Saturday 29th March 2014 was an historic day. At midnight, same-sex marriage became legal in England and Wales. It was the result of a long, hard battle, with many right-wingers and homophobes attempting to stand in the way of equality.
It was on that day, too, that Benjamin Till and Nathan Taylor were finally married in a somewhat unconventional ceremony. Staying true to their jobs as a composer (Benjamin) and West End performer (Nathan), they turned their day into a musical.
Naturally, this courted controversy from the gay community. A lot felt that it simply reinforced stereotypes and implied that all gay men find musical ‘simply fabulous, dahling’. I must confess that I was firmly in this camp (pun very much intended). After seeing the newlyweds on ITV’s This Morning on the day of the TV broadcast, however, I changed my mind as they pointed out that they work in and love musicals and merely wanted their nuptials to reflect this. In their own words, ‘We’re not saying that all gay men love musicals – that’s ridiculous. We’re just saying that these two do.’
Having only been commissioned by Channel 4 in early February, Benjamin and Nathan had a mere seven weeks to write the lyrics and arrange the music for their ceremony but the time restraints didn’t show and was impeccably executed. It may have been peppered with celebrity appearances (including video messages from Ed Milliband and Nick Clegg – but strangely no David Cameron) but the whole thing really acted as a celebration of not only the couple’s time together and love for each other but also the gay community’s road to equality. Stephen Fry, who narrated the programme in the inimitable style of his, for which he is so treasured, fittingly emphasised the paramount importance of the 29th March in his opening monologue, describing the day as ‘extraordinary and historic’ and paving the way for a series of poignant reminders about the many highs and, unfortunately, many lows that LGBT people have faced through the years. During a brilliant performance of Erasure’s ‘A Little Respect’, the audience was taken through the imprisonment of gay men for so-called “homosexual acts” in 1954, the decriminalisation of homosexuality for over 21s in 1967, the AIDs epidemic, Section 28’s introduction and removal, the arrival of civil partnerships, and finally 2013; the year in which the same-sex marriage bill was passed and, against the will of some but to the jubilation of many, gays were permitted to marry.
One of the most beautiful moments of the ceremony for me, however, (yes, even more beautiful than the vows and subsequent kiss) was the song sung by Nathan and Benjamin’s mams, based on notes they gave them about how they felt when their sons came out. For a long time, I – needlessly, I’m sure – felt hugely guilty after I came out to my parents. I felt like I’d broken my mam’s heart in particular, turned her life upside-down. Nathan’s mam sang, ‘It took time to get to know the man who used to be my precious little boy’,’ and I know that that is how my own mam felt. I’d like to think, and am pretty certain, that, eighteen months after telling her that I’m gay, my mam has become used to it and realised that it doesn’t change anything. I can still have children. I can still express love and have it reciprocated. God, I can even get married now! Most importantly, though, I can still be happy. The only difference is, it’ll be with a man; not the woman she envisaged. I know that Noëlle and Celia’s song would have helped my mam if she had heard it when I came out, and I am certain that it will help many gay people and their parents realise that their worries, anger and guilt are not uncommon and will be overcome in time.
Our Gay Wedding: The Musical was camp as Christmas but at the heart of it was love; deep love between two men that was recognised in the eyes of the law and by millions of viewers. Finally! Benjamin and Nathan should be tremendously proud of their achievement and, like everyone else sane and capable of love around the world, I wish them every happiness.
Just as long as they don’t subject us to bloody Jon Snow singing the news again!
Image thanks to Channel 4 and Richard Ansett
Our Gay Wedding: The Musical is still available on 4OD
What did you think of Our Gay Wedding: The Musical? Do you agree or disagree with my review? Please comment below or tweet me – @UKTVReviewer