To proudly love, honour, and respect . . .

Saturday February 29, 2020 Written by Published in Weekend
Cook Islander Alex Nicholls (with the ei katu) and his husband Joshua with their grooms’ maid at their fairytale wedding a week ago in Sydney. Australia. 20022810 Cook Islander Alex Nicholls (with the ei katu) and his husband Joshua with their grooms’ maid at their fairytale wedding a week ago in Sydney. Australia. 20022810

Alex and Joshua exchanged wedding vows last week in Australia, because they couldn’t do it back home in Cook Islands. Now, they have one further vow: to see same-sex relations decriminalised here. 

They say love knows no bounds. And for newly-married Cook Islands couple Alex and Joshua Nicholls, this rings true. Nationality, distance, gender, tradition – their relationship has crossed many borders.

Theirs is not a boy meets a girl, love happens and they get married story. It is about two men and their abiding love for one another.

Alex, a champion Cook Islands dancer, met Ryan Joshua Han on the dance floor 15 years ago. He was 18 then, a year younger than Joshua.

“When we locked eyes, we instantly hit it off like a house on fire,” remembers Alex.

After two weeks of texting each other, Joshua moved in to live with Alex and his family.

“We were good friends for many seasons and as we grew to enjoy each other’s friendship we became more intimate!

“There was no official ‘coming out party’. Our relationship developed naturally over time.”

It wasn’t plain sailing for them. Like any other relationship, they also weathered a few storms. In 2012, they took a year’s break from each other – but the distance apart brought them closer and helped them realise what they had was special.

That was the year that Alex returned home to Cook Islands, where he had previously lived, to win the International Dancer of the Year contest.

They got back together in 2013 and travelled to a number of countries including Cook Islands, on dancing tours with Tropical Island Hula.

Joshua, who is an Australian of Chinese heritage, embraced Cook Islands culture and took the name Teretokorua.

“Joshua and I are both creative individuals,” says Alex. “We both enjoy travelling and love the performing arts.”

In August 2018, Alex and Joshua got engaged and a year later they moved in with Joshua’s mum.

A week ago, the two exchanged vows to officially become one. Their union in marriage, Alex says, will symbolise a higher level of commitment they have to each other.

“As expected challenges will always be present but relish in them and face them head on knowing that it will only make you stronger,” says Alex.

“We fought, we cried, we forgive and forget like every other relationship and now we are almost inseparable.”

Alex and Joshua’s wedding was the first of its kind for their respected and devoutly religious families.

They were blessed with the most amazing and supportive pack of friends and families, Alex says, who have not only accepted their relationship but also supported them from day one.

“Everyone was excited upon receiving their wedding invites. It was everyone’s first LGBT wedding so everyone was curious and fascinated.”

Aitutaki was their dream wedding destination, but same sex marriage or relationship is banned in the Cook Islands.

Given the circumstances, Alex says an intimate wedding in Sydney was their best option.

“At least it allowed us to exchange our vows, announce our union ship and celebrate with our friends and families in Cook Islands and Australian style.

“The wedding itself was magical! Planned within five weeks, we were able to put our hospitality skills to good use and customised a lot of the finer details which gave it a romantic ambience.

“There were plenty of food, beverage, music and dance so the event was a success.”

They had the most gorgeous and talented line of grooms-maids. They included their older sisters Sharlene Barat and Kathy Wilkinson, inspirational cousins Lydia Simonis (former Miss Cook Islands) and Tiare Simonis, and friends Matakaiariki Samuel-Mata, Maria Kolo, Jaylene Andrews and Rikki-lee Ruha.

Now Teretokorua Ryan Joshua Han has taken another new name: that of Nicholls, his husband.

Besides the fact that Joshua possesses the “most gorgeous green eyes and most alluring warm smile”, Alex says his husband personified the kind of values and personality traits he was looking for in his life partner.

Joshua embraces his cultural heritage/identity, supports him, and always goes beyond the call, to develop a strong relationship with his family.

“I am attracted to his personality, not his gender, which is something not everyone understands or accepts to this date. But the truth is, I know within my heart that I deserve happiness!”

Alex says they are polar opposites in many ways but they complement each other very well.

Compromising is a key word, he says, in keeping the peace.

Joshua is very sentimental about everything, while Alex is all about logic and reason.

“He’s materialistic, I’m all about building memories and experience. He enjoys burning hot tea/coffee and eating freshly cooked hot food, I prefer both lukewarm.

