In honor of Valentine's day, we decided it’s a good time to spread a little love with love stories from couples we know. Because if love has no boundries, it’s only natural that human rights and equality have no boundaries... enjoy.
Writer, poet, artist, and activist Sushant Naidu retells the path of meeting his partner Parks and the obstacles he had to overcome with regards to his sexuality and coming out to his South Asian family.
Meet Sushant & Parks...
Rashima:Can you tell us how you met your partner?
Sushant: We met two years ago at ‘Inspire Spiritual Communities,’ an LGBTQIA spiritual center in West Hollywood, California. Parks was working as the administrative assistant and teaching yoga there, and I was in the Practitioner Training Program. We would see each other all the time at various events at the center and had the usual ‘hi/how are you?’ conversation, nothing really deep. You could say we were just acquaintances, but got to know each other better through various projects that we had worked on. A year later, we went to a retreat done through Inspire. One late night at the retreat, we ran into each other. I was going to the kitchen to get some water and he was turning off all the lights. We’d never been alone like that before, and talked for a while. It was the beginning of something. After that, we hung out a couple of times as friends. Two months after that retreat, one night, at a friend’s party, is where I really felt that there was something between us. We were standing next to each other, listening to a friend talk. Our arms touched slightly. I slowly grabbed his hand, looked him straight in he eye and asked if he wanted to leave the party. He smiled and said yes, and that was that. It was April 1st, 2016.
Rashima: What are the dynamics of your relationship, what endears you most about your partner?
Sushant: I tend to be a little bit more serious than Parks but we both laugh quite a bit. He is a little more laid back. I really like how emotionally open, sweet, kind, generous, and supportive he is. How kindly he communicates honesty blows me away. I love how he is always game for anything. It’s hard not to feel his pure heart and his dedication to being of service in the world. Oh, and he is also an amazing yoga teacher!
Rashima: Do you have a family, or would you like to have one?
Sushant: No we don't have a family and are happy with just the two of us.
Rashima: Did you face any difficulty being together? Does your country allow for your relationship to exist? How did you overcome these difficulties?
Sushant: The biggest challenge came when I told my parents and extended family that I was going to be bringing Parks to meet them in India. My parents freaked out! I had told them about him, but in their mind, it might not have been real. Bringing him home would make it super real. My dad specially went through a hard time with it. I had family members calling me, telling me how hard my dad was taking this, that I should reconsider bringing Parks, and think of my parents’ happiness.
I know what my dad is capable of. This is a man, who saw his life completely destroyed by the First Gulf War and rebuilt it. So, I wasn’t buying that me bringing my boyfriend home was getting him this down. When my mom told me he was depressed, I said, “Maybe he should see a psychologist!’ When he said that he felt that I didn't respect him, I said, “I respect a lot of things that you have done in your life and for us, but I just don’t respect your way of thinking on this (LGBTI) issue.“ Despite what everyone said, including my dad, I kept holding the vision of seeing my dad’s highest potential in this situation.
I did end up bringing Parks to meet my parents and family. They all, including my parents, love him and are constantly telling me how amazing he is.
Despite Paragraph 377, and the social stigma in India around homosexuality, we kiss and hold hands in public, whenever we want to express our affections for each other. We usually get curious and puzzled stares.
Rashima: These days, it seems hard to focus on love and on humanity. On this valentine’s day, on a day of love, what message would you like to send to the world about love?
Sushant: Love is the light that shines in us, it is the light we see in others. Even when we see that their light might be a little dim, we hold the vision for their flame burning bright. I think that’s what love is.
Published on February 14, 2017 | OutRight Action International an LGBT human rights organization