Yesterday an event was webcast from China to the world: a marriage between two gay men.
Homosexuality is a taboo topic in China, although Cankao Xiaoxi (or Reference News), one of the country’s main daily newspapers, estimates that there are some 30 million homosexual Chinese (a figure backed up by the Chinese Society for the Study of Sexual Minorities.)
Earlier this month, the couple began talking about their relationship publicly via Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter. This sparked a barrage of comments and attention. The couple responded by announcing their plans to marry – they even kissed a few times for the camera
The two men — one a teacher, the other a bottled water delivery man — met when the latter made a delivery to the former.
“What’s wrong with two old men falling in love with each other?” asked the teacher. “Why do you attack us with such abusive language? Gays in America are allowed to get married now. We are not there yet. What is it exactly you are against? We just kissed — so what? It’s none of your business!”
In a blog post, the couple later added, “We are determined not to leave each other unless we die. We will fight for ourselves no matter how hard or painful it is.”
Yesterday’s “wedding” was a private exchange of vows. It has no legal standing: China’s marriage law does not include same sex couples.
But those private vows were made in a very public manner: in front of a video camera that streamed them live online.
Stephen J. Leonelli, a consultant at Beijing LGBT Centre, spoke about the couple in an interview with Reference News: “They have extraordinary courage, especially in the context of Chinese culture. It is even hard for young gay people to openly express their sexual orientation.”
Yesterday’s ceremony proved too much for one of the bridegroom’s sons. He overturned a table and threw out the couple’s guests — effectively closing down the party.
Writing after yesterday’s event on their Weibo blog, the father reacted to his son’s actions: “It really hurts us…Why can we get blessings from outsiders but not our own son?”