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13 Jul 2012

Just married! in Melbourne

Fridae's Melbourne-based writer Shinen Wong meets Nic and Tim, a couple who recently got married in Australia despite the lack of legal recognition and want to share their story to "put an Asian face to an issue that has been couched as a very ‘Western notion.'"

Once upon a time, two men met at a party in Singapore, as men sometimes do… Glances were exchanged, phone numbers, email addresses… 10 years later, in April this past year, these same two men got married in Melbourne, Australia. Nic, 33, was born in Singapore, and Tim, 30, in Australia. Both are of Singaporean Chinese heritage.

They released a video documenting their wedding on Youtube, and contacted Fridae to share their story with us. I met up with Tim and Nic on a cold wintry afternoon for lunch in Melbourne CBD, to learn more.

“We’re gay, we’re Christian, we’re Asian,” Tim asserted, stressing that these are not contradictory identities.

“We’d like to put an Asian face to an issue that has been couched as a very ‘Western notion.’ Gay people come from every single culture and ethnicity. We’d like to be able to say that we’ve done this, and maybe some other Asian couples might take the next step.”

“It’s about being visible,” Nic told me, “there are many other Singaporeans who hold probably quite small, closed events celebrating their relationship, but they’re not like us… they’re not out, telling the whole world. We got our families there, putting ourselves on the internet. My intention is about visibility.”

Congratulations to you both, Tim & Nic! Thank you for your courage, your honesty, and for sharing your story with us all.

All photos courtesy of Nic and Tim

Celebration despite lack of legal recognition

Even though same-sex marriage is still not recognised under Australian law (civil unions are permitted in the Australian Capital Territory, Tasmania and Victoria), when I asked them about why they would still decide to hold a ceremony, Nic told me, “This is about a celebration of our relationship.”

Indeed, one of the most moving things about watching the footage of their ceremony on Youtube, is seeing other Asian faces: friends and family who joined them as part of their ceremony, celebrating with them, moved and inspired by them, some even to tears.

Like many people making the pledge to go through holy matrimony, Tim experienced at first some “anxiety about marriage and in making such a public commitment.” No matter ethnic or cultural background, no matter their sexual orientation, this was about expanding the contours of their relationship, and pushing themselves to “the next level.”

The extraordinary thing about this, in this sense, is how perfectly ordinary this is…

After all, even without legal marriage, Nic & Tim are doing that which gay people have been doing for awhile; simply loving one another, and inviting our loved ones to witness the reality of our exposed hearts. Tim tells me that the whole marriage itself was a “rite of passage,” and Nic added that this has cemented their relationship with one another while also reconnecting and uniting them with friends and loved ones.

Tim tells me, “It was one of the best moments of my life.”

Nic and Tim were married by Free Community Church (Singapore)
Pastor Gary Chan

Asian identity

Tim and Nic discussed how disappointing it is that, of course, no Asian countries have as yet legalised same-sex marriage either, with Douglas Sanders’ most recent Fridae article suggesting that the countries that come closest to this would be Taiwan and Nepal.

At the same time, they are clear about not over-valourising ‘Western’ countries. 

Within the context of Australia, they say: “You see images and videos of people making a difference – making a stand for how timely it is to be giving recognition to relationships such as ours. But I hardly see any Asian faces in the mix. 

“It's strange – this concept of an Asian same-sex wedding – like the community views us as not Asian enough or that our sexual preferences are damaging the racial profile. And on the other hand, there is this invisibility to the Asian community in Australia – we are like the wizarding community of the Harry Potter universe – living side-by-side in this parallel world that somehow see us saunter past each other in the streets…” 

“But,” Tim adds, “if we are suspect Asians, I wonder if this gives us the ability to be ambassadors at the fringe, calling for greater awareness and acceptance?” 

The point of holding their ceremony was not to typify the existence of gay men within a ‘Western’ setting, but indeed, to send a message for Asian people to see that yes, this is possible for us, no matter who we are or where we are at. 

