Gay marriage in China: One couple's story

Source: Published: 2015/7/3 13:59:08

Highlights: Twenty-seven-year-old Gino and Ling Jueding, 34, hold their wedding ceremony in Beijing on June 27, a day after the US Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. But as gay couples across the world rejoiced the landmark decision, Gino and Ling struggled as both police and prejudice threatened their ceremony.

  • Twenty-seven-year-old Gino (left) and Ling Jueding, 34, kiss during their wedding ceremony in Beijing on June 27. The couple first met in 2013 at an event held by Ling’s company, the developer of a gay social networking app. "At first glance I thought he [Ling] was a little bit girly, not at all like his manly photo, and we didn’t talk much at first.” Gino told “It was only afterward when he would find work-related reasons to ask me out to coffee that we got to know each other. But now it seems he’d been planning the whole thing all along," he said. Photos: Feng Zhonghao

  • Gino prepares for his wedding on the morning of June 27. "It’s been really tough for us to finally get here," Gino said. Ling confessed his love for Gino while traveling together in June of 2013. "Many gays are not brave enough to accept themselves and plan for the future," said Ling, "But Gino let me know his ideas for the future. He is brave. We met at just the right time."

  • Gino has collected all the movie ticket stubs, train tickets and other mementos from their time together over the past two years. The couple lives a simple life. After work, sometimes they go out for dinner but seldom go to bars.

  • Ling and Gino sit in their living room behind jars of dry rose petals. Gino likes roses while Ling thinks their short bloom life is a symbol of sadness. He doesn’t send Gino roses. Gino explained he once sent Ling a bouquet of Valentine’s Day roses, but Ling later threw them away. Gino picked through the garbage for the roses, then dried and jarred the petals. "This way the flowers can always be in bloom, just in a different way. Just like straight and non-straight people choose love in a different way," said Gino.

  • Things were difficult at first. Ling had just started his company when he and Gino began dating, and they lived a busy and strenuous life. However, Gino and his parents supported Ling’s endeavor, which deeply moved and further convinced him they belonged together. "There is a saying in Africa that one person can walk faster, but two persons can walk longer," said Ling. "I think we can not only walk longer, but also be mirrors for each other and grow together. " Gino said both his and Ling’s parents had wanted them to get married, and hope they can raise a child in the future to "experience the happiness and responsibility of parenting."

  • A passerby looks at Ling and Gino as they pose for wedding photos at Beijing's Yongdingmen Gate. "We're used to getting strange looks," said Gino. "We had this wedding not only for ourselves, but also to help change people's prejudices." Ling explained he became of his sexual orientation at an early age and had suitors back in high school. At the time, he recalls thinking "he was screwed." When Ling shared it to his parents, they sent him to hospitals for mental treatment.

  • The couple takes wedding photos on the campus of Ling's alma mater, Tsinghua University. Ling said his mother began to accept his sexual preference after he became a graduate student. His father learnt to deal with it after Ling had his first boyfriend. "They had a hard time accepting it, but felt relief when they saw me happy," Ling said. Ling celebrated this year's Spring Festival with Gino's family, where they had a great time together. It was when they returned to Beijing that Ling proposed to Gino.

  • Ling informs friends about a last-minute change of venue one day ahead of the ceremony. Police informed the couple they were not allowed to hold their wedding at the place they had booked.

  • Gino sits at home on June 27. With only 5 hours before the ceremony, the couple is still without a venue. "We had to change places nearly 10 times," Gino said.

  • A private club finally agreed to hold their wedding ceremony. Club employees crowded to watch their rehearsal after hearing the wedding was for gay couple.

  • Gino is walked down the aisle by his sister. Frequent changes to the wedding plans prevented Gino's parents, who live in Shenzhen of Guangdong Province, from attending. "They even booked the tickets, but refunded them last night," said Gino, "We were worried they would feel sad and disappointed if the wedding was interrupted."

  • During the ceremony, Gino's sister gave him away to Ling. Gino was moved to tears, as so were many of their friends. "Would anyone of you have ever imagined me standing here?" said Ling in his speech. "A lot of gays attended our wedding, and I hope our happiness encourage them find their love," Gino said.

  • A wedding guest wears a rainbow flag, a symbol of gay pride, on his coat as a show of support. Ling and Gino invited nearly 200 guests to their wedding, most of which are gay.

  • One of the wedding cards to the couple reads, "It [your wedding] is the most encouraging and inspiring event of this sunny June. "

  • Ling and Gino have decided to legalize their marriage in US this year. "Then we would be a real family," said the couple.

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