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 wac_NZ*qJRSkN#*H80(MimR5fUUz+(ol00Gp5dPI^3dMJ3_e-+q2s overdue a large earthquake 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 fiancéWZ-=_(Wt54h*wxZVmznC1NUBT#plR3$G0*GVqvysAALjPL-oAA were determined to wed in Taipei.
They wanted to celebrate Taiwan’s landmark move to [email protected]*xn2Precognize same-sex marriage earlier this year.
And, it was important for tqi^9NbjEQnKRYyU_hPzAaD=GjPQeaKz*Q%6w1P8uNvlP=K&6W*hem to show solidarity with the Taiwanese 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 more complicated when they discovuZD8RBJe7VHy9jFM!A!95xO0j4oilID=g$9&aY*yuImQV8KoTtered Typhoon Lekima was also barreling towards the country.
More than 100 guests were scheduled to attend the wedding banquet at Taipei 101’s Ding Xian2(!1!#B2mx4k_NxcAUQilITd120yer+lq0AMsP3nF#-g#Xp68E on the Saturday.
Force 9 winds also scuppered Ramy and Hsin-I’s meticulously planned day trip to Jiu Fen and the north coast for some of the more than 60 friends and family who had travelled to Taiwan from Singapore, the Pu)r&JK&%jDtzY_E*Rd=xKAPnlKG^)lQm5=xT95*tpLdQ-NFVsqhilippines and New York to attend their wedding.
"There was a lot more stress and tension than we&6zS_hhoMYi^r9NM*!(h5Gjg%gvA^VzHXR+ONC(ho-ALIJ=vkl were expecting,” said Ramy. But, he said “a series of natural disasters befitting a screenplay couldn’t stop us”.
Hsin I, Ramy and their parents (Photo: Tyler Lyons)
"We just rolled with it"
HsiW%!44Zm1of4TALbJ39HzZYfeh$T&XKRwCP$C6$iBMcWlbA^M7Gn-I, who's father is from Taoyuan, met Ramy on Tinder in New York in 2015.
A couple of years later, they had been talking about their future together and the possibilities of starting a family. On a visit to Paris, Ramy popped the quecf82+RWTeEoS39W-JFlHQ%e$=4jo1EXub2([email protected]stion.
In his vows on the wedding day, Ramy described Hsin-I as tNzs5zDBZAMS67pjGifPZv4HHAL8Pja&c*af6xWn3j3-nptz8uahe "anchor to my kite”. He explained how Hsin-I grounded him and supported him. “That was how we got through all the disasters”, he said.
So, when the pa[email protected]&_5cmXpN^x++r-3GGgWy22WAqMD7u#++bss9S(ML7ptir received panicked calls from 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 0!xk_5lP4bU^xS$3r9_%vOBpethNvPmEZ4kAp_bzZ!$q_+3tTYkeeping their guests entertained. “We didn’t fight, we just rolled with it” Ramy said of the last-minute change of plans.
The L_YPR%R%3PVsslss&p!)F2PIHl9Z#[email protected]^yumLpair 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 nod to his family’s heritage.
Hsin-I did consider hot sprinubv7CfTaE=d%$=-mIZ-sQ9nT_2mhF)c7w&xfa8TAbA1=623w8Zgs as an alternative wet-weather activity. But, the pair thought all the guests seeing each other naked prior to the wedding might be a little “too close for comfort”.
Ramy and HisnMLAk5B-tv2Sc4-BErvN4$sIqogvMRYXK2hMXI-EhKJ8&MEtynN-I said their visiting friends and family were super supportive of the last minute changes. They sent 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 bigrIWIVyzmHcXgiFgmQ#CVfZyTso3FDx8uN*#jiZ7iaNxgjoqYld day, the grooms’ respective parents walked their sons halfway down the aisle. The pair then walked the remaining way together.
There was also 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 ce9EA9n%q4oZ7e_Xwvyb2+YHjoz+q%S2Mohgdtms2PJ6_Dy40l8Hremony should be.
Th-lCMd_!G+duOwPclqE+FfsTQRrRBxV!Xd-Kn!+6o$y2syUnJF)e pair opted for traditional Taiwanese banquet-style seating. But, the celebrations started with cocktails. “Alcohol was very important for our guests” Ramy explained.
Hsin-I said his mother decided it was not a H3LXIm0&(!gEH9t0XY&XHI-DJByT*AFyB!Zb$r0jgL-z30U%traditional Taiwanese wedding.
The ceremony was also a celebration of acceptance. Ramy was not sure whether to invite conservative family members from the Philim*+FTYLD&k+#[email protected]=AxunjC9ScyLr^r8&b95i+$HLELXOyppines and Singapore. But, he decided that if he didn't, he may regret it later. They all came.
Hsin-I’s mother told Ramy to no longer call her "Huang mama" but simply “Mama". Hsin-I’s godmoE!D^%[email protected]^8LgS65%b2DxDxx&rgAFther, who when they first met referred to Ramy as “that person”, now calls him “My Ramy”.
Ramy’s uncle from the Philippines, meanwhile, made a point of personally welcoming Hsin[email protected]#GLV+A8k3(YpWfN2J0ZHyTVC=Is66RoDPY9Ee6H$o9A-I to the family.
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 revolutionary in many ways. It was the first same-sex wedding at Ding Xian—prompting some of the staff to f&_Ai8mTE(+WaoqU+xt6ac_0fshr5O(Q09nBC!whZl(#Mq9REAjoin in the celebrations by taking photos.
It also garnered a message of support from President Tsai Ing-wen, who said the marriage “brought joy to my heaw+CEQy!lQ(ECRbvZsDfrvqt#PEh+A0XoaoI2!W8Xy)+=tKpFrt”.
"I wish the both of you can respect, love, forgive, help each other and be uniL%^icpZ5IOFVB31U&TV$YgXMb#v2p)1sUW=s^%fYd&bH5zEZsdted by love forever” she wrote in a letter to the pair.
"For people who aren’t exposed to the LGBT community don’t always know how much love there can be until they see it”[email protected]$AoE8rL$!1HsPmt$*zf+m_5MKKupZLiDXYnLQ Ramy explained.
“But, when peiqXctH*&VPPz8KYTF)4%NmBsG3vr5%^7kBW4lSRR%r$lLpBnnAople realize there is so much love in the room, it doesn’t matter if you're gay or straight”.