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LIVING IN PARTNERSHIP.
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Recently I was going through some old floppy discs from an old word processor and I came across this article. It was written in 1989 for a gay paper long since gone and forgotten. It is interesting reading it ten years later how little has changed. We have moved our relationship back to being more open with safe sex being paramount. We have both changed jobs and we eventually tired of fish pie and roast potatoes. I still haven't met my children but it hurts a little less.

Reading the article again in 2004, 15 years after it was written, the partnership is still going strong.and we will celebrate 24 years as partners in November. I still have not managed to meet my children after 25 years.


Many years ago I worked as a sales assistant in a shop. The Manager's wife worked as a hairdresser and often dropped into the shop during her lunch breaks. Over her cup of tea and sandwich she would fill us in on the latest gossip about her customers and more interestingly the loves and lives of her staff.

She had one member of her staff who went under the name of Maurice who it seems shared a house with Johnathon. These two were it seems 'nice boys' if you know what I mean. They lived as photocopies of a married couple with Maurice worrying about the colours for the new curtains and Johnathon fixing the blocked drain. They provided endless anecdotes for us all to enjoy and laugh at. The only problem was that while I joined in the laughter on the outside, on the inside I was bewildered.

Part of the bewilderment was the fact that I knew that living with another man was something I would dearly like to do. Living with a man who acted as a woman was something I did not want to do. I did, however, admire the couple concerned in as much as they were living together at a time when homosexuality was still illegal and the penalty was a prison sentence. I had never dared reveal how I was feeling to anyone and the thought that these two could share their togetherness with others made me feel that they must be very brave. 

Next year I celebrate the tenth year of living together with my male partner. The years leading to that celebration have been full of agonising decisions but at this stage in my life I am happier than I have ever been and proud of the way I live. I am also proud of the fact that I now know that there are throughout the world countless numbers of other men living happily in partnerships with other men. They also, for the most part, live in relationships which are not copies of a marriage but which follow widely varying patterns but which all have love of the other person at their heart.

Looking back I am sure that even Maurice and Jonathon probably due to the social pressure of the time put out a false picture of their relationship and in reality they did not copy the man and wife stereotype those around them expected. 

As to myself, at fifty years old I probably represent many of my age who hid away in their early years and plucked up the courage to come out later in life. Like many, I did in fact marry and have children. The idea that Gay men do not have children is one of the many myths surrounding the whole field of sexuality. From my experiences I would say that it is far more common than most people believe and not all the Gay men of my generation have in fact come out and large numbers are still 'respectable married men'

Even today, Gay men are marrying. They marry for career reasons, because of family pressures, because of fear of the consequences of accepting their sexuality and for many other reasons. Gay men are still second class citizens having some aspects of the law still against them, Politicians using them as objects of scorn and tabloid newspapers hounding those who may be in the public eye. Religions for all their preaching about tolerance and brotherly love, have a blind eye when it comes to men wishing to live together although among the priesthood of most religions, gay men abound. Perhaps their own inability to be open about their feelings causes them to direct their internal anger against their brothers. Certainly Physcologists are now accepting this explanation of homophobia.

I have gradually come out in my workplace for example. I have never pushed the matter but I have never denied my sexuality or the fact that I live with another man. It does not cause any problems and it is not any great cause for discussion. My partner comes to social occasions at work and it is interesting that several other same sex partnerships have come into the open.

What is interesting about the work situation is that many people have said to me that knowing me and knowing how I live has changed many of their opinions. Many have admitted to being prejudiced and holding stereotypical views both of gay men and their relationships. Maurice and Jonathon live on in the public's mind ! I feel that just as the vast majority of any group of people who live respectable lives are let down by the activities of the minority so too are gay people. 

The fear that the lives of gay men may be found acceptable is,, I feel the reason for clause 28. Those who fear homosexuality want the stereotypical images to remain in the public's mind. 

There is a new generation of young gay people growing up who have not known the threat of prison. They know that there are some restrictions on them by the law and many campaign and fight to get such laws changed. It is heartening to see so many take part in the Gay pride marches held all over the world every year and by doing so show the public that they are here and are not going to go away. While there is nothing to condemn in the enjoyment of sexual experiences with many partners, AID's has focussed people's minds both straight and gay on different kinds of relationships. I know that behaviour has changed and partnerships are much more common than they were or at least much more openly admitted to !

So what is a partnership of two men like seen from the inside ? As I said earlier there is no rigid pattern as there is with a marriage. First there are no legal ties although as a partnership developes various things happen which do create legal agreements by default. The purchase of a property is one and we decided early on that this was a wise move. Having just come out of a divorce in which my sexuality was an issue, I of course lost almost everything I had worked for, the law being as it is and the judiciary being as partial as they are.

We approached a building society and had no trouble getting a joint mortgage on a small flat. We were lucky that building societies were just beginning to come off their clouds and come into the real world. Although we had no money and no furniture, some gay friends rallied round and we soon possessed a bed a settee and a few other bits and pieces. Ten years later we still live in the same flat although it is now much more comfortable and more like a home.

