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Photography by Amy Chyan
Toronto hosted a mass LGBTQ wedding June 26 to celebrate World Pride Week. A total of 110 gay couples married at Casa Loma in Toronto, North America's only full sized castle. The interfaith ceremony in the castle's garden terrace included officiants from the Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, New Thought, Humanist, Roman Catholic, Hindu, and Sikh faiths--as well as many well-wishers who joined the celebration. We found three couples who shared their story and their big day.
Colin Gunther & Richard Laslett (Australia)
"When we're not married, I can't call him my husband," laughed Richard Laslett, 57, of Australia. That was before they got married.
Laslett and his now husband Colin Gunther, 62, have been together for 37 years. The couple met at a Christmas party and a week later, Gunther moved in. On their wedding day, they are poised and composed, with matching button up shirts.
Before getting married, the Melbourne based couple had been on holiday for over five months, re-connecting because it took them away from "the routine of everyday life". Even their wedding outfits were a product of travel. Pieces were picked up serendipitously from different countries they'd visited, with the final belt being purchased in Toronto 72 hours before they tied the knot.
Same-sex marriage in Australia is not legally recognized at the moment. Although gay couples are not discriminated against, the federal law sees civil union and domestic partnership as "insufficient." Moreover, gay marriages officiated outside of the country, such as Laslett and Gunther's, are not valid.
"It's important for young people," said Gunther, on the significance of getting married. For Laslett, their new Canadian marriage license is more than just a piece of paper. "It means being accepted, recognized and getting through to our politicians in Australia," he said.
"And then we can go back and go 'Look!' " said Gunther, wide-eyed and smirking, as he showed off an imaginary wedding band on his ring finger. "There has to be a starting point somewhere."
Gavin Crawford & Kyle Tingley (Canada)
Right after their wedding, Canadian comedian and actor Gavin Crawford and husband Kyle Tingley returned to where they first met.
Eighteen years ago, Crawford and Tingley met while doing plays at the Buddies In Bad Times Theatre, the world's longest running and largest queer theatre.
After the wedding, Crawford performed a set titled "Vicious Bitches" for World Pride Week.
Tingley live tweeted their wedding, including showing off their rings.
Their family and friends, who were more excited than they were about the wedding, joined the couple on their big day.
For the Toronto couple, every time the thought of marriage popped up, they went on a vacation instead. In Canada, same-sex marriage is legal and has been countrywide since 2005.
"This group wedding makes Canada a beacon of equality," Tingley said. "It's more important than our own wedding."
"It's important to be apart of something to send a message," added Crawford, who acknowledged that not everyone lives in a country where same-sex marriage is legal.
Two days before their wedding day, Crawford shuffled through an envelope on the kitchen counter in the couple's home and pulled out their marriage license and paperwork. He's energetic and even more so as he re-reads their names.
"I still get a little charged up with the rings," Crawford said.
"You do?" asked a surprised Tingley.
Without speaking another word, Crawford ran upstairs and returned with a small black box. Inside, two silver bands nestled together. A navy blue line and canary yellow line wrap around the circumference of the bands.
"It just seems like an added bonus," explained Crawford. "Like marriage plus."
Cindy Su & Lana Yu (Taiwan)
Taiwanese couple Cindy Su and Lana Yu, both 32, met through a mutual friend four years ago in Taiwan. Getting married means moving on to the next stage of life.
"It's actually possible," said Su as she gazed at Yu, who sat beside her on the couch the day before their wedding. "We love each other and can be together." Their hands magnetized together before a gentle palm squeeze.
In addition to getting married, the couple will undergo artificial insemination while in Canada, trying for baby number one out of the two they plan to have.
Taiwan has hosted the largest pride parade in Asia and is the most gay friendly Asian country, however same-sex marriage is illegal. Due to cultural and societal taboo, many only come out to their friends and work colleagues at most.
"My neigbour can be gay, as long as it's not my family," Su said of the Taiwanese mentality.
A draft of bill for marriage equality has passed the first reading in Taiwan's Legislature and is now in queue for the second reading. If the bill passes, Taiwan will be the first Asian country to allow same-sex marriages.
In February, the couple started the "Lobby Alliance for LGBT Human Rights" in Taiwan. The group hopes to push for legalization of gay marriage, encourage gay friendly businesses and more to come out without shame.
"We want to make a difference in voting," Su said, who used her expertise as a coder to make a website showing voting patterns of Taiwanese politicians on gay marriage. "If we don't take responsibility, who will?"
On their wedding day, in slender lace adorned dresses, Su and Yu wiped away each others' tears during the mass ceremony.
"I'm lucky to find Cindy," Yu said softly. "It's the first time in my life I feel happy because I can see our future."
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