The topic of homosexuality in India have a controversial history owing to the ban that came into formulation during the reigns of British and hasn’t been revoked since then. Even in 21st liberal, modern society we claim to comfortably move around in, homosexuality is seen as a taboo, unnatural concept, which is highly debated about, but is far from being embraced.
So, when Rishi Agarwal thought to came out, it was a bitter battle that he had to fight with himself to come to terms with his identity. On a plane ride back home to Vancouver in 2004, an incident changed his life and he thought, whatever happens, whatever the reactions of people around will be, he has to come out.
When Agarwal told his mother that he had something important to tell her, she ran to the garage to fetch her husband. “I thought Rishi was in big trouble, maybe he had gotten a girl pregnant or something,” she said. But she was devastated when Rishi made his announcement.
But unlike other parents, Rishi’s parents though initially devasted and rigid to the idea, decided to do a deep research on LGBTQ. They went to the local library and borrowed everything they could find on the LGBTQ subject – from books to DVDs made by the National Film Board of Canada.
They also started attending meetings of the Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays chapter in Toronto that took place once a month. “At that time, we really needed the support,” said Vijay Agarwal. “Because the thoughts were coming, why us? What did we do wrong? When we went to the first meeting, we felt – thank God we are not alone. There are others like us. This means it’s not that unnatural.
Soon after Agrawal came out, he met Daniel Langdon and decided to get wed in Canada. That was in 2011. Agrawal’s threw a big fat typical Hindu marriage, and very subtly, without knowing changed the entire conversation around homosexuality in India.
As far as Rishi is concerned, his parents’ support for the LGBTQ has benefited him on a personal and public level.”Over the last 12 years, many of my friends, who saw the way my parents handled the situation, started talking to their own families,” he said. “They told me how their relationships have improved. And those friends have now become some of my closest friends.
It is important for parents to be more open to understanding, and to know that homosexuality is as justified as heterosexuality. We hope India sees more Agarwal’s who embraces the notion, rather than giving in to the stereotypes. Kudos to the Agarwal family, and congratulations to their son on a happy wedding!