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Apeksha Bagchi

IWB Blogger

From Strangers To Soulmates: Hayle And Kiran On Their Mumbai Love Story And London Wedding

  • IWB Post
  •  June 12, 2019

 

The year 2018 saw the judicial system of India make a landmark decision when the Supreme Court ruled that consensual adult gay sex is not a crime as sexual orientation is natural and one has no control over it. But it was just a partial win for the LGBTQ+ community as same-sex marriages are still termed as illegal in India.

Countless couples in India are still living an incomplete life thanks to a law that refuses to recognize their right to choose their partner, irrespective of gender. At the time London’s Hayle and India’s Kiran fell in love, even Section 377 hadn’t been scrapped and yet they already knew in their hearts that love will trump boundaries and it will find a way to make their story happen.

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Earlier this month, the couple got married in the United Kingdom and we at Indian Women Blog were enamoured by the amazing pictures of their beautiful day that they shared with us.

Excerpts from our chat with the lovely couple:

Do tell us about how you two met in the first place.

Hayle: In February 2018, I landed in Mumbai to start working on women’s rights. I’d left my entire LGBTQ+ support network behind in London and I was really sad about it. One of my friends persuaded me to download Tinder and I was really sarcastic about it at first because I didn’t want to date at all! But I’m so glad I did as within minutes I had matched with a woman, who introduced me into her WhatsApp group of close lesbian friends.

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I started messaging into the group and everybody responded and I felt very much accepted. A few days later Kiran was added to the group and straight away I noticed her sense of humour and the memes. The comments she made were really adorable plus she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen! By this point, I’d moved to Jodhpur for work and so I took a chance and messaged her directly on WhatsApp to say hi. I wasn’t really expecting anything but she messaged back and we really got on. Over the 3 weeks I was in Jodhpur, our messages turned into phone calls and then video calls.

Ooh! A digital-age love story! So, then what happened?

Hayle: We were virtually dating and getting to know each other and things were going really well. When I landed back in Mumbai, we met for the first time and one date turned into spending an entire week together. Something about being with her already felt like home! Two weeks later I was introducing her to my best friends and sibling in Goa and we have been going strong ever since!

Our bond grew stronger in Goa when we started discussing our future plans and expectations from a life partner. It was supposed to be a random chat but it ended up being quite meaningful for both of us. We realized that we both wanted to give each other a chance together and that’s why we travelled together to see how we got along. Turns out that we only felt more comfortable and connected the longer we were together.

That sounds like a fairytale, Hayle! But as we know, no story is without its share of hardships and hurdles.

Hayle: True that. Shortly after Goa, my work visa to India ran out and I was going to travel through Nepal. Thankfully, Kiran had flexibility in her job so she came with me. During our holiday in Nepal (We spent nearly a month there!), Kiran decided she wanted to pursue her studies in the UK, as earlier she had signed up for long distance course in Psychology in India. She applied to some universities in London and got through. Next came the complications of paperwork (IELTS, student visa, etc.) and it was quite nerve-wracking to complete all of these things.

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During this time my Indian visa also ran out and I had to return to the UK while Kiran was managing her own visa application. Not knowing if we would both be together again was the most stressful month of our lives! Thankfully things worked out and Kiran’s visa was granted in August 2018 and she flew to the UK a week later (neither of us could stand being apart any longer). Throughout this stressful process, we realized how badly we wanted to be together and when Kiran finally landed in the UK, it felt like a dream!

Kiran, why don’t you tell me about your side of the story?

Kiran: When I started talking to Hayle, I realized that we have a similar sense of humour and were getting each other’s jokes. The initial chats and calls made it much easier for me to get to know Hayle and when I finally met her, it did not feel like we were meeting for the first time.

Who proposed first and how? We are excited to know every single detail!

Kiran: We both knew that the next step is to get hitched! And, we went ring shopping in November and picked each other’s rings. The proposal, however, happened on December 13th at Kew Gardens, London. The day started with Hayle putting up 100 photos of us together in our bedroom and putting them into the shape of the words “I love you” and then printing out all of our first WhatsApp chats so that we could read. We then had a day of being together and relaxing before we went to Kew Gardens. It was a beautiful setup of Christmas lights and Hayle proposed to me first near the lake and I said yes!

Hayle: Later Kiran proposed me under the light tunnel. Although we were amongst a massive crowd, it felt like the world had stopped and it was just two of us.

You must have had so much fun planning your wedding. Tell me about it!

Hayle: In the UK, you have to give notice to the council office before you get married, with all the details of both the partners and the council then verifies the paperwork to make a decision whether further investigation is required, and this whole process takes between 29-70 days. We had decided the wedding date to be 1st of June, however, it all depended on the notice to marry coming through in time. The notice came through by the end of April. So we planned the whole wedding within a month!

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We had an Indian fusion wedding, taking a few parts of Kiran’s culture and a few from mine. Thankfully, Kiran had already bought our wedding sarees in India back in November as she knew we would use them at some point and we had chosen our venue in December. By this point, Kiran had exams so I did most of the organizing. We really wanted to get married on 1st June as it’s the first day of Pride month, so we wanted the rainbow cake as a form of celebration of our journey and that of many LGBTQ+ friends for whom marriage isn’t legal in their countries (including India). The rainbow umbrellas were also a celebration of Pride. I barely got through my vows because I was crying with happiness!

Kiran: For us, it was important to have both cultures represented in the ceremony itself. We also both wrote our own personal vows to each other which we read after we had legally exchanged rings. Neither of us ever thought we would get married.

So, in this big decision of becoming partners, were you supported by your families?

Kiran: Hayle came out to her family when she was 19 and it has been a process of acceptance, but they are very supportive including her extended family who all attended the wedding.

On the other hand, for me, it has been challenging, especially when I was living in India. We started dating in February 2018 not knowing how our future is going to pan out, however, when Section 377 was decriminalized (partially), it gave us confidence in taking the next step without worrying much about being safe. I came out to my mom in January 2019.

Hayle: She had met me few times while we were living together in Mumbai so she knew me as a person and was also fond of me. It made it a bit easier to make her understand. It is still a process of acceptance, but she still did attend the wedding.

While we at IWB are truly happy for you, we can’t ignore the fact that your marital status will be questioned in India.

Hayle: Same-sex marriage is not legally recognized in India and it means we might never be able to live in India as a married couple. It also makes us wonder if I can apply for Indian visa as Kiran’s spouse in future, since the marriage is only legally recognized in the UK. 

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This is something that we are struggling to figure out and will be seeking legal advice in the future, as well. However, it is challenging to find someone who is well versed in both LGBTQ+ rights in India and married Indian-Non-Indian couples. Our focus at the moment is on getting a spouse visa for Kiran to remain in the UK, which comes with its own challenges.

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