Love in Black and White

Love in Black and White

by Gerry Coughlan
February/March 2003

It’s hard enough to be in a relationship these days without choosing to make it more difficult. What am I on about? Well, what happens when you find yourself head over heels in love with someone who, in recent history, could have resulted in you both spending some time locked up at the State’s expense?

Still need to spell it out for you? Well, I’m talking about mixed couples or as they call it in the US, interracial relationships. You know, usually young and good-looking and in your face, more and more, at the shopping malls, cinemas or clubs.

I grew up in Ireland; my family emigrated here in 1976. In a brilliant piece of timing that could only be an Irish joke, we arrived in February 1976 to escape the Troubles in Ireland and were “surprised” when in June 1976 the Land of Milk and Honey boiled over. I still had to finish 2 years of school so in those days of compulsory Afrikaans for all, I was more concerned about Vlot Afrikaans and Bart Nel.

Libbey and Gerry
Libbey and Gerry

I first saw Libbey a few years ago at work. She had popped by to visit a collegue and I thought she looked lovely. I was told she was “taken” and to put my hormones away. Two years ago, she was not so taken and my collegue decided she would like to play matchmaker so we went out in a group to see if we got on. One thing led to another and we did find that we connected.

There was a spark and before we discovered our special love, we found a wonderful communication which helped us get to know each other. > > So, I am engaged to a black woman – actually in terms of old classifications used here, in the bad old days of Apartheid, she is coloured – of mixed race – but dark. We have been dating for 2 years and are getting married early next year (Jan 5) and plan on having children.

Given SA’s recent history we have a long way to go before we don’t get stared at in the street and shopping malls.

More and more, we are pleasantly surprised by positive comments from people. We’re not looking for approval but hey, a shopping trip or going to a movie can be somewhat spoilt when you turn out to be the floor show.

As far as we are concerned, we are in love and more so than we have ever been in our lives. We feel honoured to have met each other and share our life and love with appreciation and humility. We are not particularly “policital” in our lives but certainly aware of the history in our country (I am a SA citizen now). I guess what I’m trying to say is that our relationship has always been about us and our feelings for each other and is not some sort of statement.

In fact, given SA’s history: we fell in love in spite of the fact that we were from different backgrounds and cultures. Our families and friends are very supportive.

Before Libbey came into my life I was a divorced single parent of a wonderful daughter (Jade) who is now 18 and I had resigned myself to being alone for ever. In fact for 7 years I committed myself to bringing her up correctly and never made time for myself. I feared rejection and “getting it wrong” again. This relationship started as Jade completed her last year of school.

Thanks to Libbey I have discovered real love and look forward to the rest of my life with the most beautiful, special person I have ever known. She is a strong independant woman who is not scared to show her true feelings and to be on the receiving end of that love every day of my life is something I will treasure and never take for granted. Not a day goes by when I don’t thank God that we met and that Libbey was open to taking a chance on an older white guy who had a bit if baggage… she took the time to look a little deeper and found the real me; someone who could freely give the same sort of special, unconditional love he was receiving.

Gerry Coughlan can be reached via email by clicking here.

Copyright © 2002 Gerry Coughlan. All rights reserved.

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