A FORMER DJ and a public health worker will make history seconds after midnight on December 31 – when they become Scotland’s first married gay couple.
MALCOLM Brown and Joe Schofield bonded online over a shared love of punk and alternative music.
The couple from Tullibody, Clackmannanshire, who have been together nine years, said they were “honoured” and “blown away” to be the first same sex couple to be married in Scotland.
The ceremony is being planned down to the last second to ensure the grooms are legally pronounced husband and husband moments after the clock strikes 12 on Hogmanay morning.
Malcolm and Joe were among 15 couples who took up the Humanist Society Scotland’s offer to help organise the earliest-possible gay marriage. Most of the other 14 couples are set to marry later the same day.
The weddings were made possible after a change in the law by passed at Holyrood earlier this year, following a campaign led by the Equality Network.
Former DJ and engineering student Malcolm, 42, known as Malx, and Joe, also 42, have asked Alex Salmond to be a witness.
They said their big day will also be about “celebrating the changes and the people who have campaigned”.
Malx said: “Before couldn’t have used the word marriage. We as a gay couple can now use that term. We’re now equal with everyone else. That’s really important.
“I was blown away to find out we will be the first.”
Joe, who has campaigned for gay equality since he was 16, added: “There is obviously the devotion I have, this is the guy I want to spend the rest of my life with.”
Joe, originally from Rochdale, Greater Manchester, added: “It’s also about some of the basic human rights that our relationship will be recognised as husband and husband. That’s a biggie.
“This is a real, concrete example of Scotland making changes that will change social attitudes. I was amazed to get it.”
Malx had an eight year stint as a morning radio DJ on Central FM before becoming a mature student at Edinburgh Napier University.
He was 26-years-old before he ‘came out’ as a gay man.
“I was very concerned about coming out,” he said. “I was thinking can I come out in this town?
“I think I was worried more about losing my friends. I was left feeling guilty about that because they proved me wrong.”
Malx is in his last year of a bachelor degree in engineering at Edinburgh Napier University, said he had been going through a “low” point in his life before meeting Joe through the online music site Last FM.
He said: “You just know when something is right. I knew fairly early on, and I said, ‘This is the one, we’re going to get married one day’. Those were the words: ‘We’re going to get married one day.’ This is it.
“We’ve just been biding time since then really. In terms of what’s happening now it’s just like let’s do it. It’s all or nothing.”
“There was no official proposal,” added Malx. “We were always of the view that we would wait until that legislation kicked in.”
Joe, who is also 42, was living in London when they first met, but grew up in Rochdale, Greater Manchester.
He said: “I was exposed to the gay scene, gay politics and all the gay community early. We had very different experiences.”
The Public Health worker for Greater Glasgow has been campaigning on behalf of gay rights since he was 16 and starting off working for the Lesbian and Gay Switchboard.
In the 1980s he was involved in raising awareness of HIV and gay men’s health and since moving to Scotland eight years ago has been working on Hepatitis C awareness.
Joe said: “I was coming back and forth to Scotland as much as I could when we realised it was a goer I started looking around for a job.”
He continued: “We didn’t want a civil partnership. It didn’t feel meaningful enough in them of what is being offered.”
It was on Facebook where Joe saw the call from the Humanist Society for couple to put themselves forward for the first equal marriage in Scotland.
On Sunday they were told they had been chosen to be Scotland’s first same sex marriage and now they are turning their attention to the big day.
“It is a real honor getting this,” said Joe. “As well as us getting the huge privilege it will be an event that’s a big celebration for all the people involved in campaigning.”
First Minister Alex Salmond and the leader of the Scottish Greens Patrick Harvey have been invited to be the official witnesses at the wedding which is expected to take place in Glasgow.
But there is still lots of planning ahead for the pair who described themselves as a “regular” couple.
Asked what their big day will be like Joe said “we’ve not got a scooby”.
He continued: “When we knew the new legislation was coming up we discussed it. Our original plan was to turn up, just us and witnesses, leave and then have a wee sesh. We don’t want to be a pair of groomzillas.
“The opportunity to be the first, as much as it’s about the wedding being about us it’s also about celebrating the changes and the people who have been campaigning for years.”
Joe and Malx will walk together down the aisle in kilts and both will keep their own names.
Music will no doubt feature heavily with their dream wedding band being either Manchester post punk band The Fall or American Celtic punk band Dropkick Murphys.
The menu on the night will cater for Joe who is a vegan as well as having a meat option.
Looking ahead the couple plan to spend their honeymoon in the west coast of Scotland putting dreams of visiting Russia on hold.
Joe said: “We’ve been talking for a while about going to Russia, we love the history, especially around the 80s when we were growing up. That would have been the ideal honeymoon. But in Russia with the climate of fear and homophobia it wouldn’t be safe at the moment.”
He added: “We love the west coast of Scotland so in the spring we will probably take a trip up the west coast and to the islands.”
The ceremony will be conducted by Humanist Society Scotland celebrant Ross Wright who has been part of the campaign for equal marriage.
“It was difficult to chose a couple,” he said. “Lot of people wanted to be the first. These two just seemed to understand the significance of it on all the levels.
Ross, who will make the legal declaration just after midnight, added: “It is a huge privilege I’ve been asked to do this. I’ve been involved in equality campaigning all my life.
“It’s going to be very emotional for me, not just the couple.”
He continued: “There are going to be a lot of weddings on the 31st. I was expecting people to be really disappointed not to be the first but they were still wanting to get married on the 31st.
“There will be a lot of people doing it.”