It is an unlikely match. One is a retired teacher living in bustling Beijing, and the other a laborer from rural China who delivers mineral water to his home. What makes this love affair more unusual, however, is the fact that they are both elderly men.
On January 21, the couple posted a video with their declaration of love, addressing those attacking their relationship. The video was shared on Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter, under the handle @两个老头的爱情 or “Love Between Two Old Guys.” The retired teacher looked directly into the camera, sounding defiant,
“The two of us are old men. But a little bit of romantic love happened between us. Just a little bit. So what? What does our love have to do with you? America is giving out marriage licenses to gay lovers. We are not even lovers. We are not there yet. Why are you against it? We are just kissing. What’s the big deal? We are just good together… Don’t be so stubborn. Don’t be so closed-off.”
“I love you, little baby,” His partner chimed in and gave him a big kiss.
A few days later, the couple announced that they planned to hold a wedding ceremony on January 30 and live-cast it on the Chinese video sharing site, www.6.cn.
Attitudes towards homosexuality have begun to change among certain groups in China, particularly young urban Internet users who may be accustomed to news of celebrities coming out of the closet or have friends or acquaintances who are openly gay. In 2012, a young gay couple also held a wedding that was live-tweeted on China’s social media.
However, old prejudices persist. The elderly couple revealed in a tweet on January 18 that their relatives called them “shameless” and “perverted.” On January 30, right after their wedding banquet, they tweeted,
“Our wedding was going along smoothly and happily, but my son, who is an animal, disrupted the event, flipping tables and shooing away guests. His actions stripped away our dignity and deeply pained us. Our followers on Sina Weibo, QQ and other social media users who supported us were all saddened and disappointed since the “live broadcasting” of our wedding had to be stopped. Why is it that strangers can give us their blessings but my own son can not? He has no heart. The child I raised ends up undermining my happiness.”
The tweet attracted more than 10,000 retweets and 7,700 comments on Sina Weibo. While many simply voiced their warm support or sneering disdain for the couple’s high-profile actions, others expressed more complex views.
Many commentators seem to have sympathies for homosexual couples, but still believe that this elderly couple should not have agitated their families. One user commented, “I would give you my support on Weibo, but if I were one of your children, I would probably do something much worse than flipping tables and shooing away guests.” Another agreed that they should have kept a low-profile because of their age, “It’s not like some young people these days, having never been married and [their sexual orientation] is accepted by those around them. These grandpas are not very considerate.”
@cchh66882010 tweeted, “Some say they should not have gotten married [since they were gay], but in that day and age, who dared to come out of the closet? Indeed, from one perspective, their wives and families are suffering. But if this couple doesn’t step up to the plate, the acceptance of gays and legalization of gay marriage would never progress.”
The couple seems determined to fight to the end, tweeting on January 18, “Social background, occupation and gender would not affect our love. We are determined to be together and never part!”