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Sundeep & Sharath Share Their Experiences with Getting Married, as Members of the LGBTQIA+ Community

Summary

On October 31, 2020, we interviewed Sundeep Dosanjh and Sharath Puttichanda to learn about their experiences as 2 Gay Indian men, who recently got marreid.

Below is the full transcription of the episode. To listen to the episode instead, follow this link.

Episode Transcription

[00:00:00] Kamran: Welcome to the PlanEvents.ca Podcast. Today is October 31st, 2020. Happy Halloween to those listening. This is your host Kamran. In today’s episode, I have two of our guests on, Sandeep and Sharath. They recently, I think in September (they can correct me if I’m wrong) , but I think it’s September, the two of them had gotten married and coming from the LGBTQ plus community thing, there were a lot of challenges and obstacles that they overcame.

And I think sounds like continue to overcome and,the PlanEvents team felt like this, that we wanted to, we needed this kind of representation on our platform. Like we need awareness about kind of the different communities, uh, in the South Asian community. Um, the different types of experiences they have in the marriage process, especially when it’s, especially when it’s from, I think, um, underrepresented groups, you know, even within, you know, to begin with as a South Asian you’re.

If you’re in the North, in North America, you’ve generally underrepresented. And then even within your own community, it can be further underrepresented. So we’re going to talk about, you know, a little bit about the two of them, how they met, what were their experiences like coming out? So this is, you know, before they met.

Um, how did they, you know, get married? How was the marriage received by their family, um, religious institutions and also the general public. So with that said, I’m going to hand off to some deep and Sharat so that the two of them can introduce themselves, um, so that the listeners can, uh, get a sense of who we’re speaking with.

Um, Sundeep and Sharathyou want to go ahead and do your intros?

Sundeep: Sure. Um, my name is Sundeep Dosanjh. I am a proud member of the LGBTQ plus community. I am a very proud Sikh, Punjabi American born citizen, that cherishes the Indian culture. And I am honored to have found my life partner and, um, participate in two groundbreaking, traditional Indian ceremonies. I

Sharath: I’m Sharath Puttichanda, and much like my husband, I too am a proud member of the LGBTQ plus community. And, um, you know, it’s been an episode on other, uh, to have met fall in love. It’s a deep, uh, I, um, uh, from the Southern part of India, uh, ethnically speaking, I belong to the cadaver community from Korg. Um, I was born, uh, in India, but you know, my life journey took me to the Middle East, New York, Rhode Island.

And then finally now to California, where I just moved to be with my husband. Um, and I, to just like some deep, sad, um, I’m very, very proud to have had. Two beautiful ceremonies that showcased both parts of our cultures and the coming together. Um, more important to have both those cultures and celebrating love and oneness and equality.

Kamran: Awesome. Thank you. Yeah. And just for some context, Sharat literally moved into his new permanent home, like five hours ago. So I really appreciate both of you making the time to come on to this pod and a couple of things I wanted to, um, clarify for our listeners. Can you, uh, um, one of you, uh, articulate, what does LGBTQ I a plus, what does that stand for?

Sundeep: So it’s a great question. So a lot of people see it and they just don’t get it. Um, they hear LGBT, um, and then they see Q I a plus, and they don’t necessarily understand it, but it means it means lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, transgender. Gender queer, queer intersex, age, gender based sexual and ally community.

So the plus stands for any other way that members of the community identify that. [00:05:00] And, you know, personally for me being part of a community that welcomes and embraces any person. That you know, is looking or a family, you know, it really speaks to what all humans want in life. Totally like relationships and social acceptance, um, and to just be part of a broader community.

Exactly.

Kamran: Thank you. Um, and then I kind of have my second question. This is, um, Coming from a place of being a nerd. So I don’t want to spend too much time on it, but Shira, can you tell us a little bit about like who, who are people of the Kodava community? I know you mentioned Southern India, but you know, are they typically associated with a particular state?

Are they. You know, across multiple States, like many, um, communities in the sub-continent are. Um, and you know, what religion do you identify with as it relates to? Um, it sounds like your two ceremonies, so the ceremony from your end. Yeah, sure.

Sharath: Um, yeah, I think, you know, the Kodava, uh, the word Kodava, the place Korg, uh, you know, uh, wasn’t.

