West Hollywood to Marry 10 Same-Sex Couples from China

West Hollywood to Marry 10 Same-Sex Couples from China

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In a picture taken on March 8, 2011 gay couples kiss during their ceremonial 'wedding' as they try to raise awareness of the issue of homosexual marriage, in Wuhan, in central China's Hubei province. Homosexuality was considered a mental disorder in China until 2001. Today, gays face crushing social and family pressure and many remain in the closet as a result, despite gradual steps towards greater acceptance. Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images
In a picture taken on March 8, 2011 gay couples kiss during their ceremonial ‘wedding’ as they try to raise awareness of the issue of homosexual marriage, in Wuhan, in central China’s Hubei province. Homosexuality was considered a mental disorder in China until 2001. Today, gays face crushing social and family pressure and many remain in the closet as a result, despite gradual steps towards greater acceptance. Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images

The City of West Hollywood, as part of its Pride month activities in June, will host a special group wedding for 10 same-sex couples who will be visiting from China. The couples have been selected as winners from an online contest hosted by Alibaba, a Chinese e-commerce company based Hangzhou, Zhejiang — the aim of the contest and wedding celebration is to raise awareness and foster acceptance of same-sex relationships in China. The 10 couples were selected from more than 400 entries.

The wedding ceremony and celebration will take place on Tuesday, June 9, 2015, at 9 a.m. at the West Hollywood Library, located at 625 N. San Vicente Boulevard. West Hollywood Mayor Lindsey P. Horvath will officiate the ceremony; local and regional city, county, and federal officials will join with community members to celebrate this occasion.

“West Hollywood has long been at the center of the marriage equality movement,” said Mayor Horvath. “In addition to fighting for full equality under the law, our City officials performed special wedding ceremonies at West Hollywood Park in 2008, and at West Hollywood City Hall as soon as Proposition 8 was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013. We hope that this wedding will send a strong message, especially to LGBT people across the globe, that the City of West Hollywood celebrates your right to marry and welcomes your destination wedding as a symbol of our commitment to equality for all.”

The wedding ceremony and celebration is the result of collaborative effort including the City of West Hollywood, Visit West Hollywood, and various participating organizations, including: Taobao, a Chinese online shopping marketplace; Blued, a China-based social app for gay, bisexual, and curious men; the Beijing LGBT Center, PFLAG China, and China Luxury Advisors. The Los Angeles LGBT Center, the world’s largest provider of programs and services for LGBT people, will offer the couples a tour of its facilities and will host an evening reception following the morning events.

“With more than 40 percent of the residential population identifying as LGBT, the City of West Hollywood has long been one of the most popular gay travel destinations,” said Bradley Burlingame, President and CEO of Visit West Hollywood. “From a simple civil ceremony to a lavish rooftop affair, West Hollywood offers not just unique wedding venues but an overarching spirit of inclusion and a longstanding support for the LGBT community that is woven into the city’s foundation.”

While homosexuality was decriminalized in China in 1997, same-sex marriages are not recognized by the Chinese government. As a result, many same-sex couples have looked abroad for inspiration and recognition of their relationship. In February 2015, Alibaba launched its “We Do” campaign on Taobao to celebrate the love of committed same-sex couples in China. Same-sex couples from throughout China were encouraged to submit a short video to showcase their love stories. The top 10 contenders were selected to win a free trip to West Hollywood to tie-the-knot and enjoy a mini honeymoon and a pre-wedding shopping session hosted by the Beverly Center. The campaign is likely to be seen by same-sex couples in China as a symbol of friendship and acceptance. The trip is sponsored by Bliss, a Chinese bedding brand.

China’s largest gay social app, Blued, will follow the couples on their journey with a camera crew to document the whole trip. The documentary will be released on China’s top online video platforms including Youku and Tudou and is expected to receive widespread attention from China’s ever-more-visible LGBT community.

For more information about the contest and wedding event, contact Charlie Gu, China Luxury Advisors at charlie@chinaluxuryadvisors.com or at (323) 434-2480. For additional information, please contact Kiran Hashmi, Deputy to Mayor Lindsey P. Horvath at (323) 848-6460. For people who are deaf or hard of hearing, please call TTY (323) 848-6496.

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