10 March 2014, Leonid and Yury from Moscow, Russia, said “I do” to each other at Copenhagen City Hall in the Danish capital. They chose to spend this unique moment in their lives with a few friends from Russia and UK.
Leonid works as business development manager in a duty free company in Moscow. It was in the Russian capital that he met Yury, who is a freelance graphic designer. They started seeing each other after they found each other via an iPhone dating app. This was 1.5 years ago, and they have moved in together since.
For Leonid, who had not had any serious relationships before, it was love at first sight, and he decided to try out the relationship thing with Yury. Even though it was not classic love from Yury’s side from the beginning, he was the one asking the important question on a holiday in Egypt.
“That was a Rubicon for him,” compares Leonid the proposal with the metaphor of a point of no return.
Denmark is far from foreign to the Russians: “Everybody in Russia knows H.C.Andersen. The Snow Queen is one of the most popular fairy tales in my country and my favorite. The Mermaid is iconic, too.”
The Danish judicial system has been a crucial part of Leonid and Yury’s decision to get married in Copenhagen, where your race, sex or sexual orientation is not of importance.
“We have chosen Copenhagen because it is the easiest way for two non EU-citizens to get married. Denmark and its capital city Copenhagen are real pioneers for being so tolerant and loyal to gay people. You should keep this amazing spirit of freedom and equality,” says Leonid appreciatively.
A demonstration of this spirit is the help, that they got from two Russian guys, who run the website Svadba. They live in Denmark and help others like them to come and get married. All told, it took only a month to gather and prepare all necessary documents, and on 6 March, Leonid and Yury boarded the plane that would take them to the kingdom, where their own fairy tale would begin.
The Little Mermaid and LEGO part of the celebrations
“Our wedding may be simple, but for us it is true,” says Leonid. The wedding celebrations are not flamboyant as the newlywed couple cannot catch up on the expensive lifestyle in Copenhagen. Nonetheless, corks are popping and champagne flowing by the time the group starts its walk to The Little Mermaid. The iconic statue shall be one of the first congratulators and thus become part of Leonid and Yury’s fairytale.
On their way, they meet the spirit of freedom and equality as strangers come up to wish them well. Both tourists and Danes celebrate the happy couple by cheering, clapping and throwing confetti for the wedding pictures in front of the The Little Mermaid.
The wedding cake is a Danish strawberry pie featuring two grooms, which are a wedding gift from the famous Danish toy company LEGO. Even the Danish weather shows itself from its best side as the sun is smiling with them all day.
Even though they do not know yet, which political situation they will return to in their home country Russia, Leonid and Yury try not to worry too much during their stay in Copenhagen: “On our wedding day, we do not think about politics,” smiles Leonid while sipping champagne in front of The Little Mermaid.
Will they visit Copenhagen again?
Their departure is imminent, but Leonid and Yury are certain about one thing: They will definitely consider coming back to Copenhagen. As the Tivoli Gardens are closed in March, their next stay will take place in the summer and include a visit to one of the world’s oldest amusement parks.
However, they will first dive into the gay nightlife of Copenhagen before starting their honeymoon to Norway and Rome. We congratulate them - from Denmark to Russia with love.
The National Association for Gays and Lesbians (LGBT Denmark) was founded by Axel Axgil in 1948 as the first of its kind in the world.
In 1989 Denmark was the first country in the world to recognise registered partnerships for same-sex couples.
In 2009 it became possible for registered gay couples to adopt children.
In 2012 it became possible for same-sex couples to be married in church or at city hall.
Copenhagen is home to one of Europe’s oldest gay bars, Centralhjørnet from 1917, which openly became a gay bar in 1950’s.
In 2009 Copenhagen hosted World Outgames.
Danes Eigil and Axel Axgil were the first couple in the world to enter into a registered same-sex partnership in 1989 after 40 years of being engaged.
Denmark’s Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt and Lord Mayor of Copenhagen Frank Jensen participated in Copenhagen Pride parade in 2012, walking the streets with a rainbow flag in their hands.