There is, of course, no one way to be Asian. The word ‘Asian’ itself can be misleading. It overgeneralises an incredibly diverse range of cultures and peoples, who only vaguely share a sense of history in common.

Much of Asia itself has historically been colonised by disparate forces, from the Mongolian Genghis Khan across China, including Tibetan territory, to the Han Chinese influence throughout East and Southeast Asia with Confucian values, to the Japanese attempt at colonisation during World War II, to the Khmer empire, to the British, French, Portuguese, and Dutch reaching many shores in the past 500 years.

Even that, of course, is changing, as people of Asian descent have been migrating out of Asia, all around the world for a few centuries now as well. Many of us speak non-Asian languages as our primary language. And of course, conversely, now Asian cultural and religious influences are very common in ‘Western’ countries… such as in the popularisation of kung fu, yoga, and Buddhism.

Singapore, of course, is a peculiar example of an Asian country… It stands out as being the only country where national education is conducted in most schools in English, and so we have a country which has, in many ways, succeeded at integrating some of the most visible markers of both “Western” and “Eastern” ideals, while simultaneously and slowly dissolving any meaningful distinction between these two terms.


I’ll be honest. Things are not looking too good for the institution of marriage. At the same time that same-sex couples are campaigning in countries the world over for relationship recognition, heterosexuals are leaving their marriages in droves.

While the exact figure of divorce rates vary from country to country, for those like myself who have been partially raised in ‘Western’ countries like the USA and Australia, I cannot help but be impacted by this statement, almost a proverb: ‘1 in 2 marriages end in divorce.’ It is a chilling and damning statement about marriage. It really does lend one to cynicism.

Not to mention that the history of marriage has been about far more than just romantic ideals. We hear that marriage has been about control of sexuality, about regulating the raging male libido, about managing inheritance and land, about the exchange of women as property. Indeed, as far as gender goes, marriage is often experienced as more liberating for men than for women, easily evidenced by seeing that, on average, women recover much sooner and thrive much more quickly after a divorce when compared to men.

But of course, same-sex couples do not even have the luxury of that sort of misery (yet). We have the opportunity, as gay people, to revive or reject, renew or indeed, even reinvent the meaning of marriage.

The additional reality is, across all cultures, same-sex couples have always existed, and have been recognised in many diverse ways. Many cultures have had configurations of family and kinship that are quite different from those we take for granted in many middle-class Western and Asian countries. These include matriarchal and lesbian ones, where it is women who tend to be householders, own property, who may have a wife, etc., to ones where one woman marries two brothers (e.g. Tibetan ‘fraternal polyandry’) to ones where men get married to women, but are even expected to have male concubines on the side to prove their virility (e.g. some Emperors of China)…

The sad thing is how most images we get exposed to in mainstream media tend toward exclusive heterosexuality, but this is no indictment of the extent to which same-sex couples have always found spaces where our love for one another could be consecrated and recognised by loving friends and family.

In this sense, then, Nic & Tim are lineage-holders, as much as they are trailblazers…

They both clearly recognise the power that their story could have in inspiring others, and so they have bravely volunteered to share it with us. It is such a privilege to hear Nic and Tim’s story, and to share in their joy. That we too can aspire to share our love with our own families, and to dare to call for love, acceptance, and celebration in return.

As Tim said: “If there’s an Asian little kid out there, and he’s struggling with his sexuality… Rather than saying ‘It gets better,’ I want to say, ‘Here is our wedding!’ It was moving, and people came, and we were really blessed with kindness… Here you go, just watch this video!”

Shinen Wong is an educator on issues of gender and sexuality, sexual health and social justice. He has worked in health promotion and culturally diverse community development. He enjoys hot chocolate when it's cold, and cycling even when it's raining. Shinen lives in Melbourne, Australia.



