Neil Allard and Andrew Wale

A Change For Good

History was made when Andrew Wale and Neil Allard were married in March and they hope it will spark a change in society’s attitude

Interview by Daniel White

“I now pronounce you legally married”

As the words left the lips of registrar Trevor Love, the Royal Pavilion’s Music Room erupted into a joyous celebration of relief.

After years of abuse, discrimination and suffering directed towards same-sex couples, while not forgotten, this day saw the start of a new, brighter, chapter.

“It was much more than merely congratulating us,” begins Andrew Wale. “There was a general sense of relief and joy from the whole room, it was a little overwhelming, but something good had happened and now we could move on.”

Andrew and his husband, Neil Allard, became the first same-sex couple to be wed in Brighton in the early hours of March 29th, a marriage that sent a statement across the country and beyond.

“There has been, and continues to be, so much pain, violence and anguish associated with LGBT history and rights,” explains Andrew. “I think everyone was extremely happy that this change for the better had taken place.”

Following their wedding, a celebration began to take place in the Pavilion Gardens, with a jubilant sense of equality rampant throughout.

“When we came out of the Pavilion, we were greeted by the cheers of hundreds of people who had gathered outside,” smiles Andrew. “They were so happy and excited that this day had finally come. So many people, many of them young and very emotional, thanked us for doing it so publicly. They said it would make a positive difference to their lives; we couldn’t hope for more.”

The campaign to change marriage laws had been a long running one, which built a distinction between society that made many same-sex couples feel like second-class citizens and, following their wedding, Andrew and Neil felt a change.

“Waking up the next morning, we actually agreed that we felt different,” Andrew reflects. “We felt stronger, safer; slightly less like outsiders. Of course, we always have and always will rely on each other, but it was a good feeling to feel more a part of society, even though that feeling can never be complete for us.”

While it was the first same-sex wedding to ever take in Brighton, it was also the first wedding to take place in the Royal Pavilion’s Music Room and the couple couldn’t be happier to have held their wedding in the city of Brighton.

“We are, of course, very proud to have had the opportunity to be representative of a change for good,” Andrew says. “To have done that in our home town, with the support and good wishes of so many people around us was fantastic.

Brighton and Hove, though not perfect, is a wonderful, vibrant and inclusive city to live in. We hope to be here for many years to come, and to enjoy everything our community has to offer.”