Chatting excitedly as they try on their Chinese imperial-themed wedding outfits, Ren Weilian and Zhu Tiantian are as nervous as any couple as they prepare to exchange vows in their lesbian marriage.  China does not recognize same-sex unions but that’s not stopping couples like Ren and Zhu from tying the knot in informal ceremonies as the country’s sexual minorities quietly assert their rights.

That push was given a boost when the top court of neighboring Taiwan last month ruled in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage, triggering a surge in online chatter among Chinese gays who hope they, too, can someday legally wed. “I feel it’s quite hard to host a same-sex wedding here because there will be many problems. But I just want us to be able to have our own wedding,” said Ren, 26, donning a yellow dress embroidered with phoenix designs. READ MORE