(Note: I asked Christopher to write something about his recent engagement after a lovely conversation we had. The true partnership between Christopher and Toni really is a beautiful thing, and the way they support and fuel each other creatively is especially heartening for other artists to witness. Toni has this to add: “I’m sitting here with a smile on my face and congratulating myself for asking you out in the first place!”)
I was very proud to have been asked to read a poem at the recent wedding of Kelly Keigwin and Sam MacKenzie. I am thrilled that these two amazing artists, who are so obviously devoted to one another, are now able to be legally married. I admire them for being proactive rather than waiting for the state to grant them what should legally be theirs: both women were very involved in the campaign to pass R-74.
I’m not a huge fan of marriage. As a happily divorced father, I know from experience that sometimes marriage can nearly destroy a person. In some cases, divorce is the best possible thing that can happen to all concerned, especially if there are children involved. The institution of marriage, which some have felt compelled to protect from those whom their religion instructs them to view as unnatural, is in shambles. However, recently I have come to change my mind about marriage.
Lesbian couples I know, such as my friends Sam and Kelly, and my cousin Jeannie and her wife, Steph, have been showing us straight couples what lifelong commitment is really all about. My fiancée, Toni, and I have been a couple for five and a half years. During that time, we have referred to each other as “partners.” We did this for two reasons: 1. We have endeavored to practice true partnership, which means that neither person dominates the other, emotionally, physically, or financially. 2. We wanted to show our solidarity with our queer brothers and sisters here in Vancouver and around the world.
Toni taught me that the form of love that I always dreamed of is indeed possible. Together we have built a strong partnership in which we remain in the moment, and discuss any issues that arise right away, before resentment can begin to build. Both of us have suffered in marriages in which our feelings were ignored or disregarded, and this is what allowed us to appreciate finally finding another person who values and appreciates us. In fact, I think that regularly expressing gratitude is one of the greatest secrets to a lasting relationship.
One of the greatest gifts that Toni has given me is to accept me as I am, with all my flaws. In fact, when one of us is down, or struggling, the other sees it as an opportunity to demonstrate support. I am very fortunate to have someone in my life who praises me when I accomplish one of my goals, and is willing to let me know when I have fallen short of being the kind of man I can be. Toni does both of these in the most loving and nurturing way that I can imagine. We share a trust that our partner has our best interests at heart. I end my very busy days knowing that she has my back, and that whatever happens, I can count on her to stand by me.
I wish Sam and Kelly, and all other newly married couples, many years of happiness and discovery. I thank my gay brothers and sisters everywhere for showing us how it’s done, and for making marriage cool again.