Ten same-sex couples from China were married in a public ceremony Tuesday morning in West Hollywood. It was a destination wedding sponsored by the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.
Why West Hollywood and not Beijing? Homosexuality was decriminalized by the Chinese government in 1997, but it still doesn't recognize same-sex marriages.
Among the ten couples were newlyweds Liu Xin and Hu Zhidong. They'd been in a relationship for over nine years before they decided to make the commitment. To make the trip, Liu and Hu competed in a contest with 400 other couples, sharing photos of themselves, writing essays and even producing a video to make their case.
Liu and Hu are both young, they live in Beijing and work for internet companies. Speaking through a translator, they said they feel society and the government are becoming more accepting of LGBT people. Hu mentioned that the government now participates in World AIDS Day.
But still, there's work to be done, they both agreed. Liu said a friend of his who underwent surgery in a Beijing hospital had to sign a form before his boyfriend could visit him.
Hu and Liu flew back to Beijing on Wednesday. First on their agenda is a conversation with their parents. Like a lot of the couples at the West Hollywood ceremony, they hadn't come out to their parents. "We're a little bit nervous," they said through the translator. "We're also excited. We think our parents will accept us."