Sunday, 15 March 2020

Thought Picnic: My life really does include my partner


Coming out without fear
I find myself returning to the theme of living your own truth in terms of the things you choose to do in your life and your relationships. I have many times celebrated the coming out of people whilst also touching on other broader topics of discussion on sexuality and expression, as the references show.
The most recent coming out event was by Philip Schofield about whom I have written an extensive but unpublished blog, because the fire of my inspiration was first snuffed out and then, the season for its revelation passed. A few days ago, I could have completed the blog, but the whole exercise felt mechanical than inspired. It might yet be published because there are issues, I discuss at length in it, I have persuaded myself it would have a longer than usual incubation.
Gospels in sound and vision
Having retrieved my audio Bible collection from some old hard disks at the beginning of the week and uploaded them to the cloud, as I was seeking something to watch on my Amazon Fire TV Stick, I happened upon the dramatized Gospel of John which I watched on Amazon Prime, but it is available on YouTube too. [The Gospel of John – YouTube]
As it transpired, I then watched The Gospel of Matthew and a not particularly dramatic The Gospel of Mark on YouTube. Next was the complete reading without an interval of The Gospel of Mark at the St Paul’s Cathedral by Peter Suchet of Agatha Christie’s Poirot fame, his opening remarks before his reading got me. [The Gospel According to Mark read by David Suchet - YouTube]
My life includes my partner
He was dedicating his reading for which he was receiving no remuneration to a friend who had recently passed on, Alec McCowen who died at 91 a few months before. As I am wont to do, I immediately conducted a search to appreciate this new piece of information. I did not know the actor who appeared to have a large body of work, and was well respected in the acting community that he was honoured with a memorial service at St. Paul's Church in Covent Garden (known as "the actors' church"). This according to the Wikipedia entry to his name.
The part to living your own truth that appealed to me out of Alec McCowen’s biography was that he had a partner Geoffrey Burridge who he lost to complications due to AIDS in 1987. In 1989, he was surprised with an appearance on This Is Your Life with the consideration that he had refused to be featured on the show if his partner of many years was not acknowledged. The dissatisfaction was assuaged with voice-over in the closing titles making the relationship known.
Living your truth regardless
I can say coming out in the UK in the 1980s was sensational news, acknowledging a sexuality outside the heteronormative construct could very well end careers, though there were many personalities who were ready to walk that difficult road when others stayed in the closet or contracted lavender marriages. To acknowledge your partner died of AIDS at a time when effective treatments were still being trialled but not definitely known to be as efficacious probably opened you to unmitigated stigma and discrimination.
Alec McCowen was not going to let the memory of his partner die away just because he was being given a public platform on national television to showcase his life and his achievements. This is where he earns my utmost respect, even though I am only finding out about him 3 years after his death.
My life really includes my partner
In my view, the people we share life with must always have a say in things that pertain to us, in our presence, in our absence, and in our passing. My relationship with Brian Jenkins is developing, he is my boyfriend, my partner, my companion, and my lover. My planning, thinking and decisions are done with consideration to consulting him, understanding how it affects him and obviously how it affects us.
We have been going out together for over a year and we hope to progress this to a formal partnership at the right time. When in South Africa, he is my next of kin and as he gets introduced to my wider family, friends and acquaintances, his prominence in my life and my affairs should be without dispute along with his primacy and involvement in matters that concern me.
I would expect as a consequence that my achievements along with my love life are fully acknowledged without hesitation, because that would be the heart of the matter or it has no heart at all and it isn’t my story being told.
Like Alec McCowen, I hope for a good innings and if I do end up with a Wikipedia page, the option for Partner: must be filled in, and it is Brian Jenkins. Thank you, Brian, for making me a very happy guy.


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