A couple, all set to tie the knot, take time off their wedding shopping and planning for a photoshoot. But then the photos go viral along with the message it conveys. But then Nived Antony Chullickal and Abdul Rehim are not just another couple.
The message the men from Kerala wanted to send across was clear — same-sex weddings are like any other wedding and are perfectly ‘normal’.
“We didn’t expect it to go viral at all. It wasn’t done to get publicity but to spread the message to people in my community that this is possible, this is normal,” says Nived, a 27-year-old Client Coordinator at Teleradiology Solutions in Bengaluru.
“We did the photoshoot because we wanted to do everything that normal couples do for their weddings. So, we have planned for haldi, sangeet, mehendi and everything,” the excited would-be-groom told indianexpress.com over telephone.
The couple, who is looking forward to an English wedding around some pristine location in Bengaluru, most likely overlooking a lake, said the date and location haven’t been finalised yet. However, they definitely want the ceremony before the New Year, getting into the new decade on a special note.
Their romantic photoshoot, captured in two parts, one at their home with their pet dogs and guinea pigs and the other out in a natural setting is giving #CoupleGoals to many online. Their love captured in the candid frames has also been coming in for a lot of appreciation.
“We did it to show that gay couple shoots can be as beautiful and romantic as any other couple shoot and there’s nothing cringy or vulgar about it,” Nived stressed, highlighting how some previous photoshoots from the community had come in for flak.
Highlighting how scary and daunting the feeling of coming out of the closet is, the man from Kochi wanted to reassure all from the LGBTQ community that there is always light at the end of the tunnel. “I know how scary it can be. Coming out is not easy. Openly expressing your love is sadly still not easy in our country and it might come to haunt you for sometime. But once that light shines on you it just gets better,” he said.
“I just hope our photoshoot makes others realise it’s better to just do it and not wait or miss out on anything in love because it’s beautiful.”
Five years into the relationship, the two knew they wanted to be together and have a family. In 2018, when the Supreme Court partially revoked Article 377, they knew it was time to take the next step. When his 32-year-old partner, who works in the UAE, popped the question, it all aligned perfectly.
“Rehim proposed. We initially used to think maybe we would get married in the US or Canada, as we had to be a little discreet with the law hanging over our head. But when it happened, we thought, ‘Why not in India?’”
Although the couple say they haven’t received any hate online and has no space for negativity in their life, their families are not on board. “Our wedding will be a normal one, expect that our parents and family will not be part of it. They are not accepting and want no part of it, however are peaceful and not the threatening kind,” he said.
“But we have our friends, colleagues and family from the community who support and love us to the bones, and we couldn’t have been any happier and grateful,” he added.
With the support from his trans-mom, Sweety Bernad, Malayalam Jeevan TV News Reader who went viral last year from breaking barriers and his trans-sister, Sathya Narayanan, who are going to be part of the haldi and mehendi ceremony, Nived is quite content.
But that’s not all. Two years down the line, they also are looking forward to having a baby to complete their family and was excited to share that a close friend has agreed to be their surrogate mother.
Calling it the “best gift”, the beaming would-be groom said, “We always used to think about having kids but wasn’t sure how. Although surrogacy for same-sex couple isn’t an option now, through IVF we can achieve it. Having someone agreeing to do it for us it the best gift.”
“In the end I feel, everything works out so, for anybody out there deciding to follow this path, we just want to show this is possible. You can make it normal and it will be normal one day,” Nived added.
When they do exchange vows later this month, they will be Kerala’s second openly married gay couple.