When my friend Mandy asked me to be Breast Man at her wedding, I squealed. Then I stopped, confused. A new term. What does it mean, to be…’Breast Man’? I wouldn’t have to get them out would I? Hang on – DO I LOOK LIKE A DUDE WITH BOOBS STUCK ON?? What does it even mean to be married? I’m not sure, having got it wrong already. In and out of it within a year and wondering how it even got that far. I am no model of matrimonial sagacity, but I am pretty sure, as in all things, that Love helps.
It was one of these nice easy-going weddings where you’re not expected to spend a fortune fitting in with someone’s ‘theme’. It was to take place at Brighton Pavilion, with a low-key reception at something called The Earthship, an eco-joint deep in a nearby country park.
It has always seemed to me that the best weddings are not those which demand things of people, but which inspire them to give something more meaningful; their thought. To me, this was what being Mandy’s Breast Man was; giving thought in the best way I could – nice words. That’s all I had to offer, being so far away during her manic preparations: a speech.
Suddenly, after a year of anticipation, the wedding was upon us and I was bound for Brighton.
The Pavilion glistened in the October sun, and the famous domed turrets seemed like the conical Madonna breasts of a new bride reclining in the grass. I reflected on how amazing it was that we were even here in the first place, celebrating the marriage of two women in love. It’s such a new thing – to have the courage to be openly gay. The culture and vibrancy has been there all the time, but had to be kept secret – or certainly quiet, in corners – and here I was with a bride in a top hat being driven by two glorious homosexuals, one in a chauffeur’s uniform bibbing at traffic and waving like the queen, and one dressed as Baby Spice gone bad. The pavilion was built as a testament to love by a king for his queen, a regency palace of splendour – and here we were squealing outside it really loudly. In fishnets.
The wedding was beautiful. I’ve never seen faces so lit up by love as those of Mandy and Debbie – and naturally those ruddy lesbians made me completely ruin my sodding make-up.
I was bricking it about the speech. I would have read The Owl & The Pussycat or something if the public raping of Edward Lear hadn’t been something I had inwardly screamed at so often at other nuptials. No, I couldn’t maul someone else’s words, I’d have to bleat out my own. And once it was out of the way, and I’d got a high-five from a very straight-speaking drag-queen, I knew I’d done alright. I could relax. The job was done. I could join in the fun going on around me like a saucy carousel.
It’s quite a picture, you know – a lesbian wedding. I’m sure most of the guests this refers to wouldn’t mind me suggesting that they had ’embraced their male side’. That is, the emblematic nods to the traditional male. Short hair, suits, little or no make-up in some cases. This is vaguely misleading, as though there were no lesbians in frocks, or lesbians who didn’t (shock horror) look like lesbians. There were loads of these too, but I find the masculine ones more fascinating.
I was why-curious. Why, if they aren’t attracted to men, are there so many ladies seeking to look like them, in relationships with other ladies who look similar? Is it escape from the perceived weakness of femininity; is it an emulation of power? Is it a revolution against patriarchy by taking ‘maleness’ over and making it their own? Is this, even, just a cultural phase? If open lesbianism is, in terms of freedom, in its infancy – having spent countless centuries as clandestine encounters, love to be ashamed of, only peeking out occasionally from under the covers in permitted sapphic flourishes designed for the titillation of men – are lesbians then just…teething? Chewing on the freedom of it all like a rusk until their adult teeth have formed? Feminists don’t feel the need to wear stiff polo-necks and tut at lipstick anymore. Perhaps lesbians will soften their guard in time too, when it’s all lost that air of brave novelty.
Perhaps I am a naive ignoramus and missing something more subtle. I might have spoken to them about it in more detail had I the nous of a BBC corespondent and not been so rangooned on table wine.
But one thing was clear by the end of the day. That I know what it means to be married. It means whatever you want it to mean. That’s the freedom we have now. Love is free, free is love.