It isn’t, I should say something that, um, you know, people, if people are from India, it’s not an easy place to kind of pick on the Indian map. So. Korg is actually in the Southern state of Karnataka. And the cut of us are the curves are uniquely only from that region. So they aren’t spread across different States or across the country.

They’re only from cork. Um, it’s famously known as the Scotland of India. It’s a, it’s a hill station. It’s a beautiful, beautiful region that’s filled with. Uh, Uh, a lot of coffee, estates of coffee is like a primary, uh, crop in Korg. And the Korgs or Kodavas are , um, primarily a martial, uh, tribal ethno-lingual community.

Um, they’re all sorts of theories on what the history behind the core exists. Um, but they are, uh, A very unique population in Southern India. There’s only a handful of us left in the world. Um, so, you know, that’s, that’s, what’s unique to, to court as far as religion goes. Uh, the Cordova has, um, You know, I worshipers of nature and ancestors.

So, uh, you know, the ceremony that we had, our, you know, any, any ceremony of significance and chord, um, very much has to do with in walking the blessings of the ancestors. Um, and, uh, the, the goddess Kaveri who, which is the Kaveri is the primary river or the life force that flows through court. Um, so, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s a very unique, um, you know, set of customs, very unique set of traditions.

Um, you know, and, and for all the reasons that I’ve described, you know, you can hear the pride in my voice as to, uh, you know, why I think, you know, Korg and Kodavas are just, um, such beautiful, welcoming open-minded people. And I think, you know, Tying that back into why we wanted to highlight that for both our cultures was, was exactly because of what I’ve described.

Um, so that in a nutshell is who the courts, the court of us are, what they’re about. Um, you know, what the land looks looks like and who they identify as, uh, from a religious religious perspective.

Kamran: Got it. That makes sense. And I have like one last question. I’ll try to make it quick so I could have, as you know how there’s essentially, like, I think it threw out like various parts of India, like central, um, Southern there’s various, um, I won’t call them.

I don’t know what to call them, but they’re basically like the language they speak has no affinity with the Northern Indian languages nor the Southern Indian languages. Um,

Sharath: correct.

Kamran: Okay. Okay. So they’re, they’re, they’re like, it’s like they kind of, that community could, uh, very much, very well, like preexisted before like many of the many of the, I guess let’s say like, I don’t wanna say modern, but like newer, uh, uh, inhabitants of like essentially all of India, like Southern, Northern, like, is that.

Sharath: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. You’re, you’re kind of correct about that. The Korgs, uh, speak a language known as Kodavatak , which, uh, literally translates to the Kodava language are, you know, sometimes [00:10:00] colloquially known as Korgi. Uh, so it does not, um, it, it has some vague similarities to some South Indian languages, uh, by virtue of being in South India.

A lot of the languages is a lot of the language is influenced by neighboring States. Uh, like Kerala are, uh, it’s in the state of Karnataka as a Kannada itself. Um, I suppose the origin of the Kodava is, or the Korgs go. Uh, they had a very unique, uh, set of people in Southern India, the clothes they wear, the jewelry, the CA um, you know, the.

You know, that weaponry is very much a part of traditional court where, so, uh, you know, the swore, um, it’s also, it’s also an agricultural and hunting community. So the origin is, is debatable. Um, you know, there’s, there’s a lot of. PRS, whether it was Mediterranean in origin and then people migrated to Southern India.

Uh, so there are a lot of different theories on how they originated, but, um, yeah, they are. They’re very unique in that the language, the clots, uh, the food, uh, auto fit is very unique. Um, and does not share any similarity even with the surrounding areas in Southern India.

Kamran: That’s so cool. I think I’ve, I’m kind of a nerd about that, but I won’t nerd out the internet with the audience too, too much longer, so I will bring it back into, um, your marriage.

So can you, the two of you share how both it, I mean, I I’ve, I’ve heard stories, that sounds like a very modest way to meet the two of you kind of one or the both of you could speak to that.

Sundeep: Yeah, I’ll speak to it. Um, so I was traveling in Machu Picchu, Peru, and, um, I was, uh, I took a picture and I posted it on Instagram and around the same time Schroth was yearning to travel.

