2hmefq8weddings_luc05_50740193For seven Chinese gay couples, a trip to California offered something that wasn’t legal at home: marriage certificates. The couples were among hundreds who entered a high-profile online contest offering an all-expenses-paid American dream wedding sponsored by a pair of Chinese Internet companies. The seven couples were selected from among more than 2,000 based on videos they submitted detailing their love stories, after Internet users voted for their top 10 favorites on Taobao, Alibaba’s popular e-commerce site.

xu-na-hugs-her-new-wife20140909_GayMarriagesWest Hollywood Mayor Lindsey Horvath officiated the wedding ceremonies at West Hollywood Library for six gay and one lesbian couple who managed to get U.S. visas. The same place where two summers ago, gay couples married en masse after same-sex marriage became legal in California.

u7bwgOne of the newlyweds Xue Mengyao sneaked a look at her bride-to-be, Xu Na, getting her makeup done and wearing a long white dress with lace and pearls. Asked how Xu looked, Xue couldn’t answer. She said if she did, she would start crying and ruin her own makeup. “First sight,” she said, recalling when she first knew she would fall in love with Xu. “First sight.” The women, both in their 20s, met while volunteering at the Beijing LGBT Center. They were in a crowded, noisy room, but there in the middle, Xue spotted a woman who just radiated beauty and confidence.

Couples kiss after getting married at a group wedding for seven same-sex couples from China, in West Hollywood, California
Couples kiss after getting married at a group wedding for seven same-sex couples from China, in West Hollywood, California

During the ceremony the couples recited their vows in both English and Chinese, 978y28often while shedding tears. Geng Le, Blued’s founder and chief executive, said that while many online media outlets in China were interested in covering this event, Chinese television stations might hesitate, because homosexuality was still a sensitive topic there.

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lesley07Big kiss,

Lesley Middleton

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