From the word go we set up a joint bank account to deal with the financial side of the partnership. No trouble here with the bank and we still have the same account. Money has never provided any hassles between us and although we do have our own separate financial arrangements as well as the joint account we don't operate a strict control on how much each of us spends on things for every day living.

We have also saved hard and have reached a point where we have been able to enjoy holidays abroad, dinners out and other pleasures which ten years earlier would have seemed quite impossible. When we have gone abroad, we normally have used ordinary package tour companies booking together and sharing a room with no problems. It is obvious that some fellow travellers recognise us for what we are but it has never caused difficulties. It is also obvious that many other gay couples use such travel firms !

Abroad we enjoy visiting gay bars and clubs and this is one of the benefits we have over our straight friends who seem to not want to mix with travellers from other countries or the local people. 

Restaurants in this country have never given any problem and while there are gay restaurants we never use them. We do use Gay pubs because most of our social contact is with other Gay people and it is possible to relax in such places in a way which is impossible in straight venues. Gay pubs are well run and trouble of any kind is very rare. I often contrast the well behaved cliental with some of the characters I see rolling out of straight pubs at closing time. 

Families can be a problem for gay partners. My parents are dead but my brother and sister both know the situation and are supportive. My partner has a lot of pressure on him to marry although his family know he is gay. Some of his relatives are supportive and very relaxed about our relationship. Others say little. Most of his relatives have either stayed at the flat or eaten here and even among the less enthusiastic I feel that there is a slow acceptance. We do make it easier for them by having on the surface two separate bedrooms for ourselves which makes it possible for them to avoid thinking about sexual matters and see only a close friendship.

We do have a small network of gay friends built up over the years but because of the nature of our work which involves some unsocial hours the friendships are not as developed as we would like. A recent change of job by my partner will we hope improve this.

On the food front we eat well. Both of us cook and we eat mostly freshly cooked food with only the occasional take away. We buy plenty of fresh vegetables, milk, eggs, cheese and poultry. We eat very little red meat and do enjoy vegetarian food two or three times a week. We are lucky to have a large kitchen and we make the most of it. While this article is being written, a fish pie is cooking in the oven along with roast potatoes ! 

We do all our own washing and ironing and for the first five years this meant washing in the sink or in a bucket because we had no washing machine. Today we enjoy the luxury of a cheap automatic washing machine which has saved us hours of work. Ironing is a chore but it gets done once a week. Cleaning the flat is a once a week operation shared on a sunday morning. The flat has a lived in quality and we like it that way. It is reasonably tidy and reasonably clean but anyone expecting a flat shared by two gay men to be tidy to a point of fussiness had better think again. On the other hand it is probably better kept than a similar flat shared by two straight men would be or is that my prejudices showing ? 

Evenings are passed watching T.V., talking, going out for a walk, going for a drink, going to the cinema or having a meal out. All very everyday sort of activities. Weekends we enjoy going to the West End, walking in Hyde park. feeding the ducks in Richmond park or just sitting in the sun. We have a very small garden which is paved with a few nice bushes and plants where we can sit out on a sunny day.

We don't spend lot on luxuries. Most of our food shopping is done in local small shops. We rarely drink at home and don't spend a lot on clothes although we do look after the clothes we have. We do our own decorating as and when we feel like it and we can cope with most home maintainance jobs.The car goes with my job so I don't have to worry about repairs leaving them to the garage when needed.

My one luxury is a home computer which I use a lot for work and to tackle the task of making a permanent record of letters which my parents wrote to each other during the war. I also write letters to anyone who attacks gay people in newspapers.

The relationship between myself and my partner is very stable. In the early years we did have an open relationship but we have always talked a lot and five years ago we opted for an exclusive relationship mainly on practical grounds but also because I had probably worked out of my system years of being deprived of the sexual contact which I wanted. The ability to make changes in a relationship is I feel vital and it is the way to ensure that it will last. I am sure that what we have will last and that is not wishful thinking. Perhaps because I worked hard to sustain a marriage for many years, I have the experience to sustain a different kind of relationship. My partner has never married and this is his first long term relationship but he is as committed as I am to it's long term future.

We talk sometimes about children and how it would be good to bring up a child. I think it would have been quite possible to do earlier on in the relationship but it would now involve so many changes that it would be more difficult. I believe that many same sex couples would make excellent parents and the difficulties would be created by society, not the fact that the couple are of the same sex. In the meantime my partner has several nieces and nephews and he was bought up in a large family with several younger members so he has known the pleasures young children can bring.

My own children are now in their late teens and due to the attitude of their mother I do not see them although my daughter writes. I am often told that I should have fought hard to keep in contact but in the face of the opposition of my ex wife, I settled for losing them rather than have them in the centre of constant battles. This is the one area of my life which can still reduce me to tears and about which I find it hard to talk to anyone. I just hope that one day they will be curious and try to make contact in some way. 

The future ? Who knows ? I hope the partnership will thrive and prosper. I see no reason for it not to do so. There are no dark clouds looming but nothing in life is ever one hundred percent certain. 

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