Forbidden love – love wins
When a couple fall in love but live in fear too. This brave couple prove, love wins
Guest blog post from Richard Montgomery
Chelsea and Nikita got engaged on 9th December 2018, at the Northern Ireland seaside resort of Castlerock, and asked me to take their engagement photos. We met in January, on a particularly windswept and dreary day.
The dreary day didn’t cause me too many concerns. I always make sure I and my equipment are wrapped up and protected from the rain, wind and cold. And I knew that the desolate weather could provide some interesting backdrops and lighting.
During the engagement shoot, I got chatting about the attitude to same sex relationships in Northern Ireland, and to their future wedding plans.
I was reminded that gay couples cannot get married in Northern Ireland, despite it being part of the United Kingdom.
Marriage or Civil partnership?
Legally, for Chelsea and Nikita, this means they must go somewhere else to get married. They can have a civil ceremony in Northern Ireland but are not able to get married there. Chelsea and Nikita are considering travelling to Southern Ireland to get married. Same-sex marriage was made legal there on 16 November 2015.
We also talked about homophobic discrimination in Northern Ireland, and the attitude to same-sex couples. Both Chelsea and Nikita feel that Northern Ireland is about 20 years behind England with regard to social attitudes to same-sex relationships. And both felt that the various churches had influence over the way they are treated.
Fear & Safety
The couple told me about where they feel ‘safe’, and where they expect to experience hostility because of their same-sex couple. In the bigger cities they feel that there is more acceptance and a more open attitude to them being a same-sex couple, but in other places including some big towns, there is a real feeling of fear and uneasiness. They both feel they are unable to show any public displays of affection because they have previously had disapproving looks and comments.
The reasons for the homophobic attitudes and behaviour can be discussed another time, but the impact on this young couple, and others like them is they can’t be open about their love for each other. They have to look over their shoulders if they are out together. They have to ignore the comments, the looks, the laughter.
They have to make the decision whether to hold each other’s hand when walking down the street, and put up with the fear of unfavourable comments, put up with the fear of violence, and the uncertainty of how they will be treated.
It seems strange that in this day and age, in part of the United Kingdom, this amount of bigotry and discrimination still exists.
Despite all these difficulties, Chelsea and Nikita are truly happy. Can you see that in their expressions?
Their love story? No different from many people. They met through a dating app, and had their first meeting in a car park, where they talked for hours, just getting to know each other. They are now living together, and are looking forward to a happy future, and are starting to plan their wedding.
Blog by Richard Montgomery – www.Richardwallacephotography.co.uk
Images courtesy of Richard Wallace Photography
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