I guess it’s one of the consequences of marriage equality that I should have been prepared for — stag-dos are no longer an activity restricted to straight guys.
It’s an interesting tradition, the stag-do — also known as a bachelor party, or a buck’s party, depending on which part of the world you’re in. A celebration of your last moments of freedom before you embrace a more constricted life as a married man. Your friends take you out, get you dangerously drunk, and generally humiliate you.
My friend Tristan was getting married to his long-term boyfriend Andreas.
Tristan’s stag-do was organised by Trish who was his best-man — or whatever the term is when you have a woman performing the duties of the person in the ceremony who is traditionally referred to as the best-man.
There were 16 of us. Trish had booked a large house in the Cotswolds.
The Cotswolds are a beautiful part of the world — old-English countryside, not too far from London. If you live in London, and have a lot of money, then chances are that you’ll have a second home in one of the many small, stone villages that are smattered across these rolling hills.
I guess that there aren’t really any rules when it comes to gay stag-dos. For this one, there were four women and twelve guys. Only three gays (including Tristan, and myself).
We were booked on a train from London Paddington to Moreton-on-Marsh, however due to a last-minute train strike we had to switch to a mini-bus.
Our first night was take-away pizza, and drinks. Lots of drinks.
We were up early the next morning, collected by a mini-bus and taken to a nearby shooting range for clay pigeon shooting.
Our guide was Jim, a friendly guy who seemed to be in his late 70s — he was an excellent instructor. Through the general conversation, Jim gathered that it was a stag-do for Tristan.
“Is the bride here as well?” asked Jim, nodding towards the women in the group.
“No, he’s marrying a guy. He’s gay” explained Scott, matter-of-factly, picking up the gun and taking his shot. Jim didn’t seem fazed by that information.
This was my first experience at clay pigeon shooting — I enjoyed it but wasn’t any good, I won the prize for worst score.
Back on the mini bus, we headed to a water park where we piled into canoes to paddle down the Avon River. The weather was good and there was more splashing and water fights than rowing. Eventually we made it to the Fleet Inn, where we pulled up and dried off a bit over drinks and food.
“This is a bit tame, isn’t it?” protested Dan, as we sat in the sun drinking glasses of white wine. “By this point on my stag-do, I’d been rushed to the Accident and Emergency department of the nearest hospital!”
“That’s true…” confirmed Scott (who had organised Dan’s stag-do — both of them are straight guys). “We spiked his drink with a lot of Viagra, so he had a massive hard-on for the entire night. The doctor said that it was all the vomiting from alcohol poisoning, combined with the Viagra, that had resulted in the dangerously protruding haemorrhoid…’
“I’ll go and get some tequila shots!” announced Dan.
The shots of tequila didn’t improve the rowing, and it was an effort getting the canoes back to base.
It will be interesting to see how businesses try to position themselves to try and capture the gay stag-do market. Experiences and activities for groups are clearly something that the gays are going to be Googling for.
After a massive group-shop at a nearby Tesco (not something I’d recommend), we cooked up a feast for our evening meal. The house was equipped with two kitchens, and a large dining room where we could all sit comfortably around the table. There was food, speeches, and drinking. A lot of drinking.
The train ride home was fairly subdued.
Trish was happy that all the logistics had gone to plan. Tristan was happy that his stag-do had been exactly the kind of weekend that he had been hoping for. I’m happy that my friend has met someone that he wants to spend the rest of his life with, and happy that I was able to be part of the celebrations.
The gay stag-do. Embracing a new tradition.