So he was. Just combing, um, Instagram looking at travel pictures and he, um, was looking at pictures of Peru. Uh, coincidentally, his neighbor was also the same time period that I was. So he was looking at pictures and he came across my picture. I posted and he was intrigued by the elements in that picture.

And, uh, then he decided to click on my profile and he, I guess he became more intrigued. Um, and then fast forward a couple weeks later, I was in Seattle. Coincidentally, I, uh, had a bad experience with the Lyft driver, inappropriate, uh, Racist comment to me. Um, and I was pretty irritated, so I didn’t respond to him or answer his question and I posted it on Instagram.

Um, and then Sharath felt compelled to answer and he shot back a heated response in support of my experience and, um, Shared his own experience. And I was intrigued and I clicked on his profile and I didn’t treat. And then I followed back cause he’s been following me since I was in Peru. And, um, and then we started chatting and then a few days later he asked for my phone number and we started texting and.

Talking on the phone. And he went on a trip to New York city that weekend a few days after we first started chatting and he, um, would FaceTime me and we had our third FaceTime date. And I said, so I don’t know what’s going on here, but I can’t move out of Northern California. Mostly because of family obligations being the only family. And he said, I haven’t met. So that moment I literally – and we had our first in-person date on February 20th, but before that was Valentine’s day. So I sent a bouquet of flowers to his emergency room. Cause he is an E.R. Doctor with the focus in psychiatry. And he is mad at me [00:15:00] now that I even mentioned. So I sent a bouquet of flowers to the ER and I, um, it was a surprise and everyone was all giddy because. Sharath received a bouquet of flowers and no one knew, knew who it was from, except for the very close people that he shared, that he was chatting with this guy in California, from Instagram, when he slid into his DMs. So, um, he was very, uh, emotional once he received the flowers.

And then, um, later that same day we had our first. Uh, virtual date. And, uh, he went to Cheesecake Factory or I’m sorry, PF Chang’s in Providence, Rhode Island. And I went to P.F. Change’s Here in Sacramento. So with the time difference, we, um, you know, had to make sure that we made it in time for the East coast time.

Um, but also we wanted to share the same menu, even though we were more than 3,000 miles. So we’d have first date conversations. And then a week later we had our second date at the Cheesecake Factory, um, and had second date conversation. And then a few days after that, we had our 10 day date, uh, where I met him at baggage claim in person at SFO San Francisco international airport, um, picked him up and then we started our 10 day date.

In San Francisco. And then he came to Sacramento and that my siblings, and then we drove down to the coast, um, to Carmel and, um, and then we ended our 10 day date and immediately made plans for March, but COVID hit. So we had to adjust our plans and instead he wore full PPE. Flying back and forth to Sacramento or quarantine in a hotel.

Um, at least one to two times a month for four to five days each time. So we were, uh, getting to know each other throughout the shelter in place orders. And, um, I proposed on, um, May 24. On the beach with the Golden Gate Bridge in the backdrop, uh, two photographers, snapping all the pictures, um, and he had no idea.

And he said, yes.

Kamran: That’s awesome. Wow. That’s, that’s, that’s really in depth. Thank you for sharing that. That’s really neat. I think it’s, um, first off I have like two comments. I think it’s cool. Um, that you were able to kind of really make things work, uh, virtually and then, you know, throughout the pandemic.

And then the second thing is kind of a side note. I think I’ve never been to the P.F. Chang’s in Providence, but I had been the Providence once in my life. And I just remember Providence having like one shopping center where they had like Cheesecake Factory and a couple other nice restaurants .

Sharath: The mall. The Providence Place mall.

Kamran: Is that where that P.F. Change’s is?

Sharath: That is where the PF Chang’s is. Yes.

Kamran: That’s so funny. Nice. Um, that’s awesome. So can you share, um, mean, it sounds like, uh, you know, proposed in may and then got married in September, what was, uh, but before we jump into the wedding, I kind of want to step back a little bit and I want to understand.

What were your individual experiences like coming out? Right? Like some people might wait till they are in college to tell their parents and families, some might tell them earlier, like for, for each of you, what w what were those, when did, when did you come out to your immediate family? Like your parents, and what did that look like for the two of you?

