In a month’s time, France will finally hold its first same-sex wedding. Vincent and Bruno will be exchanging vows in Montpellier, a southern city known to homosexuals as the “French San Francisco” because of its thriving homosexual community.
The French couple is more than conscious of the public impact of their upcoming ceremony.
“We will make this wedding an occasion for everyone. It will be public, open to all activists, to heads of French and international (gay lobby) groups, to the press,” Vincent told AFP.
For France, it will be a highly mediatised symbol of changing social mores, won in the teeth of months of fierce — and sometimes violent — opposition from conservative groups and homophobic backlash.
Vincent Autin, a 40-year-old gay activist and boss of a Montpellier PR firm, and Bruno, a 29-year-old government worker who did not wish to have his last name published, have been together for more than five years.
“There will also be moments of love,” Vincent added quickly, to reassure Bruno.
The two men said that, as significant as the wedding would be, it was just one step towards a bigger goal: to start a family by adopting a child.
“The law will allow that, but we’re very aware that we won’t have the child we both want right away. Mentalities have to change. And of course the path to adoption is long, even for heterosexuals,” Vincent said.
Bruno, quieter than his partner, agreed. “Everything won’t get done from one day to the next.”
France’s move to join the 13 other countries who have already legalised same-sex marriages has run into determined protests, though the final parliamentary vote will take place on Tuesday. But with the legal change being a key manifesto pledge by President Francois Hollande, the opposition looked certain to fail.