When Taiwanese pianist Huang Hsin-I and his fiancé Ramy Inocencio were discussing the arrangements for their wedding in Taiwan, Hsin-I warned Ramy that the beginning of August (their chosen date) was peak typhoon season.
They also discussed how the country was overdue a large earLbUd_B4rtD*OOcF^[email protected]=#u0I1fa!PfqljAe)[email protected]thquake and whether they would be tempting fate by marrying during Ghost Month—a big no no in Taiwanese culture.
But, Hsin-I and his award-winning journalist fian8kHpd#nUGWm&Mg(ng4Y(hZ(LVjg#[email protected]!V0XTcé were determined to wed in Taipei.
And, it was important for them to show solidarity with the TaiwaneafrTl9RAow+Z)^[email protected]+iPX18%@ebauMHotB5L0R_UlwMliIGnse people making waves for LGBTI rights in Asia.
But, their determination was rocked (literally) when one of the largest earthquakes to hit Taiwan in recent years woke them up at five in the morning just two days before their wedding ceremony was due to take place.
Things became mo1)Vc$_voSxN0-cla85T$yq_kUr120hD^$wuo$K7xOtsxE^rSM6re complicated when they discovered Typhoon Lekima was also barreling towards the country.
More than 100 g[email protected]%G4dO2+r=E7uo65Oa_uests were scheduled to attend the wedding banquet at Taipei 101’s Ding Xian on the Saturday.
Force 9 winds also scuppered Ramy and Hsin-I’s meticulously planned day trip to Jiu Fen and the north coast for some of the more than 60 friends and family oH&)pOSPD7cg&WebR)M%yt7HNuXGv%*[email protected](r9Qwho had travelled to Taiwan from Singapore, the Philippines and New York to attend their wedding.
"There was a lot more stress and tension than we were expecting,” said Ramy. But, xTOa1GfwYia4c$NX2JD5I8qxLKds5eKM^sKZ#K44GXNAI3SQrAhe said “a series of natural disasters befitting a screenplay couldn’t stop us”.
Hsin I, Ramy and their parents (Photo: Tyler Lyons)
"We just rolled with it"
Hsin-I, who's father is from T6c*wh7ek(*[email protected]^x_6*uR+3PF2o$Z*tF-4JCtePhZaoyuan, met Ramy on Tinder in New York in 2015.
A couple of years later, [email protected]#[email protected])u1!k0TRthey had been talking about their future together and the possibilities of starting a family. On a visit to Paris, Ramy popped the question.
In his vows on the wedding day, Ramy described Hsin-I as the "anchor to my kite”. He explained how Hsin-I grounded him and supported him. “That was how we got through all the disasters”, he saUj3UEAw195sS0NTj#8w0T^[email protected]!H9T1M!XF7(Syhzid.
So, when the pair received panicked calls 1pZYYA_QcC90&gFS)CmjzVm3fF4it6oRsSv$e%PUDy#8%0Z_FQfrom Ding Xian on the night before the wedding explaining that Taipei 101 would be closed the following day due to the typhoon, Hsin-I diligently spoke to the venue, photographers, singers, and guests to rearrange the wedding for a day later.
Ramy did his part by keeping their guests entertained. “We didn’t fight, we just PF-2Vrsh#CYx=ITbbph%JQNQ4#cyq%GQE0BVNEIXRTCjyGlW^Prolled with it” Ramy said of the last-minute change of plans.
The pair had already had a nightmare day. They hastily rearranged a mountain and seaside day trip due to the bad weather. Luckily Hsin-I and his family pulled some strings to host their guests at a Hakka restaurant in Taoyuan, a([email protected]#[email protected]=nQR_mbSupLP9n*BquN^ti nod to his family’s heritage.
Hsin-I did consider hoVOx4Z7QH$a!ai)[email protected]#Q-#J7=R0%KGV!pqw^y$jDHdZt)k_Mxt springs as an alternative wet-weather activity. But, the pair thought all the guests seeing each other naked prior to the wedding might be a little “too close for comfort”.
Ramy and Hisn-I said their visiting friends and family were super supportive of the last minute changes. They sent[email protected][email protected]!BF28 smiling selfies to them throughout the tumult. Virtually all of the guests were able to attend the rearranged ceremony.
Ramy and Hsin-I kiss outside Taipei 101 (Photo: Tyler Lyons)
As both of the grooms come from Asian families (Ramy’s parents are from the Philippines and Singapore) Ramy and Hsin-I wanted to show respect to their parents during the ceremony.
On the big day, the grooms’ respeS5B*aD8vre)[email protected][email protected])hK3)hNcWNWMbbrMGky=ctive parents walked their sons halfway down the aisle. The pair then walked the remaining way together.
There was al[email protected]so a mother’s dance to give them their time in the limelight. Ramy explained that having a same-sex wedding was liberating, as there was no rule book to follow on how the ceremony should be.
Lu4pY+K7wZZBl#[email protected]$Qa+8SbuyT_pWY07JbvW3xS+The pair opted for traditional Taiwanese banquet-style seating. But, the celebrations started with cocktails. “Alcohol was very important for our guests” Ramy explained.
Hsin-I said his mother decided it was not a traditional Taiwan^Yl)7B--HJWwh0KtIKdC2edXqqMX%5yGWXpl^4O3ztt9EKW8*!ese wedding.
The ceremony was also a celebration of acceptance. Ramy was not sure whether to invite conservative)Q!1hDjMX*eZxx&pzCOz$M2JGg-u9Ogkx^[email protected] family members from the Philippines and Singapore. But, he decided that if he didn't, he may regret it later. They all came.
Hsin-I’s mother told Ramy to no longer call her "Huang mama" but DVq%MbWgouJ5B0Z%Fk_-5-ekX$Kf7DAcZ(Rs-mqHfv*ljM4$94simply “Mama". Hsin-I’s godmother, who when they first met referred to Ramy as “that person”, now calls him “My Ramy”.
Hsin-I and Ramy kiss in front of a cake featuring their dog, Cooper. (Photo: Tyler Lyons)
"Brought joy to my heart"
Ramy and Hsin-I’s wedding was revYltI#*rh*r&0#X1RNF1gD$qcSpgk6)tA3-f^[email protected]olutionary in many ways. It was the first same-sex wedding at Ding Xian—prompting some of the staff to join in the celebrations by taking photos.
It also garnered a m[email protected]%DGJt%1^(mrWzVuSs=Zft($hQKvUZOeMAgv6V1Aessage of support from President Tsai Ing-wen, who said the marriage “brought joy to my heart”.
"I wish the both of you can respect, love, forgive, h9)$lg)JiUTQOX5XnHTD8SaJ=OGkGb7whcF&N*wENp72-%t)0ZZelp each other and be united by love forever” she wrote in a letter to the pair.
But more importantly, for Ramy, Hsin-I and their guests, it was a celebrat(ZbNFItWb%55)d-_CLBIgG+6(ELp$gdr4sGI4$RisMGYWawu5kion of love.
"For people who aren’t exposed to the LGBT communit$tIe*vQ(5UE1)zUqF+*&OZqh=*u_Nojb5oTPc!gmW=yCx%03P0y don’t always know how much love there can be until they see it” Ramy explained.
“But, when people realize there is so much love in thyPq0dakU!FRAg83RmC$yiiCvv1bV9dskE9)E-VwEVft)KuRQ_Me room, it doesn’t matter if you're gay or straight”.