回應#1於於2012-07-15 17:13被作者刪除。
回應#2於於2012-07-15 17:13被作者刪除。
3. 2012-07-13 20:47  
Very encouraging, beautiful! Congratulations! 祝你们白头偕老,永浴爱河。
4. 2012-07-13 21:19  
5. 2012-07-13 21:30  
lovely couple.
6. 2012-07-13 21:33  
They're so beautiful! Swoon...
7. 2012-07-13 21:36  
congratulations,u guys are the inspiration of us .
8. 2012-07-13 21:42  
Touching, beautiful and surreal......
9. 2012-07-13 21:47  
I hope they enjoy the same feelings of love n happiness for a lifetime as they did on this day. A very loving portrait of love.
10. 2012-07-13 22:01  
thank you, nic and tim, for standing up and being counted. it matters that we all stand up for who we are, and not take for granted something or someone will be there to back us up. it is also important to be who we are, and not bow down to pressure to hide. some call this action brave, i call it natural. all the best for a happy and peaceful long life together. cheerio.
11. 2012-07-13 22:14  
you guys are adorable
12. 2012-07-13 22:50  
Congratulations=p Touching and Lovely
13. 2012-07-13 22:56  
what a treat. Lovely video. Wish you well, boys.
Greetings from Scotland where same sex marriage is just about to go through parliament.
Steve x
14. 2012-07-13 22:56  
congratulations , our example, haha
15. 2012-07-13 23:00  
Boy, if I did this, my ma will chop me up in 18 pieces and throw each piece in each layer of hell lol. Congrats and happiness to the couple even if I don't share the enthusiasm for a marriage heheh
16. 2012-07-13 23:34  
Congratulations! God bless you both!
17. 2012-07-13 23:51  
Wow congrats to you both, you had proved that true love still exists among gay couples!
18. 2012-07-14 00:53  
Congratulations from a married Singapore guy in Toronto. Similar to your story, my spouse discovered me through Fridae 4 years ago. Now we have been married 2 years ago and I have relocated in Toronto.
All I want to say is that a good married relationship does not end but begin after a beautiful marriage with the struggles in daily life.......
19. 2012-07-14 01:14  
i wish i could be as perfect as them
20. 2012-07-14 01:42  
Congratulations to the blessed couple.. :) Thanks for sharing your happiness with us online.
21. 2012-07-14 01:45  
22. 2012-07-14 02:00  
i try my best not to be envious, congrats! :D
23. 2012-07-14 02:11  
Congratulations !

24. 2012-07-14 02:17  
Awesome! Congratulations and have a great life together! :-)
25. 2012-07-14 03:35  
be strong and hold on to each other forever =)
26. 2012-07-14 04:33  
this is one small step for the open mindedness of the world... small... but still one step...

the video is so touching... i found myself feeling warm inside and teary-eyed... i wish the world was just that open minded or rather even a little more like the people that celebrated nic and tim's wedding... more civil and loving...

congratulations and have a very very happy and loving life together, guys!
27. 2012-07-14 05:09  
Congratulations, Nic and Tim. :-)
28. 2012-07-14 05:32  
29. 2012-07-14 06:29  
It's so nice to see two asian men together. Usually it's white & asian!
30. 2012-07-14 06:33  

but id like to comment on this line:

"Singapore, of course, is a peculiar example of an Asian country… It stands out as being the only country where national education is conducted in most schools in English"

the Philippines has long been using English in its educational system, as early as 1901... and several hundred years prior to that, Philippine universities had used Spanish as a medium of instruction...

Nevertheless, the topic is about the marriage, i hope an Asian country will soon make a law recognizing it...
31. 2012-07-14 08:15  
Gorgeous Couple. Wish you guys all the best !!!!!!
32. 2012-07-14 08:43  
Nice video! They certainly have done the GLBTs in Sg proud!
33. 2012-07-14 09:28  
Congrats Guys,

My brother and his BF have been together for over 20yrs, I have just reached the 5 years with my BF and we went to Melbourne Town Hall and registered our relationship, just last year.

