Submitted by Arthur Dong & Young Gee.
Edited by Loren Javier.
Photo by Brian To.
One could say Arthur Dong and Young Gee have been making music since the day they first met. They met on February 11, 1978, in Berkeley at a Chinese music concert with the Flowing Stream Ensemble. Both passionate about their culture, they were both taking Chinese music lessons separately with ensemble co-director, Shirley Wong, who thought they’d be a good match. She schemed to get the two together and, pretty soon, they fell in love.
At first, it seemed they personified the cliché of “love at first sight.” But it became apparent that their immediate attraction was also based on deeply shared cultural traditions and history. Both of their parents were immigrants from the Toishan region of China and passed on the same family values and love of food to their children. For the first time in their dating lives were they able to bring home boyfriends who could speak Chinese to each other’s parents — that was the clincher!
Arthur and Young moved to Los Angeles in 1984: Young attended graduate studies at UCLA and Arthur studied at the American Film Institute. They bought their first home in the Glassell Park-Mt. Washington area and their family quickly grew with the addition of pets Herbie, Zippers (Dip-Dip), and Velcro (Bell-Bell).
In 1998, Young’s and Arthur’s plan for a larger family required a bigger house within a good school district. And, so, they settled into our new home in Silverlake.
Seven years later, their dreams for a child came true when their son Reed became a part of the family in 2005.
“In May, when marriage between same-sex couples became legal in California, we decided to bite the bullet and tie the knot. Getting married this summer was a major milestone in our lives,” said Arthur. “After being together for 30 years, we had never had a commitment ceremony or even thrown ourselves anniversary parties. We have always tended to be a bit reserved and private about our personal lives. But when the California Supreme Court ruled that we finally had the right to the same legal recognition and respect as any other loving couple, we knew it was time.”
So, in August, Arthur and Young married at the venerable Golden Dragon restaurant in L.A. Chinatown. Of course, they could have had their wedding in some upscale Westside restaurant or hotel, but they wanted their wedding to reflect who they are and to be a celebration of their cultural heritage. “We are both part of the first generation in our families to be born and raised in the U.S. Having a banquet in Chinatown with traditional entertainment is much more in line with our families’ practices,” said Young.
The wedding celebration included a performance of Cantonese Opera and a traditional lion dance. Board of Equalization President Judy Chu performed the ceremony and the dinner program was emceed by actress Amy Hill. They also wanted to make our ceremony count as part of the fight for full equality, so Young and Arthur invited the Chinese media to cover the event and asked their guests in lieu of gifts to consider making a contribution to support the freedom to marry.
“The most touching moment, though, of the ceremony was when our precious son Reed, who served as ring bearer, presented us with our rings. He burst into tears on stage and we immediately picked him up and comforted him, asking what the problem was. Reed explained that he wanted to place the rings on his daddies’ fingers. After doing so, he kissed each of his daddies on the cheek and smiled for the photographers. The roomful of family and friends rose to their feet and cheered,” recalled Young.
“Our one regret is that only one of our parents is still living and her poor health prevented her from making to trip to Los Angeles to witness our wedding,” said Arthur. “They would have all loved being there. We know they were with us in spirit. Now, in between working and raising our son, we have to work overtime to ensure the civil rights of all couples and families. Thanks to all of you who share the dream of equality.”