Ivan Heng weds his partner of 18 years on a "perfect British summer's day"

Ivan Heng weds his partner of 18 years on a "perfect British summer's day"
Ivan Heng (right), the artistic director of home-grown theatre company Wild Rice, tied the knot with his long-time partner Tony Trickett, Wild Rice's executive director, in London on Aug 1.

Cultural Medallion recipient Ivan Heng has tied the knot with his long-time partner Tony Trickett in London. It took place on Aug 1.


Get the full story from The Straits Times.

Ivan Heng's Aug 3 post on Facebook, titled "I am a Happily Married Man.":

On being awarded the Cultural Medallion, Singapore's highest national award for culture and the arts, a journalist asked me whether she could use the term "openly gay" to describe me. A little stunned, I asked her what my sexual orientation had to do with the award. She explained that as the two other winners were married, she felt it necessary to inform the readers about my marital "status", or something equivalent.

I paused, not quite knowing what to say. And then asked her if she would use the term "openly straight" to describe them. The irony was not lost on her, and we had a giggle. I told her she could write that I shared my life and work with Tony, my partner of seventeen years.

When I finally accepted the award at the Istana, I ended my speech by thanking Tony publicly, and I might add, to great applause. The article regarding the ceremony made the front page of the Straits Times the following day. But whilst my fellow winners' spouses were mentioned in glowing terms,Tony was conspicuously absent. This lack of any acknowledgement hurt.

I've always liked the idea of marriage. I cry at weddings because there is something beautiful and romantic about finding someone, falling in love, and wanting to give each other the world. Forever. I imagined it'd be bliss to come home to a best friend at the end of a day's work, to have dinner, or take evening strolls with. It would be wonderful to always have someone in my corner, a constant companion with whom I could just be myself, and to grow old with. But when I was growing up, I had little to look up to. There were no positive gay roles models, and neither were there any gay television programmes, books or films with happy endings. So I dared not entertain the hope that marriage could happen for me.

In the summer of 1996, I met Tony at the "Brief Encounter",a gay bar in London's West End. I was meant to be at another party that evening, but my hot date ran out of battery on his mobile phone, and I did not own one. So my intended tryst was scuppered, and I needed a drink. It was "Disco Thursday", and the place was heaving with an after-work crowd. As is always the case with gay bars, everyone was trying and never completely succeeding to be butch and cool. But when Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer's "Enough is Enough" came on, the make-shift dance floor went wild and everyone started a sing-a-long. I found myself mouthing the words with a casual insouciance - one tries to look as if you're enjoying yourself, but not too much.

And then I saw Tony, looking very handsome in his pinstriped suit, not a strand of his salt and pepper hair out of place and the kindest, most beautiful blue eyes. He too was singing. "I always dreamed I'd find the perfect lover, but he turned out to be like any other man…". We caught each other lip-synching across the crowded room, and laughed. And then, we proceeded to sing the entire anthem to each other. "Enough is enough, is enough, is enough…IS ENOUGH!!" We keeled over laughing. Sharing a sense of humour was a good place to start. When we finally recovered and spoke to each other, something clicked. That night, all our cares melted away and the world disappeared. We fell in love.

Six weeks later, on a moonlit street in London, Tony went down on bended knee and asked me to marry him. I remember being at once alarmed and moved. Given the improbability of such a union, and preferring to be romanced by chocolates, flowers and champagne, I declined. He persisted, gallantly getting down on both knees, and I agreed for us to be "boyfriends". Needless to say, our encounter has been more than brief.

Within three months of knowing each other, we moved in together. And one year later, in 1997, we moved to Singapore. It is a place we have grown to love very much, and that we call home.

When marriage equality became real in the United Kingdom this year, Tony and I decided to get married. We envisaged an intimate, private ceremony with our families and our close friends. It would be an occasion to celebrate and affirm our commitment to each other as a couple. We chose the 1stof August 2014 for our nuptials to mark our 18th anniversary together. Homophonically, pun fully intended, 1-8-1-8 is auspicious in Chinese. A little luck is needed on all great adventures.

Yesterday, at the Chelsea Old Town Hall in London, we avowed our love. With our nephew as our ring bearer, our siblings as witnesses, our family and our closest friends, we exchanged rings and made a promise to love and cherish each other to the end of our days. It was well and truly one of the happiest days of our lives.

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