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I was pleased she liked me, but I had never dared to tell her the truth. Even from outside we could hear applause and the clatter of cameras snapping photos. After saying the oath, I took out the ring I had bought secretly in China. In Chinese culture, it's really important to have our parents' blessing when we marry.
When I started dating Li, I worried about how other — mostly straight — people would think. I'd known I was gay since my early teens at junior school, but hadn't told anyone. Finally, it dawned on her that we could not change our sexual orientation.
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So, in 2010, with the blessing of family, relatives and friends, I had my fake wedding. We learned we had another choice if we were gay in this world — to come out of the closet. For ages she had regarded me as the "best and most reliable friend". In 2015, after Li and I had been together 11 years, Pflag China joined with two websites to take selected gay couples to get legally married in the United States. We told our love story via photos, videos and online. All the sweet feelings and mixed emotions came out. As a volunteer, I was responsible for the stage equipment and sound.
She even once said that if Li had a sister, she would marry her to me. Among the stories of 400 gay couples, ours stood out, according to the judges. All dressed up, Li and I waited impatiently to make our entrance to the ceremony. I could tell Li was very nervous — his palm was sweaty. The marriages would not be legally recognised in China, but when the nine couples entered in their exquisite red finery, with blessings and red envelopes from their parents and a traditional wedding song playing, I couldn't stop my tears flowing.
So the weddings of nine couples on the cruise ship is not only their way to pursue happiness, but also shows their courage in making a stand for LGBT people. So I experienced three gay weddings — a fake one, my real one, and the mass wedding on the ship.