It was when I was 29 that I could not anymore turn a blind eye to the pressure from my family...

For Sonu, his decision to come out to the world came after he could no longer avoid his parents' wishes for him to get married. Although he too wanted a life where he was happy with someone, it could not be with a woman. His conscience did not allow him to lead a fake life and cause suffering to someone who would agree to be his wife. This is what ultimately led to Sonu telling his parents, "I cannot do this, I am gay, This is who I am."

For my parents, the initial thought and mindset were that what I felt was a medical condition that could be cured with treatment at a hospital.

Like any other conservative Indian family, his family did not accept him right away. However, Sonu showed us a considerate side of him by absolving them of any fault. All they knew about the LGBTQ community then was from media that horribly misrepresents the community and uses them for comic interventions. Sonu tells us that his partner Nikesh became a pillar of strength for him during that period in his life. With Nikesh's support, Sonu's parents met an LGBTQ+ friendly doctor who quickly removed all stereotypes and educated them about the spectrum.

Sonu and Nikesh met on a dating app and, after quickly realizing how compatible they were, decided to get married in 2018. They both silently went to Guruvayur Temple in Thrissur in Kerala, wore the traditional attire, went inside the premises, and got married. Weddings sanctified in this temple are auspicious and are considered to last forever. They exchanged rings and declared each other soulmates for life.

So while 377 has been decriminalized, it still does not provide us with any rights.

Nikesh and Sonu's marriage garnered much media attention because they were one of Kerala's first couples to discuss their marriage openly. However, the biggest pain point is that although they got married with all religious traditions, their bond is still not considered legal. Sonu's frustration is evident, considering despite their promise to spend their life as a couple, they don't have the privileges that every heterosexual married couple can enjoy. When they sign any official documents, they cannot mark being 'married,' they cannot start adoption procedures, property separation, and other banking details are a nightmare. That's the reason Nikesh and Sonu decided to come out to the whole world and publically take on the Indian state in the battle to legalize queer marriages.  

Despite having earned various accolades and encouraging many other LGBTQ couples to move courts, they do not consider themselves role models. Their humility shines through when they frame their efforts as the bare minimum that they could do to empower the community.

Back in 2018, when we came out and would post our photos as a married couple on social media, we faced quite a lot of homophobic comments and responses.

Sonu and Nikesh are quite vocal about their journey and love on social media. While many people were inspired by their story, they also faced a lot of trolling, hate, and cyberbullying. Faceless users who hid behind fake accounts went on to give them death threats. However, the couple did not take this lying down and registered a formal complaint. Although Sonu remains appreciative of the efforts of the police administration in arresting the culprits, loopholes and the lack of legal structures to protect the LGBTQ community meant that the culprit was ultimately let go after a settlement.

Sonu and Nikesh's love for each other shines through in their videos, where they celebrate festivals, attend pride marches, and even their silent glances. They want a life together, they want a child, and our judicial framework does not give them these fundamental rights. Sonu is aware that the time and effort it took for 377 to be decriminalized indicates that securing equal civil rights will be a long battle. But he knows that they don't have that time and it is unfair for them to have to wait. This desire to live their lives on their terms with the same freedom that others enjoy gives Sonu the strength to continue fighting against normative societal structures.

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