Andrew Wale and Neil Allard

A Level Playing Field

Andrew Wale and Neil Allard are set to make history as the first same-sex couple to get married in the UK this month and they spoke to Daniel White about the significance of the event

“Living in Brighton you walk around seeing young people behaving in the same way that straight young people behave, quite relaxed and natural and it’s those things that I think are most important.”

Andrew Wale spoke with a reverence unbeknown to many readers. For he and his partner, Neil Allard, the expression of love and attraction has not always been so easy.

However, March will see a historic and poignant moment in the country’s history, as Andrew and Neil become the country’s first same-sex couple to get married when they tie the knot at 12.01am on the 29th.

A panel, including members of the Brighton & Hove City Council Register Office, selected the couple from a wide variety of entrants and Andrew explained why it is important not just nationally but as a symbol internationally.

“It’s not very significant to us that it’s necessarily the first wedding but I’m very glad to be a part of it, I think it’s a really important step,” he explained. “It’s relative to what’s happening in other places in the world where they seem to be running backwards, so we’re very aware of how privileged we are.”

Brighton’s first ever civil ceremony was held in 2005 but, when asked if this event is more important for the country, Andrew was in no doubt.

He said: “Yes of course it is but it’s about perception rather than the difference. The difference between a civil partnership and a marriage is very small but the perception is something which I think is very important. Civil partnerships were always considered lesser than marriage so in a way I think this law does level the playing field a bit more, which is why we were waiting for it.”

The couple met just outside the Royal Pavilion Gardens so, fittingly, they were thrilled when they heard the wedding will take place in the Pavilion’s Music Room – another first for the city.

“It’s a mental place, I love it!” smiled Neil. “I think it’s fantastic, it’s an amazing building and I have always thought it was extraordinary. So it is really good, we’re really excited about it.”

Whilst Brighton is a much more cosmopolitan city than many others nationally, Andrew is hopeful the historic event will finally destroy the taboo of a same-sex relationships within the UK.

“When I think back to when I was younger and you’re going through those issues you don’t have any sense of a right to anything,” he explained. “You just think ‘OK well I can’t speak, I can’t do anything, I can’t have what I would like because that is the way the world is’.

“So I hope younger people are allowed to have that part of their lives more fully. It took me up to seven years ago to work out how to have a relationship that was really, really valuable but I feel like I’ve got it now.”