You Had Me at Hello: Christian & Clayton
Hot on the heels of their recent Civil Union, Christian Vella and Clayton Mercieca share memories from their special day with OurWedding, as well as what it means to them to be recognised as a couple by the State following the introduction of the Civil Unions Act.
A one-time virtual chat between Christian, a research and programme officer at the International Institute on Ageing, and Clayton, a manager in investment promotion at Malta Enterprise, quickly revealed that the two had lots in common. It wasn’t until a year later, however, when Christian returned to Malta after a year-long internship in the UK, that they bumped into each other at a party.
“Within weeks, we knew that what we had was real and we decided to introduce one another to our respective families,” they explain. “A year later, we decided to test our relationship and move in together, and just over a year after the introduction of the Civil Unions Act – and six-and-a-half years into our relationship – we decided to take it a step further and announce our plans to make our relationship official.”
Preparations for the ceremony and reception were contained and relatively straightforward. “We didn’t need a two-year countdown like most couples. Once we set the date, 26th June 2015, we booked the venue that we really wanted, Xara Palace in Mdina, an area that we frequented often in the early years of our relationship. The rest seemed to fall into place. We opted for classic suits from the latest Vintage Collection at The Groom, which perfectly captured the timeless theme we were after.”
Since their civil union, Christian and Clayton admit that their lives haven’t really changed, merely returned to reality, but they still consider the introduction of the Civil Unions Act to be a huge, positive step forward in recognising the gay identity, and – apart from making their relationship official – in providing a sense of security through the rights specified in the Act. “Should something happen to one of us, the other is seen as family, and not as a stranger, or simply a friend. Most importantly, however, is that couples who entered a civil union are now on equal ground with married heterosexual couples – it is as simple as enabling a couple to enjoy equal citizenship rights.”
Christian and Clayton conclude that not all couples feel confident to take the next step like they did, even if they are in a long, stable relationship, because they lack the family support that they need and seek. “It goes to show that there is need for further awareness – to spread the word that gay couples can live in harmony like all other couples.”