Who said "Gay Relationships never last", dumb ass straights.

I think being LGBTI & Ethnic Background it makes an individual think more deeply before committing to a life long journey together :)

All the best guys, to a life long journey together :)

Andy & Jeff
34. 2012-07-14 10:09  
Congradulations :D!! So cute :) And go SG
35. 2012-07-14 10:29  
i never thought relationship between GAM would work out in a place where there's plenty of irresistible white guys flirting around...
36. 2012-07-14 10:33  
sure they will get divorced 5 years from now...LOL
37. 2012-07-14 11:11  
What a lovely couple. They look so cute together. Best wishes from me and i want that too - a wedding!! :)
38. 2012-07-14 11:21  
congratulations~nice wedding~
39. 2012-07-14 12:50  
Congrats, felicitations, Tim & Nic! All the best and good for you guys for making a statement despite Australia's sad lack of recognition of your commitment!:)
40. 2012-07-14 12:52  
Cute couple and such a nice ceremony! I am so very jealous.
41. 2012-07-14 13:11  
What an absolutely wonderful story
42. 2012-07-14 13:19  
Sydney 1981, It's not apathey that has held Asia people in Asian countries from embrassing gay relationships. I live in China and here there is a strong family committment and especially with the one child policy, many gay men feel forced to hide their sexuality and get married even though there is a huge gay population. As I see it China is about 20 years behind Australia and lets face it, Australia is not exactly leading the world in society acceptance of all things gay.
But, congradulations to the Happy Couple. If I could only convince some here that a Civil Union would work and to stand up to their families, maybe China will catch up in the future.
43. 2012-07-14 13:37  
just beautiful to watch their video , it made me very emotional , i wish them all the happiness in the world
44. 2012-07-14 13:50  
Congrats Studs~~~
Soong & Ray^^
45. 2012-07-14 14:47  
Very encouraging, but nope, I wouldn't go that far. :D
46. 2012-07-14 16:25  
47. 2012-07-14 16:44  
Congratulations! Beautiful wedding & great idea making it public and more visual. Thanks to guys like yourselves and your courage tolerance will grow in society. One step at a time : )

Ps your camera man or lady did a wicked job too ; )
48. 2012-07-14 17:07  
very nice couple Nic and Tim. congratulations and thanks for sharing your story with us all.
49. 2012-07-14 19:54  
wow! so deep breath taking scenario from you two guys..hmmmm..so nice..hehe..Cheers! Alex here
50. 2012-07-14 20:02  
Shame it had to be spoiled with religion...
51. 2012-07-14 21:59  
It's a lovely and beautiful story of long awaited union between two lovely men. It's worth persevering for such a lovely ending. Congratulations!.
52. 2012-07-14 22:24  
bravo........how i wish i can be like them.......
53. 2012-07-14 22:55  
love does conquer all..
54. 2012-07-14 22:56  
congrats \(^^)/
55. 2012-07-14 23:10  
so envy... and so happy for them, i wish one day i can find the one also
56. 2012-07-15 00:03  
so lovely couple. congrats!
marriage is a big thing, not everyone has courage to do that. wish u both the best ^_^
57. 2012-07-15 00:22  
best wishes...
58. 2012-07-15 00:48  
Congratulations Tim and Nic - wonderful video - wonderful wedding - wish you both love and happiness all your lives together.
59. 2012-07-15 00:56  
Congrats! Very brave! Best wishes to your many years of life together ahead.... This is beautiful!
60. 2012-07-15 01:45  
Congratulations and best wishes to you both! :)
61. 2012-07-15 01:47  
Nice and lucky couple! Congrats !

