Paris tradeshow grooms the market for male marriage
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Held four days after the adoption of the draft law on marriage between same-sex persons, the first gay men’s wedding tradeshow in Paris on Saturday was as much about equal opportunity as business opportunities.
It didn’t take long for some to realise the dollar value of gay marriage. Just four days after French Parliament adopted the draft law on gay marriage, France’s first trade show for male homosexual couples took place in Paris on April 27.
Fuchsia lighting, black tablecloth, and statuettes representing two men getting married were among the displays spread over the 700 m2 showroom, where thirty companies hawked their services as wedding planners, photographers, suit-makers, or whatever else a groom-to-be could need.
At first glance there was nothing very innovative compared to your average heterosexual affair. However, as event organiser Claire Jollain explained, "The main difference is that here, exhibitors display equality."
No typical homosexual model
According to Marie Bouvet, the blogger behind "Oh my day" which provides tips and advice for gays on getting hitched, the key to homosexual marriage lies in creativity. "Gay marriage is necessarily a secular union, whereas there is a more traditional side to straight marriage. As such, there is greater room to let our creativity off the leash.
By way of example, she imagines a ceremony that starts with a parachute jump, and is followed by the celebration of the union by the mayor at the landing, and then a huge party in a field. “Anything is possible. Mind you, the idea is not necessarily to do something crazy; conventional options are just as acceptable. There are no rules," she says.
Severin and Steve are far from organised for their big day. They are here primarily out of curiosity. "I asked Severin in October, before the adoption of the law,” said Steve. "Now we can begin to think seriously about the preparations." More than anything, they said, what brought them here was "the atmosphere."
All exhibitors here are "gay-friendly", which is not necessarily the case everywhere. Simply put, there is no risk of running into someone who does not want to work for you because of your sexual orientation. It is this niche that the businesses present are making the most of.
"Some lawyers have told us that they were not interested in working on gay marriage contracts out of a question of values," laments Jean-François, a wedding planner at PrimeDay company.
Bernard, a hetero photographer with a sense of solidarity for homosexuals who works for the site 'Jevousprendshomos.com', also says: "Gays come to me more often because my eyes are more open."
"We are not working girls"
The 50-something Didier meanwhile claims to be here more as an activist than future groom, even if he and his partner are planning to make their union official. "For 19 years I have been with my boyfriend. We want to get married because we have the right, but at our age we're more into realism in romance; we are not working girls.
“If I'm here today, more than anything it is because as an activist; I am concerned," he says, pointing to the presence of riot police deployed outside the building after numerous cases of assaults against homosexuals during the parliamentary debate over the law. "Are we in Paris or Moscow? Some of my friends didn’t dare come for fear of getting bashed."
At his side is his best friend Mickaël, single, who likes what he sees at the event. "I've always been put off by the cutesy-wutesy side of weddings, but I notice that this is changing, which is good. We are leaving the clichés behind. The classic trio of flowers, cake and dress is no longer so relevant," he said.
In short, there is a desire to break away from traditional female model attributed to marriage. In any case, women are entirely sidelined during this event , though the event organiser denies there was any intentional discrimination.
"We originally thought that men had a greater need for a dedicated showroom for their needs," explains Claire Jollain. “As it is, we have received many requests from lesbians too, which we have not been able to fulfill for lack of space. If there is a next edition of the show, they will be part of it," she promises.