On July 5, 2018, precisely two months before the Supreme Court struck down Section 377 of Indian Penal Code, two youngsters from Kerala exchanged rings at Guruvayur Sri Krishna Temple with only God left as a witness. There were no friends or relatives around.
A few days ago, Nikesh Usha Pushkaran and Sonu MS announced their wedding on Facebook, almost a year later they got married. They are the first —perhaps the only— openly married gay couple in Kerala. Both of them have known each other for more than two years and are happily married now.
The duo kept the news of them taking the plunge to themselves until they mustered the courage to go open about it and finally announced it on Facebook. “It was a unanimous decision taken by me and Sonu,” Nikesh says. “We thought it will be an inspiration for the many people who are still scared to come out and tell the world about their identity.”
Life wasn’t any easier for 35-year-old Nikesh, a native of Guruvayoor in Thrissur district. He was in a relationship for over 14 years. “We had to part ways at a stage where we decided to go public about our identity. Unfortunately, he couldn’t come out in fearing the reaction from the community,” Nikesh says.
What followed was a terrible time for Nikesh. He was in the grip of depression for almost two years. Nikesh, who runs a business in Kochi, says he used to pack bags and travel to Bangalore and Thiruvananthapuram frequently thinking he will find the right person somewhere in his journeys.
Meanwhile, Sonu, five years younger than Nikesh, has a different story to share. The Koothattukulam resident could tell his parents about his sexual orientation only at the age of 29 when they started looking for a bride for him. Sonu says his parents were quite shocked after they came to know about his. Finally, they accepted his identity after a doctor convinced them. Sonu works at an IT firm in Kochi.
Nikesh had told his family about his sexual orientation long time back, so there’s wasn’t much of a fuss about it.
Nikesh says, unlike straight people, they don’t have the luxury of surfing through matrimony websites to find matches. “I came to know about the gay dating application after my association with queer groups Queerala and Queerythm, two prominent LGBQI support groups in the state.
“Soon after I made a profile at the dating app I got a message from Sonu. Sonu was exactly the type of partner I was looking for. We started chatting. Two days after we met, we went on a date at a restaurant in Kochi. That’s how it started,” the young businessman says.
“Once I revealed my identity, my mom was a bit apprehensive about how society will react to it. She even asked whether I need to shifted to United States or Europe where people will accept me the way I am and I can get married to the person I wanted to,” Nikesh says.
Pious Hindus prefer to get hitched in the presence of Guruvayoorappan (God) in the temple of Guruvayoor. So were Sonu and Nikesh. “We visited the temple in Guruvayoor after taking shower and held prayers. Then we came outside and exchanged rings in the temple complex. Since the place was so crowded nobody noticed us. Then we exchanged the Tulsi garlands in the place where our car was parked,” Nikesh remembers.
The couple feels that decriminalisation of homosexuality is a milestone in India’s history. Nikesh says September 6 is our Independence Day. But, it is not enough. “Our fight will continue until we get the equal rights as everyone to get married and adopt kids,” he says.
A Chennai-based LGBTQI organisation is planning to approach the Supreme Court with the support of the homosexuals who’ve come up across the country seeking to legalise homosexual marriage. The group is in touch with the couple who lives together in an apartment in Kochi too.
Nikesh and Sonu are optimistic that once the Apex Court rules in favour of them they can get married in officials records as well. “As family we are facing a lot of problems, we can’t call us married while filling forms for bank accounts and bank accounts, and we have to fill our names in the columns as ‘single’ even though we’re married.”
The couple wants to adopt a kid abandoned by his or her parents. "The child can get two fathers instead," Nikesh said.
Following the announcement of their marriage on Facebook, a lot of people, including friends and colleagues came out in support of them. “Coming generations will get the fruit of our sufferings,” Nikesh said.