Picture this: Mardi Gras, 1996. The vibe before the parade is as upbeat as always, but this time, there’s also tension.
The nation has gone to the polls during the day and, as the floats lumber up Oxford Street, the first election results will start to drizzle in.
I’m standing on Flinders Street with a gaggle of friends, drinking cheap champagne and flirting with a couple of cute English boys.
We’re having a pretty lairy time, except for one of us -“ my unionist friend Andrew, who’s got one ear plugged into a transistor radio.
As the parade passes, in all its noisy glory, Andrew gets more and more depressed. He relays snippets of news on to the rest of us, each snippet worse than the one before.
For a crowd of lefty poofs, John Howard’s victory is bad news indeed.
Our newfound Pommie friends -“ themselves a pair of lefty poofs, Andy and Paul -“ cotton on to the collective mood, and soon they’re listening in on Andrew’s radio as well. The talk gets deeper.
Eventually, the parade dies in the arse, along with the Keating government -“ but after this much champagne has been sunk, our little group is in a bolshy, hilarious mood.
Before too long, we’re high-kicking our way to the Albury, and Andrew and Andy are snogging.
Thus it began. Over the next few weeks, Andrew showed Andy the full gamut of Mardi Gras hospitality (everything from Bondi Beach to bumsex), and their parting was a scene of some angst.
After that, things got tricky. The boys stayed in contact, missing each other but unsure whether their future was together.
About a year later, Andy returned for another holiday, and after some dithering, he and Andrew resumed their romance -“ but in earnest this time.
When Andy returned home, Andrew decided to follow him to London and give their relationship a shot.
They’ve been together ever since.
That would be the end of the story, except last week, my boyfriend and I received an invitation to their wedding. We desperately want to go -“ partly because the boys are our friends, and partly because weddings are always fun.
But for me, there’s another reason. When Andrew met Andy, that night in 1996, none of us could have predicted that in 10 years’ time, we would live in a world where boys could marry other boys.
But here we are: in some parts of the world, it’s a reality, and that fact alone is worth celebrating.