Thirty five years ago, as we were approaching our 10th anniversary, I decided I wanted to give Joe an unusual and unique gift. We both were avid readers of 'the Body Politic' which was the lgbt news magazine of the time and I thought that I'd like to put an ad in the paper wishing Joe a happy anniversary.
It wasn't as easy as it might seem.
When I approached them with the idea, by then I determined that I wanted to buy a fair sized ad, the request was met with some reservation. This was long before people rallied around the right for 'gay marriage' and there were some in the gay community that were actively hostile to the idea of marriage and who felt that gay people needed to redefine the nature of our relationships rather than simply 'aping' what heterosexual couples do.
Needless to say there was a lot of discussion about the ad and the politics behind it. I persevered and participated in the discussion not knowing if they would, in the end, publish the ad. I'm not sure who eventually made the decision that the ad would run, but the decision was finally made. When it came to the design, I wanted it stark and simple. There was a grey background and centred in the space were two lines of text, "Happy 10th Anniversary, Joe" and "From Dave".
When the issue came out I picked it up immediately, Joe and I were out having a beer in the gay bar that we frequented at the time, Buddies. I gave Joe the paper and watched for him to find the ad, he did, he loved it. Still one of the bests anniversary gifts that I'd given him.
Our anniversary is on June 29th. Given the length of time that we've been together, our anniversary pre-dates gay pride day which is now celebrated with some abandon. As it turns out that date is often the date where the world celebrates pride. This year World Pride happens in Toronto on our 45th anniversary.
Yesterday we received a call from someone we'd known many years ago, he told us about an article in Xtra magazine about the murals that were being painted around Church and Wellesley as part of preparations for World Pride. He then read to us about a mural that was based on research done by the artists. They'd gone through old Body Politic magazines looking for inspiration and found our anniversary ad. That gave them the inspiration for a mural.
So we looked around for and found an interview with the artists where they talk about the ad and their art. We've also left a comment on the Church Street Mural Project Facebook page. Our hope is to thank the artists for the coolest 45th anniversary present we could ever get.
What has been the nicest thing about all this is, of course, the remembering. Joe and I spent much of last night, after Walter's call, chatting about the ad and the times. We talked of Buddies and our hours spent there, of old friends long past and of a time where we were finding our own way, as a couple, through the various worlds in which we lived and moved.
Our anniversary approaches but we feel the celebration has already begun.