Tom and Malcolm
Married 2 Years
It was their first year of university at McGill. They happened to be in the same residence, a floor apart. Malcolm remembers the first day he saw Thomas—it was the second day of residence and there was a party going on in the basement—a mixer to help the nervous first year students meet people. He walked in and saw this handsome, loud, extroverted guy in the corner running a drinking game and it was the only life in the otherwise awkward party. Malcolm made his way over there and got into the game and was pretty smitten right from the start. Malcolm thought to himself, university is going to be great. Tom has no recollection of this meeting at all.
Malcolm was a floor below Tom but he quite quickly became part of Malcolm’s friend group. Not unlike many first year students, Tom had a tough time his first year of university being detached from his support system and putting pressure on himself regarding grades. When he started to isolate, Malcolm was there to pull him out of his room to fun events. Malcolm had this way of helping him out not just with his grades because he was in Tom’s words, super smart, but also he was a social butterfly and determined to make the most out of his first year. Tom found reprieve from his studies when hanging out with Malcolm and was drawn to the light he was giving off.
Tom said he had just come out after high school, had a lot of internalized homophobia and was very emotionally guarded . As much as he was attracted to Malcolm he was also scared of the vulnerability. He put up a lot of boundaries and didn’t know how to navigate them. Tom explained, “If you’re queer and you aren’t out in high school, you don’t get a chance to practice your feelings and emotions, the way others do with dating. Being just friends with Malcolm was easier.” However, towards the end of first year university, Tom and Malcolm were playing Call of Duty–a video game where you shoot zombies, Tom kissed Malcolm for the first time. Malcolm was so excited he ran into his best friends’ room the next morning and told him because he had been hopelessly pursuing Tom for a year. But then Tom and Malcolm never mentioned the kiss again for a full year. It was the elephant in the room—always between them and never spoken of. Shortly after the kiss, Tom asked Malcolm to move in with him and some other friends for second year. So they lived together in a house but Tom was still not ready for anything other than friendship.
In the second semester of Tom’s second year, he did an exchange in a different city. For the first couple of days away he felt these very intense pangs for Malcolm and thought that’s weird what is my body trying to tell me—maybe I should listen to it. Then he shoved those away and thought I’m gone for the next few months I don’t have to deal with this. When he returned, Malcolm had a boyfriend and Tom had a very emotional reaction to this news. Finally, he just decided he was going to let himself be vulnerable and it was very transformative for Tom—he felt open and cared for and invigorated by this vulnerability that he had been afraid of. He felt alive and happy. He had talked himself out of this possibility for a long time– he took a big risk and Malcolm met him where he was at.
Malcolm quipped, “Don’t pine after someone for a whole year, go after someone else and they’ll suddenly decide they want to be with you.” He ditched his boyfriend and the rest is history.
Malcolm knew right away from the very first time he saw Tom that he was the one. He said it was bordering on an obsession—he didn’t think about anyone else more than he thought about Tom in both a romantic and friendship sense. Tom helped him come out to his family and that was a keystone in his life. When he told them, Tom’s voice was in his head egging him forward.
Tom joked he would never profess early love for anyone as he’s much more cautious—he didn’t want to be hurt. Tom didn’t want to commit to anything and wanted to be free and independent. At the same time, there was so much passion and feelings for Malcolm but his insecurities kept coming up and he had to figure things out. He knew Malcolm was the one when they could talk about these things and work them out and Malcolm was committed to doing this and to making this the best relationship ever. Once those dynamics were figured out, it gave Tom a sense of security and he could relax and knew it was a longterm thing.
Malcolm told Tom that he had to propose to him and left it in Tom’s corner. Tom planned a very romantic proposal. It was Pride weekend in Toronto and there were a number of fun events celebrating queer love, and they went to some marches and gay bars, had some dinner and cocktails. When they got home, their roommates had set up their gazebo with plants and candles and Tom read Malcolm a poem that he had written about what Malcolm meant to him and the last line was Will You Marry Me? And Malcolm said “Yes.”
A personal poem after an amazing day was exactly what he wanted. A bunch of their friends were hiding in the house and when he said yes they all came out and it became a big party.
Tom says he internalized a lot of messages about sexuality as a kid. Although he feels confident about who he is and his relationship, in the back of his mind he still thinks twice about things like walking down the street holding hands. He’s hopeful someday that will no longer be an issue.
As a nurse, whenever Malcolm wears his ring, people will often go “Oh you’re married” and proceed to ask questions. A lot of spaces don’t feel safe to have that conversation because there are religious hospitals where administration has certain beliefs and conservative staff and your patients may not hold similar beliefs to yours.
He’d like to feel like he should be able to wear his ring whenever he wants.
Tom commented that they surround themselves with people who love and accept them but they are also in regular contact with people who are judging.
Tom believes there is a narrative around love that it’s all roses and sunshine because people don’t talk about their challenges even with their friends. There’s an expectation when you’re in a relationship that you’re a pair and you are figuring your stuff out on your own and you don’t want anyone else to know that you have challenges. That can be a disservice because it gives the impression that relationships are always super easy and that they don’t involve work and challenges mean that you have to break up with someone. Relationships are hard even if you’re deeply in love. Tom believes couples should talk about their issues because it’s not whether you have issues but how you work through them and move forward and figure things out together. Malcolm realizes as they grow old together, different challenges will come up and they’ll have the skills to deal with them.
Tom has grown so much personally from being with Malcolm.
He’s so grateful that Malcolm was able to guide him through various issues and allowed him to take risks and be vulnerable and still feel safe. You have to have trust in your partner.
Broadcast Love wishes this couple many more decades of fun, adventures, discoveries and joy together.