Sharath: Um, uh, wow. That is a trip down memory lane. So for me, I think, uh, you know, the way. That my life trajectory flawed. Um, I was, I was born in Southern India. Um, and I was raised by my grandparents for the first several years of my life. And, um, uh, my parents were in the middle East and Muscat, Oman, and you know, I, I joined them later.

Um, I mean, I think that when I was 13, 14, I begun, uh, You know, knowing that, you know, that, that, that I was gay, that I was attracted to men and that it was, you know, as is the experience. But a lot of people in the community, there was an incredible amount of, [00:20:00] um, guilt and shame associated with it. There was an incredible amount of fear.

Um, I did not talk about it with anyone. Um, I had it all in, um, you know, um, and my experience growing up, uh, doing my early years in, in Southern India and the Middle East was that, you know, people around you, even your closest friends, um, got hints. Are you, you hinted at it, but, uh, it, it very much is this culture of pretending like it doesn’t exist.

Uh, so if it doesn’t exist and you don’t acknowledge it, then you don’t have to talk about it. So I think very much for me, um, you know, that became the norm. Uh, I would feel it, I would know it in my heart of hearts, but I just learned to quash it. I learned not to talk about it. I learned not to bring it up and that it would, you know, you, you, you kind of almost delude yourself into thinking this is not going to be an issue I’m going to get over it.

Um, you know, eventually. You know, you realize that no, it’s not going anywhere. It’s, it’s, it’s very much at the core of who you are. It is not all of who you are, but it is an important piece of who you are. And as I came to that realization, I think I, um, was fiercely outspoken. Uh, To my later years in college, which will be 11th and 12th grade, uh, in boarding school in India.

Um, and then, and then in medical school, um, you know, but eventually I formally came out to my parents at the end of, um, medical school. So I was 20, 23, 24. Um, but you know, I had to carve out a path for myself after I, after I came out. So, you know, I was, I grew up a lot away from home. So one of the things that I did, you know, I say it, you know, lightly now, but, you know, I fled as soon as I came up.

Right. So I, I, I spoke my truth and I just left. Um, not knowing what that would look like and, you know, not knowing what the future would hold. And then, uh, that’s how I ended up, you know, invested in C um, you know, in New York. Um, and I think that finally, you know, kind of living in New York was when I, I came into my own and that I could actually say it out aloud that I could actually utter the words I am gay.

And that there is nothing wrong with it. And then I am a gay man and that there’s nothing wrong with it, that I’m gay in an Indian and there’s nothing wrong with it. Um, and, and all of those things, uh, that then involved, you know, several conversations with my parents. Um, obviously, you know, my extended family, my brother, my cousins, um, you know, I think a lot of it, you know, it was me having to overcome my own insecurities and inhibitions about what people would think of me.

I think for people of my generation and my siblings extended family, it hasn’t been an issue at all. Uh, obviously for, for my parents, it, it, you know, it, it took a while to navigate, um, Getting them to talk about it, uh, are being able to talk with her, being able to explain to them why there’s distance, why I left.

Um, but all of that has come full circle now, uh, you know, and, um, you know, both our families, I can speak for my family. I think Sandeep will speak for her, but we both feel it from both our families. Um, you know, it’s come full circle now to the point where. Um, my, my mom and dad are fiercely protective and defensive of us, but everything that has happened, so, uh, you know, takes it every time I hear that, you know, I take some moment.

For me to sit back and realize, wow, this journey has literally been all of my late teens, all of my twenties, a good part of my thirties to now. Uh, and that’s, I guess that’s the kind of work that’s the kind of process that has gone into it. Um, but somewhere, you know, you realize, you know, this is me, this is my truth.

This is who I am. That is no as to be. And, um, and I cannot be anyone else I can not offer any other defense or I give it except the fact that I am a gay man. Um, and you stick by that, uh, you know, I knew your drive home that point and as many different ways as possible, I guess. So that was my, my. Cutting out, you know, um, you know, not withstanding, uh, you [00:25:00] know, all the bullying and the shaming and, you know, the teasing and the pranks to, to school and college that you endure.

