For those of you who are well-acquainted with LGBT happenings around the world, you would know that some Beijing activists staged a mock wedding photo shoot on Valentine's Day. You can read more about it here.
Irene from Sayoni had the honour of interviewing one of the brides, Dana, about her thoughts and experiences.
Irene: Hello Dana. Could you tell us why you (and your friends) conceptualized this idea?
Dana: Actually, some of us have been giving out flowers on the streets on Valentine’s Day since 2007. Flyers urging support for gay marriage were wrapped around the roses. We organized a series of events in 2008 on top of giving out flowers, such as collecting thousands of signatures supporting legislation of same-sex marriage in China and staging a public exhibition of the signatures. We made it a month-long equality campaign, starting from Valentine’s Day to the annual meeting of China’s People’s Congress. Thus, this event in 2009 was not impromptu. It was the result of continuing what we had done over the past two years.
Irene: Are the two of you a couple? You two look really good together.
Dana: No, she is my good friend. We have our own respective partners.
Irene: I remember that you guys gave out roses on Wangfujing during Valentine's Day in 2007. Is there any particular reason why you chose Qianmen Dajie for this year's event?
Dana: We wanted to hold it in a downtown area because we would like to enhance the visibility of gay people. Furthermore, Qianmen is a landmark place which is very uniquely Beijng.
Irene: How did it feel to take the centre stage for this event? What were the reactions of the passer-bys?
Dana: The wedding gown is such a magical item. The sense of happiness from wearing it is indescribable. I think my other friends would have more to say about taking wedding pictures on the streets, as I was fully focused on my pose and actions. I had to be very careful because I was the focus of attention that day. Of course we had all kinds of reactions. Regardless of what the news reports or the CCTV poll say, I received much more blessings than disdain on that day itself.
Irene: Could you share with us any particularly interesting experiences with the public on that day?
Dana: A middle-aged man rushed up to give us his blessings. There was a woman in her fifties who praised us for being so courageous. Many people were fighting to give us flowers or take pictures with us. I didn't really see too many reactions as I was absorbed in the photo taking.
Irene: Did the news reports (including photos) in foreign media create any pressure for you? For example with family, friends or colleagues at work... Do you have any concerns about how they would react if they were to see them?
Dana: I am not too worried about the reports in foreign media as my family lives mainly in China. But there is some local media coverage such as the CCTV online poll, NetEase, Tencent, which my family and friends might surf. I have some concerns because I have no plans to come out to my family for the time being.
Irene: Was it difficult to look for the grooms and brides for this event?
Dana: The four of us were decided upon by our personal contacts. There are very few gay people who would face the media in public. Furthermore, we need to take care of the visual details, like whether the couples would look good together in front of the cameras. In this aspect, the selection process was not easy.
Irene: Do you have any other thoughts which you would like to share with the Singaporean friends?
Dana: We hope that we can help more people realize that love between same-sex couples are just as beautiful as heterosexual couples, and it shouldn't be demonized with all sorts of bad names. If we have inspired some people who are working in gay activism, that would be an additional bonus.
On a more personal note, wearing the wedding gown for the first time has left a profound impression on me. I believe any woman would feel very happy in it.