Kat Lanteigne grew up in the remote mining towns of northern Canada and her perceptions of what a man should be was shaped by what she saw there. Two men embraced the best parts of those perceptions, while expanded her idea of what a man is and can be.
“You have a special relationship, I really admire it, but I could never do it.”
A girlfriend of mine said this after I had finished explaining why I had two weddings. The first of which was a private, low-key, ceremony that was only attended by my husband, his brother, a motley crew of a few actor friends, and my best man, Jeff. The two celebrations weren’t fashioned so I could wear special dresses, or participate in the over-indulgence of the contemporary bride; they happened so Jeff could stand up for me at my wedding. As an actor in a repertory company, he was unable to attend our family affair. My wedding party only consisted of two people, my lifelong girlfriend, who is more like a sister, and Jeff. I couldn’t imagine getting married without him there to witness my vows, to read a poem, to give my husband a high-five, so I had to find a solution. The person who understood my disappointment was my husband and his empathy only solidified that I was marrying the right man.
My husband Graeme is the definition of a good man. He is kind, intelligent, gentle, hard-working, honest, warm and has an endless capacity for forgiveness. We have a love story that some don’t believe. Graeme and I worked together for a brief time on a film and soon after I moved cities. One year later, after little communication, I was back in town and had him on my mind, I jumped into a taxi to his office, ran inside, threw my arms around him and said:
“I’ve loved you from the minute I met you and if you aren’t with me for this life I don’t know what I will do.”
I’m a feminist and I also celebrate my capacity to deeply and romantically love my husband. Graeme and I have been together from that moment on and married for just over ten years. When I told Jeff about my new romance he was, as usual, comical and supportive:
“Whoa, dude, you probably scared the shit out of that guy – can’t wait to meet him.”
Graeme never questioned the validity of my friendship with Jeff, he never asked me if we had slept together (which I would have found offensive and upsetting) and he never felt insecure. He was genuinely excited to meet this redheaded actor I called my BFF. When they met they bonded immediately and talked for three hours about Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, and documentary filmmaking. I was, as I like to recall, left out of the conversation.
I have very high expectations of people, especially of men. Raised in northern Canada in remote mining towns, my perceptions of what a man should and shouldn’t be have been influenced greatly by my father and blue-collar culture: a man works, provides for and protects his family. Both Jeff and Graeme have added another narrative to the one I was brought up in. And it has nothing to do with eliminating the role of man or his place in the world, but rather opening it up to another way of understanding. Graeme and Jeff represent a generation of men who are not ashamed of their “soft-side” and who are proud of their masculinity at the same time. They have a profound sense of how women are subjugated to extreme sexism in the world and want to make a better place for their sons and daughters.
My husband is my soul mate. He is the love of my life and is irreplaceable. But so is my best friend Jeff. When Jeff got married, I cried for the whole day. I’ve never seen someone so happy to marry someone in my life. He adores his wife. I was honored to be his best-woman. I was one of the first people to be called when they got pregnant, and on the same list when their first son became very ill soon after he was born. Jeff and I have known each other since we were teens and over the last twenty years we have supported each other through loss, triumphs, and dream catching.
My husband and my best friend are my confidants, my advisors, my princes and my personal poets. Without both of them I would be lost. Through some excruciatingly painful times in my life they have both grabbed an elbow on either side of me and kept me from drowning. Truth is, having both of them in my life has made me a better woman. I’m not sure that our relationship is special, but I know that it is real and based on trust, mutual respect and admiration. I had two weddings and they were both important and hold a special place in my heart. Jeff got to high-five my husband, give me a big hug and say, “I’m really proud of you, you married a good man.” Coming from him, it was one of the greatest compliments I’ve ever had.