“Love knows no distance; it hath no continent; its eyes are for the stars…”Gilbert Parker
Of the 195 countries in the world, only some recognise same-sex marriage. In Asia, we have seen Taiwan paving the way as the first country to have legalised the freedom to love. Regardless of gender or sexual preference! In 2018, India repealed section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, making homosexuality legal in the country. We hope that more and more countries will allow gay romance to end in a happy gay marriage.
As the world progresses in science, technology, and notions of humanity, the fight to flip pre-conceived perceptions of LGBTQ+ marriage remains an uphill battle, especially against religion and cultural archetypes across the globe, defending their doctrines and arguably archaic philosophies.
As a result, societies whose politics lie on the more liberal scale, seemingly more susceptible and open to a new construct of love, remains consistently dumbfounded and impervious to change as they vacillate between appeasing archaic views of the world and the growing generations of enlightened who view love as an ambiguous and acceptable construct of many forms.
In spite of the vociferous push back from the conservatives, these gay couples rejoice and celebrate in their own established version of happiness. Defying in merriment the annoying disapproval of various communities – and continue to thrive in it.
The following is an account of a love story of two gay individuals who met 7 years ago. In one of Southeast Asia’s most populated cities. Against the elements and the crowd, both Edmund and João got together. The traditional pre-Grindr and Jack’d era – entirely by destiny.
The Love Story
Taking cover in one of the malls from the torrential rain in Kuala Lumpur, Edmund, born and raised in the city, caught eye of João walking hastily towards the shelter. João, born and raised in Portugal, was then based in Malaysia for work. In the most unlikely of situation and places, Cupid shot his arrow in mischief and set the stage for a love play to begin.
Sheltered in the cover, both stole secret glances at each other, pretending to look past one another when eyes met. The whole time they had the eager desire to befriend each other. The ingredients for a love story thus concocted. A heavy rain, a heavy traffic, the bustle of people and an intense air of silence was all it took for these two lovebirds to chart their journey for the rest of their lives.
Unlike today’s flirtexting era, “seeking” came in form of a perambulated game of tag. Settling on one of the benches in the mall after four glorious floors of “stalking”, a thirsty Edmund got himself a beverage before plucking up the courage to approach João at the bench.
Since Edmund has been in Singapore for work, while João is stationed in Malaysia, they travel back and forth every other week between the two countries to meet. Before their marriage, they made a promise to try and meet each other every week. This continued for a period of 7 years.
Now that they are happily married, they jokingly commented that it is a must to meet on the weekends. Traveling on a weekly basis certainly is no joke! In spite of the efforts to make it work, Edmund expressed that they truly enjoy each other company and spending time together. Like love birds, sitting together and watching TV shows became the serenity.
The proposal took place in Lisbon. Both sides of the family converged at Monserrate Palace, Sintra Portugal. Edmund had invited his family to visit Portugal, while João’s family based in Africa was also “coincidentally” returned to the country.
On the day of the proposal, the well-prepared Edmund went down on his knees and opened up his heart with much nervousness. It was in front of the families that he asked for João’s hands in marriage. One would think that it was an easy task, but it was not.
Edmund shared that his hands were shaking; legs were weak, all the time attempting to keep the red box of band well hidden. Words became jumbled. Despite all the preparation, nerves made his mind blank. Both men commented that it was not a piece of cake. However, the spirit of love was high and every little blunder made it more unforgettable and genuine. João said yes!
A Fairy Tale
As part of the marginalised in the society, to be recognised and revered by friends and families for their unconventional union is the purest love and magical moment for them.
At a place as Monserrate Palace, a historically rich and surreal site, the proposal was indeed a fairy tale. For their wedding, a whopping 1,000 roses were sprawled on the beach. If anything, this was the ideal marriage for the many romantics – straight and gay alike.
Trying to appease diverging opinions was not easy. Though they had a wedding planner to coordinate the wedding in Lisbon, ideas for the gay wedding was a major struggle for the couple. On many nights leading towards the wedding, both Edmund and João found themselves in heated disagreement.
However, a necessary ingredient that makes a relationship work is sometimes to take a step back and compromise. All to make the other half happy, and more importantly to make things work.
The decision to take charge of a set of the gay wedding was their resolve – Edmund on the lights and entertainment, João on the design and decoration. It is the perfect marriage of their ideas and personalities.
The entire journey took them a year to prepare for and it was an experience of the lifetime. #TheRoyalLisboyWedding was of love and labour indeed with their thoughts, ideas, and partnership realised.
On the day of the wedding, both love birds commenced with their “walk of the lifetime”, with fresh flora and fauna generous greeting them at every step. Their special day lasted till dusk, where at that point, they had their first official dance. It was enchanting for both Edmund and João.
The Meaning of Marriage
Both Edmund and João commented that it was the imperative move towards their next stage in life. A reassuring commitment to each other, and a symbolic matrimony to potentially be acknowledged in a country where gay marriage is legal. It was a couple goal for the marginalised to be equally treated as rightful partners – regardless of discrimination. It was their right to be happy.
Advice to the Community on Gay Marriage
Breathe and enjoy every second of the moment – go with the flow and relish in the bits and pieces of every step of the way. Wedding is really about celebrating the best of each other and with people that matters most.
The couple ended off this heartfelt interview by thanking their family members to be ever accepting and endearing – without them it was impossible to sail smoothly into this union.
In addition, both Edmund and João would like to thank Claudia, the Wedding Planner based in Lisbon, for her patience. Photographer Patrick from HeartPatrick for his amazing photo shots; 24 Robbers Swing Band for creating a memorable atmosphere; and none the least, Perry Wong for his amazing emcee skills.
When asked about their final word, Edmund and João both agreed that “every couple has their own version of happiness, and how they want their life to be, is ultimately themselves.”
|Melvin Chew vacillates between writing and working in a business environment because he knows that writing cannot be his means to an end – not in Singapore anyway. He is working to publish his collection of articles, to give the marginalised communities a voice, and hopes to collate them soon. Get to know him at melvinchew.com|