Um, you know, um, somehow I don’t have a formula in the book, but I’m here talking about it. Um, I guess. Just reiterating the fact that a simple sentence, like it will get better truly means it will get better. You know? So that’s, that’s been, that’s been my coming out journey and story.

Kamran: Awesome. Thank you for sharing. Um, Sundeep what was your experience like?

Sundeep: So I think a huge part of it involves coming out to yourself. Um, I came out to myself when I was about 13. Um, I didn’t know what my family posts making it. Um, I had figured out that if the worst case scenario of being exiled, uh, by the family would become true. Then I had to make sure that I was at a place where I could be self-sufficient.

Um, so I didn’t come out to my sisters until October, 2010, no, October 2009. We have not some, um, what is that? 11 years. Yeah, I think so. I failed. And then I came out to my best friend, um, a month later. And then I was living in San Francisco for work for a few years. And I, um, I was out at my job there. And during that time I was in a relationship. And that was my first relationship with a man and decided like, okay, the Supreme court just ruled that I had proposition eight was not legal. So they tossed it out. Therefore the Supreme court was on the side of. Same sex marriage. So I use that as well as, um, my relationship at the time and wanting to have it done by the age of 30 as motivators to come out to both of my parents.

Um, it took my dad a little while to, um, Come to terms with it. His love and support for me never changed. Same thing with my mom. Um, it literally took her 15 hours. Then she was back to normal with me. It just was like the initial like, Oh, and I mean, it’s, it’s a mindset change and you know, the hopes and dreams is that right?

Parents have for their kids. Um, and it does change. Um, and, and then, and when I introduced them to Sharath, um, I think it really hit home to my dad that, okay. Um, this, this must be the person that my son will marry, um, because Sharath kept coming around during, um, while we were like socially distantly seeing some family when Sharath was able to come visit me.

Um, so, and they, they love him. They loved him since day one. Um, and then during the wedding ceremony, my dad played a very active role in making sure that. We know that he and my mom supported our marriage and, um, we got creative and we made sure that it was, um, virtually being aired for Sharath’s family in India, so they could watch it.

And his parents both watched it and, you know, they were very supportive of it. Um, so. You know, it’s been a huge relief that my worst case [00:30:00] scenario idea never materialized, um, and looking back there probably was me just being super worried because it’s a fear that a lot of members of the LGBTQIA plus community have.

But it’s a big fear that members of the LGBTQIA plus, that are of Indian descent have and live every single day. So it’s, you know, I didn’t know what was going to come out of coming out and I’m grateful and I believe nothing has changed since.

Kamran: That’s awesome.

So, I mean, if I’m understanding correctly, like, like the marriage itself was not like a, like a surprise because it’s, it seems like both of you had come out to your parents like way before, uh, you know, individually, you know, by asserting your identities.

Is that, is that a fair assessment?

Sundeep: Yeah, for Sharath, yeah, but for me, um, you know, I would jokingly say, you know, mom, why don’t you go find me a good Indian boy to get married, to, you know, to go in line with, you know, the traditions of. Setting up an arranged marriage, you know, um, my parents are not that way with their kids.

They never arranged our marriages. Um, but my mom just gave me this look like having a traditional wedding ceremony is just not a thing for same sex couples. Um, and she never said it, but. Her. And that was initially a couple of months, but after I came out to her, um, that look, but obviously her mindset has evolved, um, over the years.

But also when I, you know, expressed our wishes of wanting to have traditional Indian ceremonies, because it’s who we are. But also I’m a, I’m a Sikh Punjabi man. You know, and I, for me, going to a wedding is, you know, involved, you know, the traditions of being being Punjabi, the same thing with our own way. We wanted our own traditions, um, showcased during our wedding ceremonies that we’ve attended our whole entire life.

So we made sure that we followed all of the rituals and, um, But it was, you know, it took a lot of, uh, research to make sure that we were able to do as much as possible, um, and take into account the U.S. Customs, um, headaches with getting things shipped from India. Um, but it was all worth it.

Kamran: That’s awesome.

Um, that kind of brings me to my next point, which is around the, um, so we have a sense of like how the family received the marriage. I was curious about what about the religious institutions? You know, for example, speaking for myself, Uh, you know, I I’m Muslim by identity and, uh, my fiance is Sikh. So early discussions, my parents were like, well, not my parents, my mom, my dad’s not religious at all, but my mom was like, yeah, like, you know, the marriage has to happen between two Muslims and yada yada.

