By Tatiana Tissot
Last weekend, the first gay wedding fair took place in Paris, only four days after same-sex marriage came to fruition in France. Called “The G-Day,” the event was held in the heart of the capital, between the Louvres and the Palais-Royal gardens.
“When we decided to plan the fair, in February, the bill was supposed to be voted in June,” organizer Claire Jollain from Events&Home agency told 429Magazine. “It was aimed as a politically committed act.”
On April 27, around 30 exhibitors – photographers, card makers, jewelers, and caterers – presented their services in a 700-meter-square venue.
“The idea was to gather gay-friendly service providers, who are comfortable and happy to work with same-sex couples,” said Jollain.
The organizer chose to dedicate this first edition to gay men. A choice that has been questioned: “The event is a pioneer, that is a good thing,” said Olivier Legrand, a wedding planner who held a stall at the fair.
“But I think it’s absurd to separate gay wedding and lesbian wedding. This kind of event should be more open.”
Jollain made excuses for that: “The place being small, we chose ‘men wedding’ as a theme. We also thought that lesbian couples managed to find things they liked in traditional wedding fairs. Visitors and associations have told us we were wrong!” She insisted that she had no intention of leaving people aside.
Among the 400 visitors who attended the fair, there were gay couples, but also lesbians and heterosexuals who wanted to show their support for same-sex weddings.
Some lovers had already set a date to celebrate their marriage, others were just thinking about it.
“In the morning, journalists nearly outnumbered visitors,” said Legrand. “With the current situation, gay couples didn’t want to show off.”
Jollain said that friends refused to visit the G-Day, for “fear of being beaten up by some homophobic extremists.”
Police displayed serious security measures around the venue.
“They firmly believed anti-gay wedding activists would show up, but luckily nothing happened,” added Jollain.
“The security seemed disproportionate for this small event, but the situation in France is incredible, as far as same-sex wedding is concerned.” People appeared to be very sensitive, after the violent street demonstrations and the media uproar.
Some firms Jollain invited also refused to openly support same-sex weddings. “Agencies were interested in celebrating homosexual weddings, but turned down the opportunity to [be]exposed in the fair, because they were afraid of losing other customers. They told us they’d be glad to come for the next edition, but did not want to appear as activists,” Jollain said.
In France, the first gay weddings should take place during the month of June. However, to fight prejudices, the country still has a long way to go according to Legrand.
He offers workshops for French professionals who want to learn how to communicate with LGBT couples. He hopes the image of homosexuals in France would evolve.
“It makes me sick! French people think that all gay men are queens walking around wearing feather boas. In the States, I observed a real respect for homosexuals, which we lack here.”
His agency, Boom.co, is organizing gay weddings in France, but also across the world. They are contracted by Americans who want to celebrate their marriage in Paris.
As for the future, Boom.co is thinking of organizing a new gay wedding fair in the fall.
However, both hope that soon enough, classic wedding fairs will naturally include services dedicated to gay couples.