Tuesday, June 28

How we met: ‘He had girlfriends. Being gay hadn’t crossed my mind ‘| Have a date

SUBWAYArk was deeply unhappy when he started at the University of St Andrews in Scotland in 1967. He had grown up feeling conflicted about his sexuality, and although sex between two men had been decriminalized in England and Wales that summer, it was still illegal elsewhere from the country. UK, and attitudes towards gay people remained extremely hostile. “Sex education taught me that my feelings were abnormal. I was waiting for the phase to end, ”he says. In her first week, she met Andrew, who had moved from the United States to study. “We did not know each other well. I was on the fringes of my social group, ”says Mark, 71. Andrew found Mark attractive, but had never considered a relationship with another man. “He had been to a frat and had girlfriends. Being gay hadn’t really crossed my mind, ”he says.

After completing his undergraduate degree, Mark moved to London in 1972 and found work in the film industry. “I realized that my sexuality was nothing to be ashamed of and I told all of my friends,” he says. Andrew, 73, spent a year in Virginia after his studies, before moving to Edinburgh to complete a doctorate. By the early 1970s, he too had begun to explore his sexuality and was secretary at GaySoc University in Edinburgh. “Some friends told me that Mark was out. They said, ‘He’s done just about everything but put out a personal ad to tell everyone he’s a queer.’ In the fall of 1974, he called Mark. “I was going to dinner with a mutual friend, so I invited him to come over,” says Mark. “I saw Andrew on Shaftesbury Avenue and he looked totally different. He had shaved the Gilbert and Sullivan sideburns he had in college. ”

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Mark and Andrew in 1976.
Mark and Andrew in 1976. Photograph: Image provided by the reader

Later, Mark suggested that they all meet again, this time for dinner at his apartment. “I had told him he was gay, but when he wrote down the date of the dinner in the diary I realized that he was going to an event organized by the Campaign for Homosexual Equality, [one of the first campaigning organisations for gay rights,] And I realized that he was too. “Andrew felt a spark that night.” He was cute and funny. I just wanted to put my arms around him. “

When they dined at Mark’s flat, his friend suggested they get together. “We kissed when she went to the bathroom,” says Andrew. “We took her to Greenwich station after lunch and went straight back to Mark’s flat.” In December, Mark joined Andrew at a gay rights conference in Edinburgh. They continued their relationship, visiting regularly in London and Scotland. In the mid-70s, a man named David joined their relationship and they lived together as a threesome for four years. “You did that kind of thing in the 70s,” laughs Andrew. By 1980, they had moved into a house in South London, and Mark and Andrew were ready to live as a couple. David moved out, but they remained close friends.

Mark developed a career in cabaret and acting, while Andrew worked in health education. “While I was at the Royal College of Nursing in 1982, I became aware of a new disease that was affecting gay men,” he says. “I was able to access a lot of information about it.” Over the next decade, the couple lost many of their friends to AIDS, including David, who died in 1990. “We went to a lot of funerals and memorial services,” Andrew recalls. After David’s death, there was a battle in the high court to ensure that his wishes for a non-religious funeral were honored. This experience inspired Mark to become a magistrate, a position that began in 1995.

In 2003, Andrew became a British citizen and they had a civil partnership three years later. “He’s always been wonderfully supportive,” says Mark. “I can’t imagine being with anyone else.” For Andrew, Mark is the glue that holds everything together. “Asking who I love about him is a bit like asking what I love about life. The answer is all “.


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