Why is this a big deal? Because in India, it is still illegal to be gay. Being gay is also a touchy subject for many traditional Indian families.
Rishi Agarwal, who had a Hindu upbringing, always imagined a traditional Hindu wedding, but knew as a gay man that coming out was going to be difficult. Rishi’s parents Vijay, 68, and Sushma, 61, who emigrated to Toronto from India over 30 years ago, were devastated when their son came out in 2004, but after doing research, they came around. They now attend meetings for the Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays chapter in Toronto.
“This is strictly our baggage, what we bring from India,” Sushma told The Toronto Star.
Rishi met his now husband Daniel Langdon in 2011, and his parents decided to throw him a huge, colorful Hindu wedding.
There were some roadblocks initially, like the fact that the family couldn’t find a Hindu priest who would perform a ceremony for gay men. One finally agreed, and the two were married at a golf course in Oakland, in a wedding that was traditional Bollywood. The couple circled a sacred fire four times, exchanged flower garlands, and got matching henna tattoos of each other’s initials.
“I never thought in my wildest dreams that I could have the wedding that I wanted with the person I loved and with all my family and my friends,” Rishi said.
The two are sharing their story to help inspire acceptance and understanding of LGBT issues among the Indian community.
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