I've taken the plunge, but can I admit it?

3rd August 2007 at 01:00
Blow up the (pink) balloons and pop the champagne: I got civilly partnered last weekend. It doesn't sound quite as important as it is, and yet there was a certain reluctance to slip back into "death do us part" wedding-type vows and using words like marriage.

Instead of promising to love, honour and obey, I honoured the brave gay and lesbian souls who campaigned so hard to give me not just security in life, but the right to live openly and without fear.

I spoke of the absolute fun I have had over the past 15 years: the hills climbed, the discos danced, the concerts clapped at. I spoke of the love between friends and the passion between lovers.

Our sons were there, and I thank mine for putting up with their wayward mum in the days when it wasn't so easy for them and for always standing up for me. It's made them better men and I'm proud of them and grateful.

I certainly didn't promise to obey anyone. But my beloved partner knows that, although I might argue the toss, she's usually right.

I think most of the staff at work are aware of my sexuality. The pupils who know don't seem to be bothered and I suppose I will have to decide how I answer kids who ask about the bright, shiny new ring I will be sporting.

Do I say I'm married? Do I say I'm C-P'd (horrible isn't it?) and explain what that means? Or do I just pretend I didn't hear?

Perhaps if when I went to school, gay and lesbian teachers had been able to be fully open and "out", then I'd have been able to understand about me and not, like thousands of others, married because I just hadn't realised what I really was.

But if that had been the case, then maybe I wouldn't have had my beloved boys. However, it would also have saved a great deal of misery on both sides of an unhappy marriage.

Magazines, TV programmes and celebrities are all very open about homosexuality these days, and I know there are teachers who do try hard to allow young people to explore the issues.

So, do I carry the torch for what I am and say "Yep"? Or do I shrink down and make up some excuse for what the ring is all about?

I'm ready for the question.

Penny Ward teaches at Carnoustie High in Angus

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