After marriage-for-all was approved by voters in September's referendum, homosexual and bisexual people can officially marry or convert their registered partnership into marriage from 1 July 2022. We introduce the first couple in Zug.
Barbara Gisler and Katja Gaiser will tie the knot on 9 July 2022. In itself, this is certainly an occasion to celebrate. In their case, there’s also a second reason: after more than four years of relationship, the two women will be the first same-sex couple in the canton of Zug to be married. A historic milestone for the couple, and also for the canton on the road to social equality for homosexual and bisexual people.
"That was the earliest possible appointment we could obtain at the Cham Civil Registry Office," says 41-year-old Katja Gaiser beaming. Same-sex couples can either officially marry or convert their registered partnership into a marriage from 1 July 2022, following the "marriage for all" concept being adopted in the referendum of 26 September 2021 by a clear majority of voters and by all cantons.
Whether it will be a dress or a suit remains open
Both will marry in white, and 40-year-old Barbara Gisler reveals:
"I'm going to wear a white dress. But not a princess dress, that doesn't suit me."
Katja Gaiser doesn’t yet want to reveal whether she will step in front of the wedding altar in a dress or in a suit, however. Otherwise, the wedding has been planned for weeks. "Our wedding ceremony with around 30 people will take place in the Villette in Cham," says Barbara Gisler, who was born in Neuheim. Both women will keep their last names.
Afterwards, we will go onboard a ship on Lake Zug for the "Day Dance" with around 70 party guests. "After the celebration on the lake, we then planned a cosy dinner on a small scale with the family in the ‘Löwen’ in Menzingen," adds Katja Gaiser, who was born in southern Germany.
The wedding will be followed by a two-week honeymoon in Tuscany, Piedmont and Tyrol, after which the couple wants to throw a big party on the former farm of Katja Gaiser's parents in Germany. "We have a lot of friends with whom we’d like to celebrate together. We don't want to exclude anyone," says Katja Gaiser, who is Head of Global Operations at a company in Lucerne.
"It was clear that we belonged together"
The two got to know each other through a personal ad that Katja Gaiser placed in a chat. "Right after the first date, it was clear to both of us that we belonged together. The charisma and the presence of the two of us immediately harmonised," says Barbara Gisler, who heads a department of a special school for language and behaviour.
The date took place at the beginning of May and the two already went on holiday together to Mallorca in the following summer.
Katja Gaiser (left) and Barbara Gisler, here on the balcony of their shared apartment, are the first same-sex couple from the canton of Zug to get married.
Barbara Gisler (left) and Katja Gaiser met via a personal ad Photos: Stefan Kaiser, Zug
They moved in together in Zug on 1 October 2018, just five months after the first meeting. Katja Gaiser, who moved from Zurich to Zug for Barbara Gisler at the time, jokes: "The saying that every lesbian has her removal van with her on the first date fits her perfectly."
Then she continues, giving a loving look to her partner: "Everything was simply right."
Both did not accept their sexual orientation for a long time
Today, the two are proud of their identity. But they were not always so sure about their feelings, and only came out after a long confrontation with themselves in their 20s. Katja Gaiser confesses:
"If I had been able to choose my sexual orientation, I would have chosen differently. But you can't choose that."
She grew up Catholic in an idyllic small town, so she was not even aware for a long time that she could love women. "That didn't exist in my mind, and was not existent at all in my environment. But I realised early on that something was different with me, and I was not completely happy in relationships with men," she continues.
Barbara Gisler has also tried her luck again and again in relationships with men, but these did not succeed: "I fell in love with my best friend from the teacher training college in my youth, but I resisted it for years." Because she didn't want to stand out, didn't want to be different.
Their families were very surprised and sometimes overwhelmed when they both stood by their sexuality. But after intensive discussions, the parents were able to understand, or at least accept it. Katja Gaiser comments: "We have now arrived at ourselves, and could not be happier."
Sexist comments keep arising
Nevertheless, the women have to put up with sexist comments from time to time, or have sometimes felt uncomfortable holding hands next to groups of men in some situations. "You get to hear comments, especially in big cities. We then both let go of each other's hands, to avoid conflict, ," says Katja Gaiser. Because no matter where they go, they are still exotic. Or at least they feel that way because of the looks they receive.
"When it comes to holiday planning, we also pay attention to our choice of countries. Same-sex love is not legal in all countries," says Katja Gaiser. And Barbara Gisler adds:
"But we don't let that take away our fun. We simply go to France or Italy, instead of the Middle East."
Because travelling, as well as good food and wine, are the great passions of the future couple. And they never experience strange looks at home in Zug. "We feel at home here," adds Barbara Gisler.