“He can shower for hours while I have concerns over living a more sustainable lifestyle.

“He’s very pedantic about what he wants down to the fine details and not worry about budget, I’m about efficiency and meeting timeframe within or under the budget.”

The elements that define their relationship start with love, followed by what Alex calls CTR: Compromise, Transparency and Respect.

“Joshua helps me realise my true potential and true worth. He never allows me to become lazy and complacent. He gives me purpose and meaning to life.”

In Cook Islands, sexual relations between two men is banned by the Crimes Act.

There is no decision yet on previous plans to remove the ban. The matter is still with the select committee, which had wanted to retain the criminal clause.

Alex and Joshua hopes their story will help the committee members realise that members of the LGBTQ+ community deserve love and respect.

“We now cherish our culture and arts and want to protect them, yet when the missionaries arrived from England in 1821, Christianity quickly took hold in the culture and the blue laws were introduced, which almost disintegrated our cultural heritage,” says Alex.

“If we can make big decisions as such, why can’t we legalise gay marriage in the Cook Islands and lift the ban on homosexuality?

“Do we only use our LGBT community to make beautiful costumes and dance choreographies for our Miss Cook Islands, Mire Ura and Te Maeva Nui celebrations? Better yet, weave the rito hats or create the pearl necklace, ear rings or ei katu you wear to church and various functions?

“I find this very hypocritical. We pick and choose when it is okay to acknowledge our LGBT community and when not too.

“The time is changing, look to your neighbour: there’s a high chance you have a family member awaiting to have their inner voice heard. Let them be a leaf in the wind and support or watch them soar!”

5 comments

  • Comment Link Hey Sunday, 01 March 2020 03:11 posted by Hey

    Happy happy joy joy

  • Comment Link Vera Saturday, 29 February 2020 23:25 posted by Vera

    Congratulation Alex and Joshua, lm so embraced happy for yu both,

  • Comment Link Fern Saturday, 29 February 2020 18:39 posted by Fern

    So beautiful...

  • Comment Link Im so proud of my Son who choices what he want.His happy an im happy .I love you both forever. Saturday, 29 February 2020 17:31 posted by Im so proud of my Son who choices what he want.His happy an im happy .I love you both forever.

    Message

  • Comment Link Teokotai ROI Saturday, 29 February 2020 13:57 posted by Teokotai ROI

    Ko teia I tupu ki teia nga tamariki kia riro mai raua ei kopapa okotai, ko ta raua rae teia I inangaro
    E tatau ara au e kua arai ia teia akaipoipo anga tane ete tane ite ipukarea, uianga eaa te tumu??
    Me akamanako au kare e tupu te manamanata e nga tokorua teia kua inangaro ia raua, kare roa e riro ite tamanamanata ite oraanga o tetai uatu aronga I akaipoipo, me kore tetai ngutuare tangata. Kaore roa

    Iaku uai kore e arai ia te aronga e akaturi ere nei e riro nei ite tamanamanata ite oraanga akaipoipo
    Te tupu nei ito tatou ipukarea, kua akaruke ite vaine ete tamariki, kua ere atu kua noo e vaine ke, kare oki e okotai ua mei tetai ki tetai e ki tetai
    Ka tupu te tamakianga, te aue, te akamoe au tetai ki tetai kite kopu tangata o nga tua e rua ite ngutuare, e mea akaroa te oraanga ote tamariki ete metua vaine.
    Toku manako uai tano ei kia akairi ia te araianga ki runga ite aronga akaturi
    Kua kite mata tikai au e e rai uatu te au tokorua taeake mei teia nga tamariki rae ito tatou ipukarea Kuki Airani e tupu nei I teia ra.
    Irinaki au e te aronga I tuku I teia araianga te kite mata ara to ratou mata ite au ngai ta ratou ngai e ere ara.

    Kia tatou ete au metua ka akatau matatio atu ki ta tatou au tamariki I anoano, I inangaro eiaa kita tatou uaorai e irinaki e pera I inangaro.
    Teia tuatau nota tatou au tamariki kia mataora to ratou oraanga e tai ua a tatou e tauturu.
    Te tumu au e tuku atu nei toku manako note mea ko au tetai kare au I mareka ana ite akarongo mua anga ite au mataiti I topa note akaipoipo anga tane ete tane, vaine ete vaine, kareka I teia ra akamanako au kare e rauka ite patoi I tate tamariki I inangaro, tai ua rai a tatou metua e tauturu.
    Tera ua noku rae toku manako
    Ka kite

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