Quintessential big fat Indian weddings entail all the usual — one year of planning, gruelling long discussions over flowers, cake and venues, and searching in vain for a consensus on the perfect date. This one was no different with a Mehendi ceremony complete with almost everyone getting intricate henna tattoos, a poolside Haldi with marigold flowers and a drum circle.
And at the end of the festivities, the spouses were pronounced husband and husband.
“We wanted to do things our way, and the wedding had no traditional or religious barriers. Our families and friends danced their hearts out with us at our Sangeet ceremony, which was called ‘Ye Shaam Mastani (This lively evening)’ with a Bollywood band to jazz it up. We exchanged rings while saying our vows to each other where Sophia David, a trans woman, was our wedding officiator,” Supriyo Chakraborty, a 31-year-old hospitality professional from Kolkata, tells The Better India.
Supriyo married Abhay Dange, a 35-year-old software developer from Delhi, in a private ceremony in Telangana, Hyderabad, in December 2021. Shortly after, the couple’s ceremony pictures went viral.
“We have been together for almost eight years now, and it all started with a dating app — Planet Romeo,” says Supriyo. “Abhay is very simple and does not pretend. He is himself in every sense of the word. He is a strong individual and takes his ground and sticks to it.”
Abhay adds, “I like Supriyo’s childlike innocence and charm. He also never lets his difference of opinion take the foreground. He gives me space, and I appreciate it.”
The duo share learnings from their relationship, and Supriyo adds, “Our core values, beliefs and ideas of a relationship are very similar, which makes our journey worth it. A relationship stands on the firm grounds of mutual respect, which is something we would never compromise on. A person who is right for you will always bring out the best in you, and that is something Abhay has been doing for all these years, and I am so grateful.”
However, it wasn’t always smooth sailing. “Our parents weren’t initially the most supportive. Being Indian parents, they did not instantly accept it. However, they also didn’t strongly disapprove of it. They decided to give themselves and us a good amount of time to introspect and come to a better conclusion. Now, we have their complete acceptance and support,” says Supriyo.
“Upon reading, I realised that homosexuality was a crime in India, and I was disheartened as a young child,” says Abhay, who had to read up on homosexuality to accept himself. He adds, “I read that this is not ‘abnormal’ and that’s when I accepted myself.”
Another challenge was the bold statements of peers and acquaintances who had no shame in admitting they didn’t ‘understand’ queer relationships. “A lot of people usually confuse us to be friends or brothers, which is something we understand as heterosexuality is the more popular norm,” says Abhay.
Supriyo adds, “We don’t mind that. So many people ask same-sex couples — ‘Who is the husband, and who is the wife?’ That is obnoxious and completely wrong because that is not how same-sex relationships work.”
“I have been asked if I have had tests done to check whether I’m indeed gay. It didn’t make me angry, but I felt quite disappointed at the ignorance. People need to learn and evolve,” Abhay says.
All said and done, Supriyo and Abhay’s wedding had the complete support of their parents. “They were extremely happy for us and did everything they would have done if it was a heterosexual relationship,” says Supriyo.
He adds, “We always wanted to have a wedding, and a year ago when I shared this with my extremely supportive mother and saw how ecstatic she was, that was it for me. A year of planning and the most important thing I was focused on was inclusivity.”
“A wedding should be between a spouse and a spouse, not two genders,” says Supriyo. “A great wedding is not when the perfect couple comes together, it’s when all their loved ones accept and support them like family. It’s a celebration of love.”
Their message to couples and individuals struggling to come out of the closet — just be yourself. “Coming out is a journey, and in a world where we have to fight for so much, you’re a reminder of all the goodness that comes with being who you are. I hope you are surrounded by people who you love and accept you as you are,” says Supriyo. “People need to break the equivalence between straight and ‘normal’. Also, people should stop being pseudo supporters. Performative allies are not what the community needs. It should simply be about acceptance.”
A brief moment later, Abhay adds, “It’s unfair that only queer people have to ‘come out’. That puts us under a lot of pressure as being straight is assumed to be the norm. I would want straight people to also explicitly come out — whether at schools, colleges or the workplace. That would be a great way to show support and ‘normalise’ homosexuality.”
(Edited by Vinayak Hegde)