Representing queer culture in a positive light is something I feel passionate about.

Homosexuality was criminalised in my home country of Ireland until 1993, and growing up images or depictions of homosexual love or queer lives was either absent or, later on thanks to American sitcoms and tv shows, strangely sanitised and only played for laughs.

With this project I wanted to find examples of homosexual long term relationships; a long term relationship was something that was seen as unlikely if not impossible for gay men to attempt or achieve in my youth, especially with gay marriage not being legal.

I put out a call for couples who had been together longer than two years and interviewed them about their relationship as well as shooting their portraits together.









01


Jordan and Luca


How long have you been together?

Luca: Seven years. But for homosexuals years are the same as for dogs. Each year counts as seven so technically we’ve been together for 42 years


How did you meet?


Luca: We met at Joiners! I was on a date with a guy that night and just at the end of the night when they switched on the lights I saw Jordan queueing for the toilet. I thought, “How the actual fuck didn’t I see that hot Briton until now???” So with an excuse I went to the toilet and I queued behind him.


Once I was in the toilet I just said to him very quickly and in my (at the time) broken English: “Look, I’m here with someone else, here is my number, take it and call me, have to go, call me.”

I spent the rest of the night with the other guy and the plan was to go home with that guy and have some nasty business, but Jordan texted me, “I’M IN LIVERPOOL STREET STATION NOW, COME AND SAY GOODBYE!”

I faked a vomit attack with the other guy and ran to Liverpool Station to meet him! I was wearing a kilt that night so everything was pretty easy to manage! And yes, I know, I was a total twat with the other guy!

Jordan: Yeah, we met in The Joiners Arms. I’d love to say our eyes met over a crowded room or I dropped my books at his feet or some other shit like that but the truth is I met him in a toilet.

I’d been to lesbian sex party (don’t ask) and ended up in east London where I saw this hot Italian with an ‘I love cock’ t-shirt and a kilt. He was with another guy but it was my birthday so I made sure I got what I wanted.


What is the key to a healthy modern gay relationship?

Luca: Respect. The old fashion respect! You are free to do anything you want in your life as long as you respect me whatever that means, you decide! But I think our secret is that we talk to each other a lot. We speak about our pasts, fears, issues and dreams. We always tell each other why we are happy and why we are sad. If we have a problem with each other we always make a point to talk. I have friends who tell me about some problems they have in their relationship and their boyfriends don’t know anything about it. How is that possible?

Jordan: Luca and I work together and have done so for five years purely because we share the same vision and the same interests, which I guess in our case is a lot to do with luck and finding the right person. I think with relationships, especially early on you have to allow them to become a bit uncomfortable, that’s usually the make or break point and I don’t think enough people see it through. I think we (as gays?!!) are partly infantilized because our culture allows us a Peter Pan sense of hedonism that isn’t totally geared up for problems that challenge our “freedom.”


Are you guys comfortable being affectionate in public?

Luca: I hate it. Not because I’m gay! Not because “I’m scared to show to people” and shit like that nothing to do with all that and no internal homophobia! I just hate hate hate that sweet stuffstraight, gay or whatever you are!

Have you ever experienced homophobia in public?
Jordan: Yeah, I grew up in South London and by the time I left school “faggot” was a badge of honour.

Luca: No, I have to admit I’m very lucky. I always lived my sexuality very freely and naturally how it’s supposed to be. I never think “I’m here, I’m queer.” If you ask me I tell you but I never found myself in a position where I had to justify myself for being gay or where my sexuality somehow compromised what I want to be or do.

If you met on an app are you honest about how you met when asked or do you feel embarrassed?
Jordan: There’s a misconception that apps aren’t real life. Apps like Grindr are very real and yes, they’re changing our culture. All these bi-curious guys are popping up like mushrooms because finally there’s a place for them to go, and I think that’s great.


Regarding monogamy: how did you guys decide what works best for you?

Luca: Respect again. If you cheat on me, tell me. I always say to Jordan that the thing I would hate the most is not that he cheated on me, but standing next the person he had sex with without knowing and him thinking how stupid I am. Not for pride but for the respect of our relationship. It takes time and effort to build a strong relationship.

We are not in an open relationship and we try our best to be faithful to each other. Everyone is free to do what they want and choose how they want their relationship to be, just as long as you have respect for yourself, your partner, and your relationship if it’s important for you.

02

Valentine and Niall



How long have you been together?

15 years.


Where/how did you meet?

We met in Heaven night club, I was visiting on holidays from Ireland. I lost Valentine’s phone number when I arrived back in I Ireland but luckily my best friend Robbie took it. I messaged him and he called me every day for 6 months after that. He had a huge phone bill. I like to talk! I moved to London that July and moved in with Valentine until I found my own place. 15 years later I’m still here!





02

What is the key to a healthy modern gay relationship?

Communication is key. I know it’s a cliché but it is true. We never have let a disagreement go without talking it through. Learning to listen is also a skill that is importantcommunication is a two-way street. Keeping the romance alive is important too. We still take time to show our love for each other in simple ways almost daily. Valentine is very thoughtful with this and still blows me away after all these years. Also, we encourage each other and support each other’s dreams. I think belief in your partner and encouraging them is important.


Have you ever experienced homophobia in public?


Actually, no, not as couple. I have found that people are often more accepting than we think.





03

Leo and Kit


How long have you been together?


Three years.


Where did you meet?


OkCupid!



What is the key to a healthy modern gay relationship?

Kit: Being in a relationship with a nice person. Also I think the closest thing to a key is being able to talk about your expectationsin terms of what you want from the relationship and from each other. Not necessarily those expectations being exactly the same, but being able to talk through how they differ and how to approach bridging that.

Leo: There is no identikit key to relationships and if there is, I don’t have it. Horses for courses. What I have with Kit works for me. I believe that my relationship with Kit has continued because: a) he’s a good and kind person; b) we get pissed off with one another in an instance and we know that’s not indicative of the relationship as a whole; c) we embrace honesty to the extent that if the conversation led to us breaking up, we would do that and be sad and know that we had never deceived one another. I think most relationships end because of deceit or the perception of deceit.