…Husband and husband. Those words are like manna from heaven for many gay men – the culmination of romance and love and commitment in a single, powerful gesture with the man you love and with whom you wish to spend the rest of your life.

Gay marriage is the new normal. Yet there was a time just a scant few years ago where the most that gay men could aspire to were the likes of ‘domestic partnerships’ or ‘civil unions,’ or other such legal contortions. Anything but ‘real’ marriage, darling! Only the hets could have that. It’s actually scary just how recently that was the norm, anywhere. How times change. Now, many gay men can aspire to so much more – they can aspire to actual matrimony itself. Imagine the amount of young boys today who secretly dream of their wedding day to the cute blond boy across the street! How many of us could even dare to dream of that when we were that young? Now there’s a thought about times a-changin’…

The recent, rushed history of gay marriage is worth noting here. The Netherlands was first off the mark, legalizing gay marriage in 2001, with Belgium next in 2003. There were the ‘usual,’ more liberal suspects like Canada, Norway, Sweden and Denmark too. Very interesting were some of the countries that came years before even the Scandinavian countries in legalizing gay marriage: who would have expected Spain, always thought of as a staunchly Catholic country, to do so in 2005? Not to mention my very own country of South Africa, who, by legalizing gay marriage in 2006, bucked the lamentably homophobic trends of an entire continent. And there are some weird anomalies too. One can currently get married on Pitcairn Island but not Australia, and in Portugal and Argentina, but not Italy or Greece. And a gay man could get married in the Coquille Indian Tribe and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nations years before it became legal in the whole of the United States! Don’t you love that?!

Gay marriage has become an enormous cottage industry in many countries. And there’s a light side to all of it, of course. The cynical amongst us can look on and titter away at the gushing and high emotion of some gay weddings. Let’s face it – some of these gay marriage thingymabobs are as camp as Donald Trump’s hairstyle is bad! Think not? Then I suggest you check out soon-to-be-wed Michael and Jordan at their swish website at gayhorrorstorywedding.com (oh, what a deliciously ironic name!) to see gay marriage camparama at its best. Even photos of Judy Garland look down on them in one pic of our two lovebirds. Gay men will react in three different ways to these two: 1. ‘Oh, they look so happy – good for them’ or 2. Accepting indifference or 3. Gagging most loudly. Your reaction to that site will reveal your true feelings about being married. I keep hoping that it’s a subversive spoof site, but I have my doubts.

There’s also the flip side to all the hurrahs and joy with gays winning their battles to be able to wed, never mind the White House being all lit up in the rainbow colours. The tragedy is that the vast majority of gay men around the world do not enjoy even the remotest chance at legal cohabitation rights, never mind marriage. The rest of us in the gay meccas and the gay-tolerant oases of the world take it all for granted, but we need to remember that the victories remain quite isolated in terms of the greater world.

But do we need it? Do we really need to be defined by our ability to be legally married? In short, yes. And that doesn’t mean you need to want it yourself. Heaven knows, I don’t!  After all, I wrote an article a few months ago in which I hailed the wonders of being single. I’m the guy who laughed out loudest when the musician Kinky Friedman said, “I support gay marriage. I believe that they have the right to be as miserable as the rest of us”. How true, I say! I totally relate to those who see marriage as a yucky institution that reeks of the bourgeois and is akin to being shackled for eternity. But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t defend to the hilt y(our) right to marry. Because we all have that right, whatever our own intentions might be. We should demand it and revel in it.  Just please don’t invite me to your wedding – nothing would depress me more!