NI diplomat homosexual ceremony seen by 20 million people after saying “No one will ever know”.
A TRAILBLAZING diplomat from Northern Ireland recounted how his ‘low-key’ gay marriage ended up being seen by 20 MILLION people.
Great pilot Brian Davidson said his father in Co Down asked ‘What are the neighbors going to think? When he revealed he was getting married to US-born Scott Chang.
The official told his father that the function in China was a small event and “no one will ever know”.
But the 2014 wedding, at the UK ambassador’s residence in Beijing, was the first same-sex union to take place in the country.
And when an image was uploaded, it caught the imagination of millions of people across Asia.
Mandarin speaker Brian, from Holywood, said: “I had to make a frantic phone call to my parents to warn them, ‘You’re probably going to read something in the papers. I’m sorry about that’.
But her parents said they were already having “a wonderful day” with neighbors who came to congratulate them.
The 56-year-old, who has just been appointed the UK’s new consul general in Hong Kong and Macau, said he was delighted with the change in law in Northern Ireland allowing same-sex couples to marry.
He admitted it had been difficult growing up in “a very conservative part of the UK”.
Brian, the current British Ambassador to Thailand, told us: “It was difficult for me to come to terms with my sexuality. It was hidden.
“I would say a lot of my friends, and probably my parents, had some ideas, but no questions were asked. Living and working abroad has made it very easy to keep this a secret.
“I only officially told my parents after I met Scott, when it was clear we wanted to get married.”
PROHIBITED IN CHINA
Same-sex marriage is banned in China, but the couple took advantage of a law change in Britain to get married on British diplomatic territory.
Today, the couple are the proud dads of three children from a surrogate mother: Eliot, five, Esme, three, and Erik, two.
All will move to Hong Kong to replace British Consul General Andrew Heyn.
It is the last stage of an extraordinary career which, between 2011 and 2015, also saw him occupy the post of Consul General in Shanghai.
And, in 1989, he was based in Beijing during the historical events in Tiananmen Square.
“A STRONG OBLIGATION ON THE UNITED KINGDOM”
Brian said: “Obviously this work is extremely important and very stimulating, but I relish the opportunity to help the UK be a force for good in the world.
“It is undeniable that there are complexities in the UK-China relationship and this work will undoubtedly bring enormous challenges as we work towards a mutually beneficial relationship.
“I started my overseas career in Beijing at the end of the 80’s, I had two other positions and I speak Mandarin, so going back to China and Hong Kong is very much like a role I have. have worked for much of my life. “
He added: “The UK has a strong obligation to defend the rights of the people of Hong Kong. We will always call behaviors where we do not agree.
“China must act in accordance with its legal obligations under the Joint Declaration and respect fundamental rights and freedoms in Hong Kong.
“I love China and I have a lot of Chinese friends. I’m basically someone who believes a relationship can work.
“MOVEMENT IS THE PERFECT CHOICE”
Brian said he was looking forward to doing Hong Kong with his family.
He said: “This is the first time we have moved with the children because they were all born in Thailand.
“Our children are at least half ethnically Chinese, so this move is the perfect choice for us as they have the opportunity to learn Chinese and get a feel for this part of their culture.
“It is always a challenge to adapt family life to my representative duties. I’m pretty strict that weekends are for family – it has to be the King, the Prime Minister, or a visiting Secretary of State to break this.
“Kids have a way of putting everything into perspective. You are the Ambassador until you walk through that door, then you are “Baba” again. They don’t really care what kind of day you’ve had. They just want you to read their story or play a game.
“Scott took surrogacy leave for our first two and I got three months off for Erik. I think I was the first man to take surrogacy leave at the Foreign Office, and certainly the first Ambassador.
“WHAT DO THE NEIGHBORS THINK? “
Brian, who is passionate about improving LGBT rights around the world, expressed his pride that Northern Ireland finally said ‘yes’ to same-sex marriage last year.
He said that for the first six years of his career at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Department, being gay was an “offense” that could be deferred until 1991.
After years of feeling unable to talk to his parents about his sexuality, he takes pride in how the UK is now a global leader in diversity and equality.
Brian admits he was worried when his “low-key” wedding in Beijing went viral and quickly registered 20 million views on the social media platform Weibo.
He said: “When we got married, to be completely honest my dad, who absolutely adored Scott, said ‘Why do you have to get married, son?’ He said, ‘We love you and we love you. are happy for you, but what will the neighbors think? ‘.
‘THE MOST WONDERFUL DAY’
“I reassured him by saying ‘Well, don’t worry, it’s going to be very quiet, there are only 60 guests coming to China, no one will ever know, and you can go on as if nothing was’.
“Of course, I never imagined that 20 million people in China would look at my wedding photo and have it picked up by the press.
“But the day the news came out, I called my mom who said, ‘We had the best day, darling. Every five minutes someone walks by with a bouquet of flowers or a bottle of something to congratulate us ”.
He added: “As we mark the centenary of Northern Ireland, I was delighted that the country finally approved same-sex marriage last year. Our ongoing story speaks of the future of Northern Ireland for the next 100 years and this decision gives hope that we can make it the nation we want it to be.
It has been two years since anti-government protests erupted in Hong Kong, but Brian hopes his education in Northern Ireland will help him offer a new perspective to help solve problems.
Brian said: “I am very proud to be from Northern Ireland. In every article I have read, I have been explaining the intricacies of the UK and the power-sharing arrangement over and over again.
“My upbringing has given me a more personal perspective which has helped me engage with the Thais on the ongoing conflict they have at the southern borders – and I’m sure it will continue to be. useful in the future. “
For more information on Northern Ireland’s Centenary, visit ourstoryinthemaking.com/.