Totally agree that gay Asians should be more proactively out to make ourself more visible
回應#62於於2012-07-17 13:11被作者刪除。
63. 2012-07-15 04:22  
fantastic video... wept with emotion, congratulations.
64. 2012-07-15 06:03  
I got really teary for this. I watched many gay wedding video but this one touched me the most. I feel like I can imagine myself in scenarios like this. And their love means there're still hope for "sticky rice queens" like me.
65. 2012-07-15 07:21  
Beautiful video.... Lovely, sweet and touching... Congrats Nic and Tim... Wish u two happy marriage forever and adopt/have a cute baby soon. :)
66. 2012-07-15 09:33  
67. 2012-07-15 10:40  
68. 2012-07-15 10:48  
69. 2012-07-15 12:51  
Congratrulations to you Both!

I wish you every happiness for both your futures!!!!
70. 2012-07-15 15:00  
Congratulations! You are an adorable couple!
71. 2012-07-15 16:21  
Congratulations to them :)
72. 2012-07-15 17:02  
Tears never lie. As it moved me to a tear or two. With tears gain strenght. Go Guys From an Oz and JP interdependants. TBA
73. 2012-07-15 17:05  
sending love for them
74. 2012-07-15 18:52  
Congrats Nic and Tim! Can't wait to have a wedding one day full of love and happiness like yours! Best wishes!
75. 2012-07-15 19:15  
76. 2012-07-15 19:23  
This is true love and I congratulate both Nic and Tim for being brave enough to follow their dreams. More guys in todays world should follow this example of companionship and not be tainted by the out-of-touch governments who fail to realise that same sex couples can love and respect each other in the same manner as hetrosexual couples. My Best Wishes to you Both
77. 2012-07-15 20:05  
real touching ! Lovable couple!
78. 2012-07-15 20:42  
Wonderful stuff! Thanks for sharing your special day with everyone guys.
Thoughts and best wishes to you both.
79. 2012-07-15 20:50  
Bravery is always very sexy, without the couple already very hot and sexy. Kudos Nic and Tim! Just curious, who's top and who's bottom! Cheers!
80. 2012-07-15 21:58  
81. 2012-07-15 23:31  
The wedding looked absolutely beautiful. For me, it's especially inspiring to see two asian men tying the knot, as it sets an example that being gay and asian doesn't mean you have to look outside of your culture to find a life that is fulfilling and whole.
82. 2012-07-15 23:33  
Congratulations to beautiful life...
83. 2012-07-16 05:56  
Congratulations to you both, hope your story will inspire many more Asian guys to follow their hearts and find true love in this world.

Wishing you both all the love.
84. 2012-07-16 08:04  
Congrats guys and good to see the Asian community of friends supporting you I wish more Asian guys would be so gutsy. It looked a great day was had by all in attendance.
85. 2012-07-16 08:34  
it's beautiful! congratulation!
86. 2012-07-16 08:40  
A beautiful record of an inspiring day. You are blessed to have each other, and such lovely friends. Be happy for ever, boys!
87. 2012-07-16 10:19  
Congrates! I do believe there are huge courage to be taken and I do felt the happiness in both of you. My blessing for 2 love birds who has been together for 10 year and many more years to go..
88. 2012-07-16 10:35  
i cant stop envying them...:P
回應#89於於2012-07-16 12:21被作者刪除。
90. 2012-07-16 12:24  
Best Wishes to both of u!
Pastor Gary Chan very cute too... Cheers!
91. 2012-07-16 13:18  
lovely...I wish happiness, peace and love for all of "us"...
92. 2012-07-16 13:29  
Sooo sweet kisses
93. 2012-07-16 15:10  
Great to see another couple together for a long time. Congrats on your wedding, and hopefully one day soon Australia will follow suit as in Canada and legalize gay marriage!
94. 2012-07-16 17:55  
Fantastic Nic and Tim - and congratulations.

I hope your sharing will give gay couples of all ethnicities hope, and especially those from countries where discrimination against gay people is still practiced. I have two friends here in New Zealand who have had a civil union - they have been together 8 years. One is Malaysian and Islamic, the other Malaysian-Chinese and Buddhist. For obvious reasons they have chosen not to be a couple in Malaysia and I am happy they found love and happiness together in NZ - and NZ residency too. There is a gay marrriage bill coming before Parliament in NZ, and there is a lot of support for it.

