‘We are changing marriage more than it’s changing us’: Britain’s first married gay couple speaks out

Interview by Ian Dunt

In Islington, at one minute past midnight on Friday evening, Peter McGraith and David Cabreza became one of the first gay couples to get married in Britain.

Here, Peter tells explores his own complex relationship with marriage and the message Britain is sending to the world.

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David Cameron's idea of us effectively gaining heterosexuality by marriage is not how it's going to be.

I think it's important for me to take up this chance for marriage, but I'm not uncritical of the institution. We are changing marriage more than it's changing us.

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My morality and politics were influenced by growing up thinking that what I am is feared, it's unnatural. So you find your way to the nearest conurbation, like London or Brighton. You get that emancipatory experience of sex, where you realise that sex, which can be so base, can also be a beautiful and empowering thing.

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I'm not giving up my gay card for the sake of being married. I find it much more comfortable being defined as a gay activist rather than a married man.

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As a gay man it feels you're on the outside of something. There's this episode of Sex and the City – which obviously was written by gay men – where all the women go to baby showers and they get upset that they're supposed to celebrate other people's relationships, but no-one is celebrating their identity as independent women. It's like that.

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I've got wonderful partner and two adopted children. We've been together a long time so it feels more like a silver wedding anniversary. I think religion owns too many of these markers in life. They take control of births, marriages and deaths. People who aren't religious struggle with these things without the Church to organise it all. But religion doesn't own marriage. People who aren't religious deserve to be able to mark stages in their life.

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Hetero marriage is complicated. It seems harsh to tell young heterosexuals to have overpriced marriages they can't afford and then treat each other badly for extra-marital sex or even flirtation. You never go to hetero weddings and see exes invited. Gay couples are more understanding about these things.

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Do I believe in monogamy? It's like saying do I believe in alcohol and tobacco. It exists. It's part of the real world. There's a great natural desire to want to have a one-to-one.

When I was in my early 30s and living my gay life, as it were, I wasn't just looking for sex. I was looking for a partner. Lots of us have a great drive towards love or affection. Personally it's important to me to have great companionship as well as great sex.

But we don't all need to have the same views in a relationship. We can't help to be different. There's great joy in finding someone different to yourself.

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Too many people go into marriage with someone else's set of expectations. There's this trend of writing your own vows. But it doesn't go deep. It's the same platitudes. It doesn't deal with the practicalities or whether that relationship ever hit any problems.

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We are very delighted to be marrying but I don't want to give the impression to the world that we are self-satisfied privileged types, drinking champagne and smiling for cameras. There's a big agenda of rights to be worked on. I feel solidarity with people in India and Russia who've seen reversals, or those in Nigeria and Iran who've been completely crushed by the regime.

There's an arbitrary privilege to being seen as the first. Some people will get called by people journalists and just say 'I'm delighted'. That's a wasted opportunity. I want people all over the world to have some little sign of hope from this, because actually I think things can move forward.