak at the knees where this is concerned I can only imagine – is it moral cowardice? Or are we dealing with crypto Zionism ?

    • Vigdis Rødgrød said,

      there is no such thing as a ‘semite’ ffs, how many times must it be said?

      ‘antisemitism’ was a word invented by vile people to give a ‘respectable’ sounding ‘scientific’ gloss to Judenhass ie ‘jew hatred’.

      • Babs said,

        I linked to a website explaining that that but admin deleted my response for some reason.

      • Rosie said,

        Babs – I’ve checked your comments and can’t see one linking to a site explaining antisemitism. However I’ve already told Burton that his interpretation makes no sense in eg saying “Wagner was anti-semitic”. I suppose if he comes across a sentence about antisemitism in Roman Catholicism (especially relevant at Easter) he thinks they were down on Palestinians. However I think his ignorance on this point is disingenuous and he should be ignored.

      • Simon Burton said,

        Rosie, I can’t make any sense of your comments – you haven’t told ‘Burton’ anything of the sort. Are you getting me mixed up with some other ‘anti-Semite’?

      • Simon Burton said,

        Fair enough Vigdis, how about we substitute ‘Zionhass’ for anti-semitism? That keeps it focused on Zionism.

  12. paul maleski said,

    Shiraz- Do you trust Jim Denham to tell the truth?

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