Monologues charting the UK gay experience. Steve anxiously prepares his wedding speech. But now the big day is here, what has been won and what has been lost?
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This programme contains some strong language.
When I was wee,
and we'd be out in the car and we'd pass a wedding,
a church or outside a registry office, my mum would, without fail,
slow down, roll down her window and shout out, "Don't do it, you mad fools!"
In retrospect, I think she was still processing her feelings about
the divorce, but we just thought it was funny.
Every time! Really funny.
Though not if you were a...
..reluctant bride with acute hearing.
Such incidents bred in me a suspicion,
a certain uncertainty towards marriage.
Towards making promises amid pomp and circumstance.
Towards institutions and the done thing.
What one ought and what one not.
Oh, my scepticism is a rich inheritance.
The family fortune from my mother's side.
But here I am...
..which is why I have to get this right.
Which starts with getting THIS right.
All those Jaffa Cakes inhaled for inspiration can't have died in vain.
HE CLEARS THROAT
Once upon a time, a plucky young man
went on an adventure miles from home.
In a magical kingdom in a far-away land,
he met a handsome prince who spent all his days bringing joy to
the lives of others.
One night, at a ball where all the beautiful people in the kingdom had gathered,
the handsome prince spoke to the man who was minding his own business
while desperately trying to get served at a bar where, yet again,
he had forgotten to take off his cloak of invisibility.
So kind was the prince that he bought the plucky young man a drink.
And so gracious was the man that he asked the prince to dance.
And the dance was so entrancing that everyone else in the room vanished.
The world stopped spinning and it was just the man and the prince in
each other's arms on top of the world...
..with only Lady Gaga for company.
Now THERE'S a threesome!
Pause for applause, wild applause, possibly some cheering.
Obviously, if I fill in a few details,
the magic of the story may pale,
as magic often does when you see its mechanics.
The adventure was a fortnight in Florida.
The ball was a club playing Bad Romance.
The plucky young man was...
And the prince wasn't a prince at all,
but another plucky young man on an adventure of his own.
That his adventure was working on a roller-coaster in a theme park gets
bonus OMG points in my mind,
but then I've always loved roller-coasters.
Real and emotional.
Lest you hadn't noticed.
Of course, this story isn't like the fairy tales I was raised on.
No horse-drawn pumpkins, way too many homosexuals.
I do have a story about three bears, but NSFAJ.
Not Suitable For Auntie Janice.
Nor anybody else, mind you.
No, people like me didn't feature in the stories I was told growing up.
Felt as if I didn't exist.
Even if there were characters like me,
they were Hall of Mirrors distortions that made me feel like
I didn't want to exist.
I had a go at ending my existence back then.
But I was as good at suicide as I was at physics,
so I lived and learnt.
It's painful to be invisible in other people's stories, but there is
a sliver of liberation.
You can tell your own story.
You can author your own life.
There's no script to stick to...
..which is fucking terrifying.
And quite exciting.
And fucking terrifying.
Not that scripts can't be quite useful.
For me and my people...
Oh, my God! My people?
For me and other gay people, we now have the opportunity, the right,
to have the fairy tale wedding that others have always had.
Even just for a day,
we can be handsome princes and/or/and beautiful princesses.
some of us will end up more Princess Margaret than Kate Middleton.
We, the gays, can now tell, out loud and proud, our stories.
And everyone - yes, even you,
Auntie Becky, who told me I was making my life difficult with my "choice"
to be gay...
..has a better life because of it.
Me having the right to get married doesn't take anything away from
anyone else. Rights aren't like cake.
Me having some doesn't mean you get less.
And speaking of cake...
Too wordy? Too wordy?
Too twee? Too angry? Am I angry?
Maybe I should start a fight.
Set fire to something.
Uncle Frank, perhaps.
Not only do they go around shoving their lifestyle down everyone's throats,
but they've also exhausted every aspect of getting married,
made every possible choice, and to a cliche!
And only now, when it's on its last legs, do they wheel in the gays for
a vital refresh after all this time.
Hardly any time at all.
Not just a big day, but monumental.
Part of me wants the formality and frivolity over and done with
so life can get back to "normal".
Another part of me wants to live in perpetual anticipation...
..in the thrall of the imminent thrill.
And another part of me wonders if it's a good idea at all.
Even in victory, you lose something.
The feeling of...
..being the rebel...
..the subversive, the outlaw.
I know! Never happy with what I've got.
I personally have no reservations, no nerves, no niggles,
no last-minute jitters,
no brief or lengthy reconsiders for the love before this one,
or for my first, or for the one that got away,
or the one that required an escape.
Not even for my great unrequited who might have...
..if I'd asked.
The answer to the proverbial question when popped was never going to be no.
It's at moments like this you realise, despite your best efforts,
you've still been indoctrinated with old-fashioned, romantic,
sentimental ideas of what love is and how it plays out.
I read it described once in a book
as having fairy tales stuck in your innards.
Love is a sentimental tapeworm.
Sometimes, I still can't believe I'm having a wedding.
Getting married's one thing, but a wedding? Ha-ha!
And a wedding of this size!
A wedding we technically cannot afford.
A wedding at which I'm already having an issue with the table decorations.
From Auntie Sheila. She normally buys them half-price in the January sales
for the following Christmas. Only, this year,
she decided my getting married was a special enough occasion
to get them out six months early. A special enough occasion!
And the fact that she's not sure she'll be around come Christmas,
..being what they are.
All I care about is they don't pull focus today.
The bowels, not the crackers.
These crackers were only from Asda.
But let's not get entangled in Auntie Sheila's innards.
Marriage - an institution for the insane to which you commit yourself voluntarily.
For those that won't commit or submit, those that can't,
won't or don't fit...
