I remember seeing the man who is now my husband on our first day of high school. We were twelve.
He walked with a sort of jaunty lightness, and was looking around as though he was completely prepared to find everything he saw pleasing. I think the reason I remember him is because of his hair, a shock of dark red. As it happens, he was probably just walking gingerly to accommodate his bung knee and he didn’t actually find much to please him about high school, except his friends.
In October, we will have been married for six years.
Throughout history, redheads have been persecuted for their shamefully vibrant tresses. Ancient Greeks believed redheaded people became vampires when they died. In Ancient Egypt, redheads were burnt at the stake in worship of the god Osiris. In the Middle Ages, they were identified as witches, their red hair a red flag that signalled the presence of the devil within. They were killed, too. What a lark. Thankfully, over the last century or so, we’ve come to realise that red hair is really only symptomatic of one thing - the MC1R gene. Redheads have increased pheomelanin, a pigment in the skin. Red hair appears when people have two copies of a mutation in the MC1R, the melanocyte-stimulating hormone receptor, so their skin cells produce more pigment. SCIENCE.
My husband doesn’t remember being teased about his hair when he was a kid, and it’s now faded into a sandy sort of echo of the colour it was. In fact, it was really only when we lived in London that he became aware of red hair being a mock-able feature, from his colleagues and the sort of newspapers that were free on the Tube. All in all, he has not suffered from it, as an Australian child of the nineteen-eighties and nineties.
On that day when I first saw him, when we were twelve, I thought he was a beautiful human. There was just something immediately appealing about him. I find him beautiful now, too, though he’s a mite more haggard from parenting a toddler. The beauty I’m talking about is both aesthetic and intrinsic, and the way in which I see it rounds out and grows fuller with time. He finds me beautiful too, which is fortunate. And so, six years ago, we did what people who find each other beautiful in many ways often want to do – we got married. There was nothing stopping us, though there may have been, had we found each other in a different time.
My point is this: history will not treat us kindly when it looks back to this period of humanity in Australia. There are too many things happening that are so utterly lacking in humanity for that to be possible. Right now, for instance, there are people who find each other obscenely beautiful in a variety of ways who have been told that their government doesn’t have the decency to allow them to marry without wasting $122 million dollars and subjecting them and us and all of our kids to a cruel public wrangle over it. Maybe one day, future humans will feel ashamed about the ways in which we persecuted LGBTI people today.
For fuck’s sake. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and the heart of the beheld.
Love is love.
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