This article has been sponsored by Uber.
“I am what I am. So take me as I am. No one can escape from their individuality,” said former CJI Dipak Misra as part of the landmark Supreme Court judgement which struck down Section 377 as illegal and arbitrary.
The judgement was pronounced on September 6, 2018, and this Valentine’s Day will be the first one that couples from the LGBTQI+ community in India will celebrate without the fear of prosecution and legal discrimination.
Finally, love is moving forward, irrespective of gender. On this momentous occasion of our first inclusive Valentine’s Day after the Section 377 judgement, Uber is launching a movement called #LoveMovesForward, by giving love an inclusive symbol—the pride heart emoji.
With this in place, every time you use the hashtag #LoveMovesForward on Twitter, a heart emoji in Pride Colours (the Pride Heart) will appear on your tweet. The Pride Heart embraces the many shades of love with its own and you can join the #LoveMovesForward movement by using the hashtag on Twitter to see the emoji appear with your tweet.
This has been launched along with the Change.Org petition so that users can sign it and help us get the Pride Heart emoji. Sign the petition to help us get the Pride Heart emoji.
With that spirit in mind and as part of this movement, let’s hear diverse love stories from the LGBTQIA community and celebrate them.
1. Shyam and his beloved
The love story of Shyam Konnur and his partner inspired many to come out and fight for their right to be a couple. In 2017, Agent Jacks, a popular pub in Pune, barred them from entering as a couple, thus starting the much-needed dialogue about love.
Speaking to The Better India, Shyam, the founder of MIST, a support group for the queer community, said, “The incident did incite people to think and talk about the homophobic attitude around, especially with respect to access to public spaces. Things are changing now.”
Hoping that this year would be better, Shyam’s partner, requesting anonymity, shared their love story with us. “We met in 2016, during the Bengaluru Pride walk. I was at the pre-Pride party. Shyam walked up to me and complimented me. It was rather flattering at that moment, and we decided to exchange numbers.”
What started with casual flirting eventually evolved into something profound after their first date. After all these years, both stand strong together and are living in Pune.
With Valentine’s Day approaching, Shyam adds, “Why should someone else tell us if we are a couple or not? All we hope for is a better V-Day this year, with a romantic candlelight dinner and some nice music!”
2. Anwesh and Pance
Anwesh Sahoo is an IITian from New Delhi, who won the ‘Mr Gay World India’ title in 2016. And, as fame followed, so did love. He considers himself the luckiest man in the world to have found the love of his life, Pance.
The couple met in 2017 when Anwesh was visiting Mumbai for Pride Month celebrations. In a fanboy moment, Pance recognised Anwesh and approached him, to let him know about how much he liked his work.
“Love is indeed a synonym for pain. I hated having to part ways to go back to work, and college, not knowing if we’d manage to meet again. Funnily enough, we didn’t have as many cultural differences as we thought we would. We’re all the same at heart. We have similar aspirations in life, the similar emotions we walk through,” Anwesh said in an interview.
3. Radhika Piramal and Amanda
The Managing Director of VIP Industries, Radhika Piramal has been vocal about her sexuality and busting stigmas around it.
An alumna of the Oxford University and the Harvard Business School, Piramal joined Bain & Company in New York, where she met the love of her life, Amanda and eventually married her in 2011.
Although not much is known about their love story, it has undoubtedly been a promising symbol of homosexual legal union, which could hopefully become an Indian reality soon.
4. Sunil and Navtej
Sunil Mehra, a prominent journalist, actor and exponent of Dastangoi (a 13th-century form of oral storytelling) met Navtej Johar, a classical dancer, 16 years ago. What began as a professional interview, eventually paved the way to a consolidated effort together, to make India a welcoming space for the queer community.
Over the years, their love for the cause and each other has been through many ups and downs. Six years ago, together, they began the wave of open love in India after Mehra named himself and Johar on the writ petition to the Supreme Court which demanded the abolishment of Section 377.
This couple’s efforts, along with the support of a hundred more individuals of the community, eventually pushed the legal system to step back and decriminalise their right to love.
5. Surya and Ishaan
In 2018, surrounded by their loved ones and well-wishers, Surya and Ishaan K Shaan became India’s first transgender couple to tie the knot. Their wedding was held in Thiruvananthapuram, and they were the first transgender couple to get married under the Special Marriages act in the state.
Born to a conservative family, Ishaan had battled several conflicts to identify as a trans man, while Surya, an actor and a transgender activist, came out of the closet only in the early 2000s after enduring several struggles through the process.
Although Surya and Ishaan had known each other for years, they never became friends, until in 2017, when they met at a programme in Kozhikode. This meeting led to many others, and somewhere along the way, they fell in love and Ishaan proposed to Surya.
All these stories redefine the true meaning of love—one which does not have a gender or any other distinctive aspect. It is a pure emotion that anyone, irrespective of their identity, truly deserves.
Love is for all, so maybe its emoji should be too – sign this petition and join the #LoveMovesForward movement.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)