On September 6, last year the Supreme Court partially struck down the barbaric and colonial-era Section 377 thereby decriminalising homosexuality in its historic verdict. Since then the entire nation is celebrating the victory of love and calling it an “Azadi (freedom) movement”. Now almost five months after the verdict, Mumbai hosted its first same-sex marriage at Anantha hotel, Kanjurmarg, last week.
According to the Mumbai Mirror, Vinod Phillip, 43, the founder of India’s first LGBT choir, Rainbow Voices in Mumbai, and his French husband, Vincent Illaire, 47, hosted their reception in Mumbai as the couple claimed that the city made them empowered enough to come out loud about their sexuality.
Feel in love
Vinod who is a native of Chennai, met Vincent in Paris through a dating app in July 2016. The duo really enjoyed being with each other and went out on several trips together for the next six months. But it was only when Vincent left for Thailand for a while that made the two realise about the depth of their love.
In 2018, the duo decided to make their love formal. Soon after that, both came down to Chennai to met Vinod’s family. Even thought Vinod’s family was aware of his sexuality yet the couple were still not sure how the family would react to the news. However, as they say, love can win anyone’s heart, Vinod’s family also happily accepted the two and also made Vincent completely feel at home.
The two got married last year in Paris but wanted to host a reception in India for a long time. When asked why they choose Mumbai for their wedding reception Vinod said it was Mumbai which embraced him and gave him the strength to come out to the world in 2014. He added that the Mumbai-based LGBT rights NGO Humsafar Trust, helped him do so.
Coming out was not easy
There has been a social stigma around same-sex orientation in our society from a very long time, and many had to struggle enormously to come out in front of friends and family.
For Vinod, it was the same, like many others it was difficult for him to open up. Vincent said, for Vinod coming out was pretty difficult considering his ‘very conservative Christian family’. He added that initially, Vinod’s family was shocked to find out about their son’s sexual orientation, but then they understood it. On the other hand, Vincent’s family had accepted his sexual orientation for long.
The couple booked the Anantha hotel in Mumbai for their wedding reception as back in the day when Vinod was in the city and lived in Bhandup he uses to visit the hotel quite a lot of time.
Hotel staff made them feel happy
During the preparation for the reception, the two did not disclose the hotel that it was a same-sex wedding reception. However, after the hotel’ athorities got to know about it, their response was overwhelming, as they went ahead of their way to make the couple comfortable.
The couple said that the hotel staff made them really happy and treated them like any other married couple and floored them, making it a memorable party for them and their guests.
Humsafar Trust’s founder, Ashok Row, one of India’s most vocal gay rights activist who bravely stood for not just himself but for many others while seeking justice and freedom for the whole community, lauded the reception calling it a “charming validation of same-sex marriage from family and friends”. He added, “I wish them a wonderful companionship ahead,” he said. The Activist further said that the city had held first same-sex wedding reception unofficially in 1984.