Two women walking down the aisle in a traditional Chinese wedding ceremony. It was a sight I never thought I would see in Singapore.
Straight people reading this probably won’t understand the significance of it. After all, the marriage wouldn’t even be legally recognised here. And recent years have seen an increasing number of Singaporean same-sex couples tie the knot. So this isn’t a big deal right?
What made this particular wedding almost miraculous was that it was attended by the couple’s entire family, extended relatives included. This may not sound like much. But for most queer couples, the thought of having relatives at their nuptials would be almost inconceivable. The drama that would ensue would make any Taiwanese drama seem tame in comparison.
You see, unbeknownst to many, the most common response from Asian parents when they learn of their queer child’s sexuality is to tell them to hide it. Reason being that many believe that it would somehow be a stain upon the family name.
So when same-sex couples do decide to get married, more often than not, they do it away from the prying eyes of their relatives. Many do it without even informing their parents.
So naturally, I found it hard to wrap my head around the fact that a same-sex couple managed to get married openly in Singapore with the full support of their extended family. And that’s what makes this story I’m about to tell so bloody amazing.
Dear Straight People,
Meet 30-year old Jolyn and 31-year old Gillyn; a lesbian couple who got married openly in Singapore!
Together for the past 6 years, the couple tied the knot 2 years ago in the States. They then returned to Singapore where they managed to find a hotel accommodating enough to hold a traditional Chinese wedding banquet.
We had 10 tables with full attendance!
We were so grateful to all the guests who made their way down to attend this special day of ours.
While their wedding may seem like the very definition of a happily ever after, their love story didn’t quite start out so Disney like. In fact, Gillyn and Jolyn first met in a toilet!
The year was 2012. Highly intoxicated during a night out at a Thai club, a then 25-year old Gillyn went into the restroom to take a breather. It was there that she met Jolyn for the first time, who was with her then girlfriend.
Fuelled by liquid courage, Gillyn told Jolyn that they were being too loud.
Gillyn: Jolyn was stunned when I told her off and I only remember her smiling sheepishly back at me. I can’t remember what she said since I was half drunk lol.
Coincidentally, the pair had a mutual friend. And it was through that mutual friend that allowed them to get to know one another better.
Before long, sparks started to fly between the two.
After a couple of failed attempts, Jolyn finally succeeded in getting Gillyn to be her girlfriend while on a trip to Johor Bahru.
Gillyn: When I said “yes”, suddenly there was a loud BANG! Someone hit her car from the back!
I think she was too happy so she just smiled and told the guy “It’s ok, don’t worry about it!”
To everyone who knows her, her car is her everything (but) I think she was just over the moon about me saying yes that nothing could spoil her mood at that point in time.
After 4 years of courtship, the couple decided to get hitched!
As both of them wanted to propose to the other, the couple ended up having two separate proposals.
Gillyn: I emailed the newspaper and I had a full page space declaring my love for her with a cute cartoon. It was the craziest thing I have ever done.
Not one to be outdone by Gillyn’s very public proposal, Jolyn organised an elaborate beach proposal for her other half.
Jolyn: Her newspaper declaration stressed me out!
I went to Sentosa where I booked the beach, engaged a band, sang my proposal song and popped the question! I had stage fright so my voice was like super soft and probably trembling.
During the preparation, my brother and bridesmaids carried all the items, helped me with ALL the decorations as they were afraid I would be too tired to perform and sing well for my wife. It’s my blessing to have them.
The couple then flew to Santorini in Greece to have their pre-wedding photoshoot before getting hitched in the States the year after.
Celebrating their wedding in Singapore however, wasn’t quite as straight forward. Most of the hotels the couple approached turned them down. When one hotel finally accepted their request, they demanded that the couple not wear a gown during the ceremony.
Of course we rejected that offer.
HOW IS IT THE BRIDE IS GETTING MARRIED BUT IS NOT ALLOWED TO WEAR A GOWN ON HER BIG DAY??
It took some time. But eventually, they found a hotel that was happy to host them and did not make any strange requests. Like any other couple getting married, Gillyn and Jolyn had the morning gatecrash and tea ceremonies on top of the wedding banquet.
Organising a same-sex wedding ceremony in Singapore may have involved more hassle than usual. But the pay-off was well worth it.
Gillyn: My dad kept tearing during the morning tea ceremony session!
It was a really touching moment, he said “If Mummy was here to witness it, she would be very happy.”
The wedding itself was a massive success, with all 10 tables filled.
The wedding was a blast! We were so grateful to all the guests who made their way down to attend this special day of ours!
We had many other friends that wanted to attend and we had to disappoint them because we wanted to stick to our plan of 10 tables so that we could attend to all our close friends and family.
The union of Gillyn and Jolyn may not be recognised in the eyes of the State. But the massive success of their wedding is a clear indication that their marriage is very much recognised by their loved ones. And if you were to ask me, that is the kind of happily ever after I would much rather have.
I’ve always found it a tad sad that Singaporean queer couples almost always have to resort to getting married overseas in secret. Celebrating one of the most special days of your life should be done in the company of loved ones. It shouldn’t have to feel like an elopement.
For a community fighting so hard to gain acceptance, the hardest acceptance to receive is often from one’s family. And I can think of no higher honour than to have one’s loved ones present at their wedding.
So while this story may lack relatability, it does give us hope.
Hope that perhaps one day, having your entire family at your wedding won’t seem like such a fantasy anymore.
Written by Sean Foo – www.instagram.com/mrseanfoo
Watch Their Video Interview Here:
Once again, Dear Straight People would like to thank Gillyn and Jolyn for sharing their story with us.
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