And, you know, we found somebody they’ll, that’ll be able to do to do the, um, the officiation like, because. Technically any, any Muslim can do the officiation and really whether they are willing to do it with, you know, an interfaith couple is really, I think, from what I understand up to, up to their discretion.

So that there’s that one thing. And then from, you know, my fiance side, she had to find a place that already does interfaith ceremonies, because those are the ones that would be open to doing it because there certainly are, um, Some communities like some Sikh communities where, you know, the temple might not be willing to officiate an interfaith ceremony.

So, and that’s just interfaith, right? This is not even, not even bringing gender or your orientation into the picture. So I’d be curious, like, what was your, your, both your experiences like?

Sundeep: You know, I asked my dad to find a, a Baiji or a priest to, um, conduct art. Ceremony. And he never said it to me, but I [00:35:00] could see it in his eyes that he was concerned, um, uh, being turned down, um, and not being able to, uh, make our wish of having a traditional, uh, the jockey ceremony possible.

So, you know, I saw that look in his eyes of concern and, um, worry. So I started doing research and I remember attending destination weddings for family members in Cancun. So I reached out to one of them and I asked I’m like, Hey, um, how did you do that? Um, I got the contact information and I, I pitched our wedding to the priest and I.

Hope that we wouldn’t be turned down because it’s the same sex marriage ceremony and we weren’t. Um, and then they said, why would you ever feel that you’d have to beg a priest to conduct a wedding ceremony between two humans and it’s sold? I was like, you’re absolutely right. I can’t even please confirm.

So, but I mean, it’s so true though. Like, there is a lot of dissenters, there’s fundamentalists, there’s every type of person in every religion, but when it comes down to it, people forget that we’re all part of the human race and that’s the only thing that should matter. Everything else is secondary, right?

People don’t think that way instead they own it and they dig their feet down and it’s just, that’s where the conflict started. That’s where the discrimination starts. And you know, people from, you know, People have been dealing with discrimination for their whole entire existence. So why are we having inner discrimination when we should just be embracing each other and picking each other up?

Kamran: Yeah, I totally agree. And I think, um, I think I might know which, uh, men, uh, priest or ministry you might be speaking of. Cause I think there’s like. At least one, uh, resort in Cancun. I called I think Moon Palace. And they literally have like, yeah, we do six ceremonies and there’s like one guy that everybody uses.

Some I’m curious. I mean, we probably won’t know the answer here, but I’m really curious to know if it’s the same person, but that’s a really cool, um, That that worked out, um, Sharath, it sounds like, you know, both, you also had a ceremony to represent, you know, your identity, the Kodava identity. Were there any, what was your experience like when you, when you, when you had, when you had proposed that you need, you want to have a ceremony for you and Sundeep?

Sharath: Um, So what I thought it would be and how would we welcome?

And what happened after was I had never fathom, but again, like everything had came full circle. So for the Cordova, Germany, One of the uniqueness of the cut-over ceremony is that we do not, um, uh, there is no religious head presence. So in other words, there is no priest. There is no, um, you know, efficient that conducts the wedding.

So, um, the mother, the female, uh, head of the household, um, as well as. At editors and the family and worship worshiping the goddess Kaveri and your ancestors is what constitutes, um, you know, the, the sanctity of the marriage. So one step was that we didn’t require, you know, a priest just because Cordova, weddings in general don’t require a priest.

Um, my brother and sister-in-law my younger brother and sister no were very much from the get go onboard a hundred percent. Um, you know, of course COVID hat and, uh, several other, you know, political immigration issue is hit in the second half of this year. And neither my brother-in-law my brother, nor my sister-in-law, uh, who were in India at the time and stock, but who frequently traveled the United States?

They couldn’t travel. Um, they then, uh, without a question, you know, started. Uh, looking around for all the traditional, you know, um, everything from the clothing and the jewelry to, [00:40:00] uh, things that we would use in the marriage, on the ceremony, um, in India to ship it, uh, you know, making appointments in the midst of COVID getting us, uh, you know, ideas and then genuinely being excited by it.

