Peter Kavanagh flew to Copenhagen from his home in Brighton for a long weekend in May 2014. “I went to a street party for the Eurovision song contest and then discovered there was an afterparty going on,” he says. He made his way to Freetown Christiania, an area of the city that was taken over by hippies in the 1960s and now exists as an international commune. “I was really excited, as it’s somewhere I’ve always wanted to go.”
The party was in full swing when he spotted Franck Thierry across the room. Franck was living in Copenhagen at the time, and had been attending another house party with friends before the club night. “He spoke to me in a French accent, and I went weak at the knees,” laughs Peter. Franck noticed his partner’s dancing. “I loved Peter’s whole look. We spent the next three hours chatting.”
As the sun began to rise, Franck invited Peter back to his home in Copenhagen. “I was sitting on the back of his bike and got my own personal tour of Christiania,” says Peter. “It was so romantic.” As well as the instant attraction, the pair had plenty in common. “We both realised we loved gardening, so we chatted about that for ages,” says Franck. “He didn’t go back to his Airbnb until the very end of the weekend.”
As soon as Peter left for the airport, Franck made plans to come and visit him in Brighton. “When I landed in Gatwick, he texted me to say he was coming the next weekend. I was really excited as otherwise getting home could have been a real downer.”
When Franck arrived, he fell in love with Brighton. “We had this incredible weekend together. The sun was shining the whole time.” At the time, Franck was working as a freelance massage therapist, while Peter had flexible hours as the owner of a hairdressing salon. It meant they could see each other regularly throughout the summer. “I think the cheap flights from easyJet played a big part in our relationship,” jokes Franck.
After several months of “fun and hedonism”, they started finding it harder to say goodbye at the end of their weekends together. In the autumn, Franck moved to Brighton. “I am originally French, but had been living in Copenhagen for 34 years,” he says. “It was quite a drastic move and I think some of my clients thought I was mad.” He has never regretted it. The couple found an allotment together and Franck began working in Peter’s salon. “All the clients love it when Franck is in charge of doing the hair washing because of his massage skills,” says Peter.
After splitting from his first civil partner after a few years (Denmark was the first country in the world to legalise civil partnerships, in 1989) and losing his second to Aids in the 90s, Franck had no plans to marry again. “Peter changed my mind, though” he laughs. “He insisted.”
The couple got married in Brighton in August 2016, carrying flowers they’d picked from their allotment. “There were just a few friends there. We both wore our gardening clothes, as it’s what we always wear,” says Peter. They are now happily settled with their dog. During lockdown, they spent all their time gardening and have now managed to reopen their hairdressing salon.
“Franck always gives me confidence,” says Peter. “He’s so attentive, charming and romantic. He’s also really sexy.” Franck says they bonded through music and a shared philosophy on life. He believes they also have a rare spiritual connection. “Sometimes you just really understand someone. I’m old enough to know that doesn’t happen very often. I think our personalities complement each other well.”
Peter jokes that Franck tells him “to calm down” quite a lot, but agrees their differences balance each other out. “From that first night when we were cycling through Copenhagen at sunrise there was something special. We’re really lucky to have found each other.”
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