This post relates to the video, ‘this is our year.’ I uploaded on to Vimeo earlier this month here. You can follow Joe & Will on Twitter also (@itsjoemcd & @willrackham) x
My name is Joe, I’m 24 years old, I live in London and work in the not-as-glamorous-as-you’d-expect TV industry. I met my boyfriend of 18 months, Will, through working on the same TV show. We’re a close couple, and we try to spend as much time with each other as we can.
We both have similar tastes in pretty much everything, with only the rare differing opinion when it comes to condiment choice! (Ketchup vs Mayo)
Last year for Christmas, among other gifts, I bought Will a diary. Inside it I wrote dozens of memorable dates from our time together, so he could look through them as they year went on and remember some of the “firsts” we shared. First date, first meeting of the parents, first trip away etc. This year I was keen to be creative again for Christmas and make him a video of moments we’d shared earlier this year, when we went on a weekend break to Manchester Pride in August.
When I told him I was bringing a video camera with us on the trip, I think he was a but dubious at first but I told him I had plans to make a video and he got involved, and to be honest, he’s a little bit of a natural with a camera anyway, so it didn’t take him long to get in to it.
Move forward a few months, to when I edited the video. I always knew it was something I wanted to make for him for part of his Christmas gifts. So I looked through the footage we’d shot and found the bits I thought were a good selection of our trip to Manchester.
Will and I have always had a number of songs, as I think most relationships do, that mean something to us. One of our first and most poignant is “The Only Exception” by Paramore, so when making the video I decided to fit the footage in around that track.
I only spent an hour or so making the video in iMovie. It was never meant to be a masterpiece and was definitely never meant to be shown to an audience of thousands around the world. As many people have commented, the sound mixing on the video isn’t particularly great, people have been disappointed that in parts of the video they’ve not been able to hear the dialogue between Will and I - for me, I never thought to make speech any clearer or reduce the impact of the track because for the intended audience - in other words, Will & I - we had shared memories of what we were either talking about in those scenes, and so hearing the words of the song for me were more important.
When I showed the video to Will. He loved it, I wanted to wait until we exchanged our gifts properly but I was too excited to show him and he was excited to watch it. So I sat him down on my bed, switched the lights off cinema-style and played it to him, glancing over for a positive reaction every now and then. He really liked it and after thanking me, I decided to upload it to Vimeo and give him a private link to it, so he could watch it on his iPad or iPhone over Christmas while we were both away from each other.
As many of you will know now though, that link wasn’t so private after all. I’ve never uploaded a video to Vimeo before, however I selected the correct privacy settings but actually didn’t submit/save them successfully.
Will stayed over that night, and I went to work the next day for the last time before Christmas. Will and I don’t currently live together but Will spends most nights at my flat. This week, as we had both finished for Christmas and because we’d been working so hard recently and not seen each other as much, we agreed to spend the week together celebrating Christmas before we both went our separate ways to spend Christmas with our families.
That night, Will met me after work and we decided to go to Winter Wonderland - a huge Christmas pop-up theme park with rides and festive markets. We had a great night and ironically, took along the video camera as Will wanted us to film more stuff so we could make a video of our Christmas. All this was before we had discovered that the “This is Our Year” video I had made Will had gone not only public, but viral.
That night, when we got back to my flat, I was checking my emails on my phone and saw a couple of notifications from Vimeo informing me that there were comments on my video. I thought, “That’s strange, it’s private.” I walked over to Will who was watching TV and said: “Baby… Don’t be mad at me, but…” and explained that comments had been made on the video.
"What have you done!" he said, with a bit of a chuckle. We went to my room to have a look on my Mac at the comments on the Vimeo website when we then saw that there had been over 20,000 views. I wanted to be sick, my stomach sank. All I could think was: "Oh god, Will’s not been out that long and everyone’s going to see it and he’s going to kill me." I was panicking. I took it offline immediately, so Will and I could discuss it and so we could look through the coverage online on blogs and social networks.
The comments and reaction were overwhelmingly sweet. We were initially confused why the video had resonated with people. Sure, we both liked it, but it was special to us - we couldn’t work out how it was making sense or appealing to anyone else?
We left it private for pretty much all of the following day, until we realised it had been duplicated and republished on to YouTube. Again, still panicking slightly that the world could see video of us passionately kissing, we submitted a Privacy takedown request with YouTube, who took the copy down after 48 hours.
After reading messages sent to me from members of Vimeo and reading through some of the lovely messages and comments with Will, we agreed on a compromise.
I remember saying to Will something along the lines of: “If we keep it down, duplicates are just going to keep popping up and we won’t have any control of this. Shall we just take a deep breath and embrace it? Everything everyone has said has been really positive. This video, although not intentional, has actually helped some people.”
It hit home to me how the video was appealing to others when someone described it as “the best unintentional-It Gets Better video ever.”
The penny dropped and I realised that although Will and I live in this bubble between us where we do these romantic things and don’t really think about how others would perceive us, there is a common misconception that gay men aren’t successful in relationships. This stigma that they all go out every night, get pissed, do drugs and sleep with strangers. This concept that gay men are inherently inadequate to maintain a loving relationship in the same way heterosexual couples do.
I think, speaking personally, a lot of gay men think that sexual orientation comes paired with a different lifestyle to suit. That if you are gay, you have to live a different type of lifestyle. I think Will and I have always been so compatible because we both want similar things from life, the same things most straight couples want - that idyllic happy life together, in a house we love, with friends and family we care for. The kind of life where we get more enjoyment from cuddling up on the sofa together watching the Modern Family box set, than we do dancing half naked in a sweaty nightclub drunk off our faces.
I should add, this isn’t a judgement, it’s more just our choice. I have plenty of friends who enjoy the latter and I love them for that - you have to choose what you find most enjoyable for you and your partner.
So to conclude, we’ve decided to keep the video online. We did edit it slightly to tone down a lengthy kissing scene, but nevertheless, it’s out there and we’re happy that our video, which started as a romantic gesture from one boyfriend to another, has now developed this added dimension to inspire some people, move others or just to make some people smile. If its taught me anything it’s that the world is clearly looking for more positive representations of a normal gay relationship, and that there’s still progress to be made to prove to the masses that gay or straight - love is love.