Um, so it’s my extended family, my cousins. Um, so my. Because my dad’s brother’s son and his wife. So my cousin, brother, and sister’s sister-in-law, um, ended up actually officiating conducting the Korgi ceremony and the Korgi part of the wedding. Um, And, you know, I’ve said this often to Cindy to kind of see it all come together like that, uh, to see, you know, my family and deeps family, all of the same home, trying to put these things together, trying to make the ceremony happen, uh, looking for, you know, how do we with what we have and what we can have.

How do we best retain the spirit of a Kodava/Korg ceremony and wedding? Um, that was what we led with. And, um, again, we were, we were very proud of the fact that we were able to put off both ceremonies, uh, with as much detail as possible, given COVID given the constraints of whether or not we could have all the items for the wedding delivered on time.

Um, and all of that. What happened after was, uh, exactly what Sundeep was describing, um, you know, the, the, the news hit the Kodava community and Southern India, and I guess all of India, uh, at this point and, um, you know, the, uh, political figurehead, who’s the precedent of. Uh, one of the Kodava associations in the cap, which is the capital city of the Korg, which is a district and Karnataka put out a statement saying, you know, this blessed for me, you know, we did not, you know, we do not condone this and that, you know, I should be ostracized from the family and that I should be, uh, I should lose my last name and that he was going to write a letter to the North American Kodava. Association asking the I be extricated from things here. Um, so these were things that we never, I mean, yes, you expect, uh, you know, um, opinions. Yes. You expect, you know, um, people who will complain, but, um, did not expect that level of difference of opinion, you know?

Sundeep: So, um, just to backtrack a little bit right before our wedding, we, um, We, uh, I pitched the local TV station here and before shop and I decided to move forward with the wedding.

We thought about it. And, you know, we invited the media to raise awareness of a same-sex marriage, but a same-sex marriage with two traditional Indian ceremony. Um, and we knew. That if we did this, it will go big. Um, and we weren’t doing it for us. Uh, sure. Having, you know, media coverage for any of your events is cool, but we were doing this to really show the members of the Indian community that are still struggling to live their truth into the closet that, you know, It does get better lecture outside earlier, but also that anything is possible.

And if they can’t see representation of. Who they are in the media or on the internet, then it’s really lonely. And it’s really hard to find reasons to continue to live. You know, suicide is very high in the LGBTQIA plus community and a lot of people don’t talk about that, but, you know, having representation matters.

So. Well, we knew it would go big. And then the day before our wedding ceremony, we had the New York times call us and interview both of us, um, one hour each. Um, and we were featured in the New York Times, um, for our wedding and the wedding news story of the local TV station went viral. You know, it was picked up, uh, and it was covered and posted on the internet and people in the UK saw it, Canada saw it, all across, uh, the country here in the us and also India and Australia.

You know, we’ve gotten a lot of, a lot of, um, positive responses and dissenters. Um, majority of them were positive. Um, and then after [00:45:00] that we had our six minute, um, breeding, you know, highlight that we posted. And that went viral another round. Um, and we got a lot of media coverage in India with newspapers, covering what the politician said and, you know, then we had, um, journalists contacting us, wanting to get harder side and, you know, trot that I have been getting picked on and being bullied since we were born.

Um, And it’s not easy. And we’re used to the bullying and the discriminatory practices that society has placed against LGBTQ plus community members. And we’re used to it, but the people that are still struggling, they need to see people aren’t afraid of the backlash of living their truth. So that’s why we invited the media.

And that’s why we welcomed the discussions with that media outlets that reached out to us because it’s important. It’s important to let people know that we are just like them.

Kamran: Yeah. I think to general thing is, I mean, you can let me know if you disagree. Um, but I think, people need role models. And if, if, if somebody identifies a certain way that they don’t see somebody that looks like them or thinks like them, you know, out there, you know, taking a stand and like living their own truth then. Yeah. I can see that, that that’s lonely. So I think it totally makes sense. And I think, I mean, that’s, that was a key reason why we, why we brought the two of you on, because I think you’ll, you’ll get one swath of society. By being, unlike a primary American media outlet, you’ll get another, um, by being on various Indian media outlets.