I hope we hear more stories like Nic's and Tim's - inspirational.
95. 2012-07-16 18:34  
96. 2012-07-16 19:01  
Congratulation guys... and THANK YOU!
97. 2012-07-16 23:55  
congrs... to you... wish you both happiness always togethers... you both go through alot hard times togethers.... :)
回應#98於於2012-07-16 23:56被作者刪除。
回應#99於於2012-07-16 23:55被作者刪除。
100. 2012-07-17 09:18  
Beautiful, moving and inspiring... Congratulations!
回應#101於於2012-07-17 09:20被作者刪除。
102. 2012-07-19 22:23  
I was invited to the wedding but i couldn't go coze i was busy
103. 2012-07-20 00:06  

All the best. Such a beautiful wedding.

104. 2012-07-20 00:06  

All the best. Such a beautiful wedding.

105. 2012-07-20 00:45  
Congrat...but i can't see why there is no conflict between being gay and also a Christian...
106. 2012-07-20 06:15  
just great to see the story~~
107. 2012-07-20 06:16  
just great to see the story~~
108. 2012-07-20 06:59  
CONGRATULATIONS TIM AND NIC. You'll make beautiful smart babies together…to do that, maybe you'll need a similar lesbian couple who has tied the knot just like you…. we're doing that here in Canada :-)
109. 2012-07-20 07:43  
all the very best!
110. 2012-07-20 14:36  
This is from an older married man with children who has had to recognize that he does not have two lifetimes......You have both so beautifully demonstrated how dignified gay marriage can be.
I live in Dublin.
I have not held my male Chinese lover who now lives in Melbourne for 4 years.....another life maybe.....
Value your time together
111. 2012-07-20 14:36  
This is from an older married man with children who has had to recognize that he does not have two lifetimes......You have both so beautifully demonstrated how dignified gay marriage can be.
I live in Dublin.
I have not held my male Chinese lover who now lives in Melbourne for 4 years.....another life maybe.....
Value your time together
112. 2012-07-20 20:00  
Many congratulations to the happy couple. xxx
113. 2012-07-21 13:50  
Congrats from KL. I may not be lucky as you guys, but I am so touched & happy on seeing you two good-looking guys taking a bold step in getting married together openly and you guys make good loving Christians! Keep up the love! Stay in touch with Fridae!
114. 2012-07-22 13:02  
Greetings from the Land of a Thousand Islands. :)

Congratulations to you Nic and Tim, may your Love to each other, never ends.

115. 2012-07-22 16:49  
well its a start what are all the other asian gay couples waiting for?
116. 2012-07-22 23:50  
Congratulations!! Simply beautiful. From Singapore.
117. 2012-07-24 11:33  
It's all very nice; I'm glad the world over here is finally catching up.
I attended my first Asian man-man wedding in 1991 in Los Angeles, with a massive 100 tables dinner at a Chinese restuarant in L.A. Chinatown...

Please refer to www.gapsn.org
118. 2012-07-24 12:08  
can anyone send their wedding video to me?
i cant see it
thax to the great fire wall of China
119. 2012-08-10 11:13  
If both of you are coming to KL, do msg me as I'm eager to shake your hands & say 'congratulations, I still feel cool about both of you!':)
120. 2012-12-29 03:05  
that's great...
121. 2012-12-30 05:03  
In July, 2005, Canada became the fourth country in the world, the first country in the Americas, and the first country outside of Europe to legalize same-sex marriage. The 2011 census indicates that fully one third of 65,000 same-sex couples are married (as opposed to common-law). This dramatic social change was brought about, in part, by couples similar to Nic and Tim, who were not afraid to stand up for same-sex rights before it was fashionable. Nic and Tim are to be congratulated for being pioneers, especially in such a conservative society as is Singapore.
Vancouver, Canada




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