..there are other institutions.
Asylums and prisons, say.
In the end, we all find our place,
or are put in it. The kitchen, the bedroom, the attic, the cellar,
I read The Handmaid's Tale at school. It was very illuminating.
I loved school!
Well, I loved learning.
Could have done without the relentless bullying,
having the shit kicked out of me on a weekly basis.
And kids I didn't even know shouting across the playground at me,
"Die of Aids, you fucking poofter!"
Children - so adorable.
You can't really blame them.
Little pitchers. What gets poured in gets poured out.
And what got poured in then was Section 28, Tory family values,
the gay plague and EastBenders on the front of The Sun
because I was the danger, me!
I never felt that, of course.
I wish I'd felt dangerous.
What I felt was anxious.
Fearful, most of the time, forever poised for fight or flight.
Needing to read every room in an instant to assess the potential threats,
who the alphas were, who to avoid and who to make an ally.
the last one left standing, unpicked at PE,
the saddo sitting out the school disco slow dances because he
couldn't wrap his arms round the one he wanted,
the teenager looking for love
in pissy public toilets and parks after dark...
Perhaps everyone has their price...
..and maybe mine is measured in crockery and cookware on a John Lewis gift list.
Or maybe it's measured in love and loving,
from spoonfuls to right big buckets.
And what I learnt about love, first and foremost, I learnt from Liza.
Oh, my lovely mum, not Ms Minnelli.
There was this one time when I got really badly beaten up by Grant Smiley
at the swings and Mum went round to his house like a pocket tornado.
She ripped strips off Grant's mum and scared the bejesus out of him.
He steered well clear after that.
Smiley's not so smiley then.
Knights in shining armour come in all shapes and sizes.
Mine was five foot nothing in her stocking soles.
I remember Mum having to decide whether to buy a pint of milk or a loaf of bread
because we couldn't afford both...
..but I never remember having to choose between love and laughter.
We had both in abundance.
Some shouting, too, admittedly.
OK, a lot of shouting.
Some screaming even, maybe, occasionally.
When I told her that I'd met a man on holiday
and he worked in a theme park, she didn't bat an eyelid.
When I brought him home, she welcomed him with open arms and asked if, being an American,
he liked the Dixie Chicks.
And then she said it was typical Steven to win a man at a funfair
when most people make do with a goldfish.
But she's always been the witty one in our family.
Oh, which reminds me. Obviously, there's going to be an Oscar Wilde quote.
You can't have a gay wedding without an Oscar Wilde quote.
When I worked in a care home when I was at college,
there was an old blind man I read to sometimes.
He loved Oscar Wilde.
He even said he'd seen him once.
And that's how I know this quote.
"All women become like their mothers.
"That is their tragedy.
"No man does.
That's not my tragedy.
For better or for worse, mostly better,
I am totally turning into my mother.
And I'm fine with that.
Though I suspect she'll always be the better line dancer.
I could say, I suppose, that...
..today isn't about me, it's about her...
..about seeing my lovely mum so happy.
And that wouldn't entirely be a lie, but come on!
Let's face it!
Today's all about me.
Me and him.
But mostly me.
The man who, when we first met, smelled of candyfloss,
soap and everything will be all right.
Quite a heady combination.
My someone to dance round the kitchen with,
my someone to take photographs of,
someone to talk to all day and spoon with all night.
He loves my singing.
OK, totally hates my singing.
And he even likes my cooking.
He laughs at my jokes and he lets me cry.
He encourages me to be kind.
He makes me want to be a better man.
And the best view ever isn't Uluru, or Iguazu, the Taj Mahal,
the Grand Canyon, or even Edinburgh as seen from Arthur's Seat on
a clear autumn day with the Forth shimmering in the distance.
It's the nape of his neck when he's lying asleep in my arms.
I know we don't get happily ever afters in real life.
I'm a hopeless romantic, not a total fucking idiot.
As my friend, Russell, said to me once,
"Even with the happiest couples, one of you dies first."
..there is such...
We went to the supermarket yesterday and we were wandering around and,
at one point, he took my hand, because that's the kind of thing he does.
And instantly, I got flustered.
Remembrance of past battery.
Even though I know I'm hardly likely to get my head kicked in by the salad bar,
PDAs can still make me nervous.
And then he said,
gentle as anything, and I'm not going to do the accent...
"If there's a gay kid in here with his folks,
"frightened that he's a freak,
"don't you think that it might give him hope,
"seeing two guys wandering around,
"being themselves, getting their groceries, like everyone else?"
If happiness is a place...
..it's the biscuit aisle in Sainsbury's.
And anywhere else I am with him.
And when we met,
I'll never forget what he said when I introduced myself.
"Pleased to meet you, Steve. I'm Adam." And then, "And if that's the case,
"we should probably get married. Adam and Steve has a certain ring about it, don't you think?"
Oh, and now it has got a certain ring about it.
He liked it and he put a ring... Ooh, don't spoil it, Steven.
This is the beginning of a new chapter in my story...
..our story, that continues tomorrow
when we go back to where our tale began,
and I get to meet Adam's extended Orlando family which, funnily enough,
does include a giant and a couple of dwarves.
We may even stop off for a dance at the ball where the beautiful people are.
Sadly, they don't do glass slippers in my size, but then,
when did I ever leave a club before midnight?
Ladies and gentlemen...
..please raise your glasses to my...
..husband, the love of my life, Adam.
To our always and forever, till death do us part...
..as hopefully happily ever after as it gets.
I think it's better off the cuff.
From the heart. Oh, you can really overthink these things, can't you?
Steve, a groom-to-be, anxiously prepares his wedding speech. But now the big day is here, what has been won and what has been lost?