But I, I personally think it’s important to get the cross section of South Asians in North America because you know, the whole homophobia from what I’ve seen, it’s, it’s still, um, still acceptable. It’s still an acceptable type of behavior attitude to have. Um, I’m sure the, both of you have seen it within the communities here.

And so that’s why I thought, you know, It was appropriate. It is appropriate, you know, to share your story on this platform. So it makes sense. And I think you were able to, um, speak to you, you know, how the general public received, um, the news. And so I think definitely insightful. So before we. Bring this podcast episode to a close do either of you have any, any words you absolutely want people to hear that you’d like to share here before we bring this to an end.

Sharath: I think you brought up a very, very relevant point. And as I was talking about for the ceremonies, you talked about how people need to see people who look like them are them be represented. And I think that I am. Wholeheartedly on the same page, uh, with some deep and, uh, you know, why we’re having the discussion in the first basis, um, that that really was simply our endeavor was to, yes, of course, celebrate our love and share that with, you know, our family and friends who have, you know, we cannot, you know, be more grateful for, for all their support and love.

But I think what the results have shown us is despite despite the dissenters, despite the loudness of the negativity, what we’ve felt is the support of the majority. It may not have been as loud as the naysayers. It may not have been as loud as the dissenters, but the number of, you know, just the sheer outpouring both from the Sikh community, as well as the Kodava community.

People who we do not even know, uh, you know, talking to us and sharing their personal stories, uh, telling us that they support us. Um, you know, that’s the word we imagined. Uh it’s, it’s not because we needed, but that’s the goodness that we need to kind of stop believing in again. Uh, you know, when we say, are we other phrases, like love is love and love, always wins.

And you know, we are all created equal. Um, I think this, this journey for us and this experience for us has become even more sacred because we’ve lived it, we’ve seen. Um, and I just like to say, uh, kudos and more power to all of these people from across the world that have reached out to us. Um, you know, [00:50:00] you folks really proved us right. In, in why we decided to do this. Um, and to all those who are still living in the shadows who are still struggling to be their true selves, continue being your true self, you know? Um, and, and, and I just hope that, that, you know, this little, little endeavor by us goes. It has a far reaching effect in, in being able to offer that courage, offer that hope and, um, and, and just simply let people live their truths and be themselves.

Sundeep: Yeah, I would, I would add that it’s, it’s really difficult for shop and I to fathom the phrase, role model being attached to us. Um, it’s kind of uncomfortable. Um, but I don’t know. Maybe people do see us as role models, but to us we’re just normal people. Um, we didn’t do anything that, um, that we didn’t believe it.

Um, but we thought it was very important to. Share our experience with the world, just so people know that they’re not alone and that anything that they want to make happen can happen on their own timeline. And, um, you know, at the end of the day, history proves that it’s inevitable that same-sex marriages will.

You know, be accepted globally. India gained their independence.

Same-sex marriages will gain acceptance.

Kamran: I agree. Totally. Um, yeah. I, if anybody has questions for either of you. Um, I don’t want to flood your inboxes. Would you be open…

Sundeep: Oh it’s been flooded.

Kamran: I don’t want to add to the flood, but, um, if, if, if anybody has questions or anything like that, do you, they, do you have any resources you recommend or are you open to people just reaching out to you on some sort of medium like Instagram or anything? Like anything like that?

Sundeep: Yeah. People could definitely reach out to me on Instagram.

I have were pretty receptive to responding, um, to positive, uh, people or people that need some support.

Kamran: Of course. Okay. Awesome. So I’ll. Include, um, I think I’ll, I’ll, I’ll include both your Instagram handles if that’s fine with you. Um, and yeah, if anybody that’s listening, you know, you need somebody to talk to you’re in a similar situation or, you know, somebody that can, um, that can benefit from speaking to, you know, Sundeep or Sharath, um, take a peep at the, uh, episode notes and reach out to them.

Sharath: Yeah.

Kamran: Awesome. Well, I really appreciate, um, both of you coming on hope. Uh, Sharath your first day, first Halloween, uh, first everything in California, it seems like, um, is, um, the beginning of an amazing journey and, uh, same for you. The thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you. You too. Have a good evening. Thanks.

Sharath: You too. Bye.

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