(Illustration: Cat Jensen)
Yesterday morning I went to a queer, online, ingame, EverQuest wedding. I love my life.
Honestly, half the fun of this wedding was telling people about it.
‘Went to’ might be a bit of a stretch. The brides were back in New Zealand, half the wedding party was in the US, and I was in my apartment in Taipei. Due to the time difference I arrived at the wedding at around ten past five in the morning, and then promptly left my character to stand around so that I could make coffee and stop hating everybody.
We might need a bit of backstory here. Let’s go back to my University days in Dunedin, New Zealand, to a zoology field trip where I met one of the brides. I’m going to call her by her ingame name, Bonzaiiii. Bonzaiiii and I bonded over the field trip, a tip-toeing dinosaur (if you expected this backstory to be less weird than the introduction, I’m sorry, but that was never going to happen), and, later, over both of us being miserable and in the closet. She listened to me cry about my life and I found her Christian gay people to talk to in the hopes that she would stop paying a priest to try to ‘fix’ her.
I rather ironically pretended to said gay Christians that I was just a straight ally helping out because I cannot over-emphasise how far I was in the closet at that point.
We are now both more or less out of the closet, and a lot happier than we were back then. However, none of her family knows that she is engaged, and her grandparents still don’t know that she is gay, which means that an IRL wedding, right now, isn’t going to happen. It’s planned, and I am super excited about being in a steampunk-themed wedding (Google it) but it’s far, far in the future. Hence, online wedding.
The wedding venue. You can see me in the foreground. I was told to choose a good aligned character, and to make it a short fae if I wanted to be a bridesmaid/flower girl.
The internet has been a boon for a lot of people in a lot of ways but I think it has been especially important for us queers. It is a safe haven where we can be anonymous, where we don’t have to be alone, where we don’t have to be afraid. When I was on my overseas exchange in Canada, many years ago, I spent a ridiculous amount of time on a queer message board because I didn’t even have Bonzaiiii with me then and it helped me to feel less alone. The internet also helps us to have queer weddings without having to worry about giving elderly relatives a heart attack, so that’s nice too.
The other reason the brides chose EverQuest as their venue is simply that they are obsessed with the game. As someone who rarely games and has only heard of EverQuest through friends’ Facebook posts, it was a bit of a learning curve for me. I spent part of my Saturday night at a café near Da'an station, ignoring the people I was with so that I could be led by my friend’s avatar through a series of portals to the venue. Once there I was given formal wear for my character that matched everyone else’s. I then learned how to walk, run, sit, cheer, dance, and send up rainbow fireworks. I also practiced walking down the aisle and sitting on the rainbow behind the brides.
(The venue was called Fluffy’s Floating Floratorium. I could explain the name but it would involve going down a completely different nerdy rabbit hole and I really don’t think it’s worth it.)
And now we are back to the wedding itself. The ceremony was adorable, despite the numerous gaming references I only kind of understood. After the ceremony we went to the reception area where there was cake, stories, and virtual gifts, and someone made all our characters drunk so that the screen went wibbly for about ten minutes.
You can kind of see the tower of cake in the background. I think someone sobered us up with ‘coffee’ in the end.
What I’ve been told about Taiwan is that most people are super accepting of queers – as long as it is not their children. Because of this, young queer people in Taiwan, just like young people all over the world, turn to the internet. They might not go so far as to have online weddings, but they find forums. They find message boards and websites, tumblrs and movies and queer comics. They find groups in real life that they would not have found without the internet. Some people argue that the internet should not be anonymous, that only people who have something to hide would be worried about it becoming more transparent. Those people don’t seem to realise that hiding is not the same as guilty, and that hiding can sometimes be very similar to freedom. It is fashionable, these days, to bemoan the internet for not being ‘real’ enough, or for taking over our lives. We forget how many lives the internet has saved. [check out our resources section to see these forums, e.g. 2Girls, Top1069, etc.]
To Bonzaiiii and Nailoi, thank you for allowing me at your wedding. I hate writing mushy stuff but I am so happy that you two found each other, you are fantastic together and your wedding was adorable. I can’t wait for the next one.
And not just because I get an excuse to dress up in a steampunk outfit, I swear.
The other bonus from this wedding is that it is ridiculously hot in Taiwan at the moment, and I was alone in my apartment, which means that I can now say that I have been to a wedding naked. Online weddings guys. Get on board.
[You can check out the video of the wedding here.]
(Editing: LeeWang, Ching)