Navigating their relationship in the early 2000s came as a massive challenge for Utkarsh Saxena and Ananya Kotia.

Today, they are fighting for the legalisation of gay marriage in India. They share their love story and the struggles that came along with it with The Better India.

The couple met at the debating society of Hansraj College in Delhi, where Ananya Kotia was Utkarsh’s junior.

“The debating society was a very important part of the college, and we spent a lot of time together discussing various topics. At the time, I was struggling to find my identity, but I knew early on that what we had was something special,” Kotia shares.

Soon the couple fell head over heels for each other. However, their relationship was nurtured in hiding as they feared backlash from society.

Both struggled with their identity and the stigma around it. “Before meeting each other, we had been dealing with our struggles all alone — be it our struggle with identity or any other. But when we met each other, it felt like we were finally at ease,” says Utkarsh.

After six years, the couple finally started to come out to some of their friends and family. They were lucky enough to receive a warm reception.

Utkarsh, who filed a petition in the Supreme Court for the legalisation of same-sex marriage, believes that this is the right time, as society has become more accepting towards queer people.

Utkarsh says, “We have been progressing as a generation and as a society. At least we are not throwing people into jails for being gay now, but we still have a lot of miles to cover.”