Love is in the air as Valentine’s Day draws ever closer. The empty shelves of post-Christmas and post-sales shopping have been filled with rosy red pleasantries, boxes of indulgent truffles, delicate red roses and cards making declarations of ever lasting love. But there’s something about the commercialisation of love at Valentine’s which has always slightly unnerved me. Yes, it’s a chance to remind your loved one that your cherish them, but isn’t there something contrived about telling them this only when a card shop tells you to?
For these two Norms however, there is no need for a card, a box of chocolates or a bouquet of flowers to demonstrate their true bond of love and affection – a simple, heartfelt kiss will do, here shared in front of one of the most iconic buildings of Paris’ 4th arrondissement, the Hotel de Ville. On holiday from London and staying in the Marais (which also hosts Paris’ gay district), these Norms also have something else to celebrate this year asides from their own love – the British Parliament has just voted by overwhelming majority to give same-sex couples the right to marry.
In doing so, Parliament have not made a statement about faith or religion, nor attempted to widen the extents of religious marriage beyond the bounds with which the church is comfortable. Rather, they have recognised, quite simply, that for both men and women who love those of their own sex, being gay is not a choice made or a lifestyle favoured, but who they are, and how they were born. Why then should gay men, women (and Norms) not be afforded the equal opportunity to marry when they, like heterosexual couples, find themselves in a relationship so strong and so loving that they want to devote themselves to that person for the rest of their lives?
So this Valentine’s day, even if you do not have a loved one with whom to share a Valentine’s day kiss, take some time to consider the enhanced rights which have been afforded to gay men, women (and Norms) all over the UK. Finally, like their heterosexual counterparts, they have been given the opportunity to validate their love in marriage like everyone else.
And for those eagle-eyed art lovers amongst you, you may recognise the scene which these two Norms now recreate. It is, of course, based on the famous photograph, Le Baiser de l’Hotel de Ville, by celebrated French photographer Robert Doisneau. Last Valentine’s I recreated another of his famous kiss photographs from the 1950s on canvas, in Norm-style. Here is that painting, and the Doisneau’s originals.
Happy Valentine’s day to all and everyone, especially those celebrating the manifestation of an equal right to love and marry, at last.