COVER: Love: The long wait
By Sabrina Furminger
It took Peter Eastwood more than thirty-four years to make an honest man of Philip James Seth.
The couple first crossed paths in a crowded Hong Kong disco in 1977. Seth, then an art teacher, recognized Eastwood, a British hairstylist, from a series of newspaper ads.
“The salon where he worked would take out ads in the paper every time they had a new stylist from England, and so every day in the paper there would be this ad with his picture in it,” said Seth in a recent interview in the couple’s Vancouver home. “To me, he was famous.”
Seth decided the best way to snag the Brit’s attention was to play hard to get and ignore him—a strategy that backfired, because Eastwood didn’t notice him at all. They didn’t actually speak until a second chance meeting at that same disco, followed by a first date in the Lau Ling Bar in Hong Kong’s famed Furama Hotel.
Now it was Eastwood’s turn to swoon.
“Here’s this guy that is Eurasian and comes from a completely different culture to me, and we’re making each other laugh,” he said. “I fell in love with him immediately.”
Within months, the two were sharing a room in a Hong Kong flat.
They continued in this companionable vein until 1994, when they moved to Vancouver. Here Eastwood dove into photography, and Seth pursued a career as a Gyrotonic and Gyrokinesis trainer.
And then, in 2005, Canada legalized gay marriage. By this point, Eastwood and Seth had been together for nearly 28 years, and Eastwood was ready to take the next step. When he proposed, however, Seth turned him down flat.
“I didn’t want to jinx it,” said Seth. “My thinking was, if we proceed as we are now, then things will remain the same, but if we introduce this heavy factor into the relationship, it might take us on a different path, and I was afraid of what that could do.”
But Eastwood kept proposing, and Seth kept saying no. Finally, as they celebrated the 34th anniversary of their Lau Ling date with a couple of bottles of champagne, Seth said yes. “[He] was finally sure,” said Eastwood.
Compared to the decades-long courtship, the engagement was blink-and-you’ll-miss-it short. Eastwood proposed on a Friday night, and by the following Wednesday, they were married.
The couple tied the knot in their dining room, surrounded by roses and candlelight, with only an officiant and two witnesses in attendance. Eastwood prepared his vows in advance, while Seth improvised in the moment.
“We wanted it to be fast and simple,” said Eastwood. “This was the next best thing to eloping.”
Also virtually present: three overseas friends (two on one screen) looking on via Skype. “There would have been more, but we only had two computers,” said Seth with a laugh.
Among them was the friend with whom they’d shared that first apartment in Hong Kong.
“She was driving and managed to pull up to a filling station that had wifi,” Eastwood said, also laughing.
Indeed, there is much laughter in Eastwood and Seth’s home, and that might be the secret to their longevity.
“What keeps us together is the laughter, and that every day we sit down at a table and eat together,” said Eastwood. “That’s when we can really connect.”
And if all else fails, there’s always another option.
“We can divorce and go back to living in sin,” said Seth, erupting into joyous laughter. “That was fun, too!”