I’m a bit ashamed to admit it, but I used to be against gay marriage and gay adoption. This was like, 10, eight years ago. I was against it, or I thought I was against it, anyway. Actually, I’m not a bit ashamed to admit it. I’m totally ashamed. But it’s the truth – I really was.
I was against gay adoption because I thought – and I don’t know why I thought this, it was just this thought I had, in my head – I thought gay people were more likely to be paedophiles. I thought they just wanted to adopt kids so they could bring them up and then, when they were, like, 12, start having sex with them. That’s what I thought. Also, I thought two men together would never get the kids to school on time or remember to make them brush their teeth or read them a goodnight story. I thought the kids would be forced to make them cocktails and wait on them and run them their baths and then massage them down afterwards with essential massage oils and stuff like that. I was never against lesbians adopting, I remember that. I just didn’t trust men in general and gay men in particular.
You know what changed my mind? It was after my son Rico was born. I went to a playgroup for English-speaking parents and their babies. There was a German guy there. Him and his boyfriend, they had adopted a baby from Africa. I was pretty young when I had Rico – 24 years old – young enough to still be fairly fucking stupid, but old enough to know better. I watched the gay guy change his baby’s nappy. I was watching for signs of, you know, paedophilia. I thought I’d report him to the Jugendamt or something. And then he changed his nappy, and when he was done, he kissed the baby on the nose. I’d been watching him carefully, and then, when he kissed the baby on the nose, I just knew: he wasn’t a paedo. He just kissed the baby on the nose in such a sweet, normal, ordinary way. The kiss was so normal, it was almost boring. And in that moment I knew he wasn’t a paedophile, and that I’d been wrong, and that gay people should be allowed to adopt, if they wanted to, and I averted my eyes discreetly, and changed my mind.
It was kind of the same thing with gay marriage, although I can’t remember why I was against gay marriage, to be honest. I can’t for the life of me remember what my bullshit reasons for that were. I just thought it was strange. I remember that, I remember saying to people: “Well, it is strange.” But then I just started meeting more and more people who were in civil partnerships and they’d say: “Oh, this is my husband,” or sometimes: “Oh, this is my wife.” And I just found it more and more normal and then one day I woke up and found it really normal. One day I found it really normal. The strangest thing about gay marriage in my mind right now is that we’re even still discussing it at all, let alone that there are all these conservatives in parliament saying it shouldn’t be allowed.
“Can I ask you something really stupid?” said my boyfriend over dinner.
“Yeah,” I said.
“What exactly is the difference between gay marriage and a civil union?”
I looked at him blankly. “I’m not sure,” I said. “I think they’re almost the same in Britain, aren’t they? But I think the civil unions in Germany aren’t as good as marriages yet. Do they get the same tax breaks? I think they don’t get the tax breaks. And I think they have to leave each other all their money in their wills. It’s not automatic. And only one of them can adopt, they can’t adopt as a couple. Stuff like that. But I’m not sure.”
“Yeah,” he said. “I’m not sure, either.”
“You know what I think they should totally do in Britain?” I said. “Because you know, the church is getting all uppity about gay marriage and that: damaging the sanctity of marriage and blah–de–blah, blah. Well, I’ve got the perfect solution. They should put the words gay and marriage together. And call it ‘garriage’. Then the church would be happy and they’d be able to get married, too.”
“Garriage?” asked my boyfriend.
“Yeah,” I said. “I think it’s a really good idea.”
“But then they’d have to garry each other. That sounds really stupid. Let’s get garried. It sounds really silly.”
“I think it’s a really practical way of solving the problem,” I said, sulkily. “I’m going to write to Peter Tatchell suggesting it.”
“Hmmm,” said my boyfriend. “Well, don’t be too upset if his reaction is slightly more negative than you’re expecting, okay?”
I nodded. But I didn’t really write to Peter Tatchell. And really, deep down, I know I’m not going to. Coz the truth is, I know I’ll probably be really embarrassed about this “garriage” idea in 10 years’ time. And you know. There’s nothing I hate more than embarrassing my future self. And it’s embarrassing enough, just being me, and living every day. So you know. I don’t wanna push it.