Eli (Left) & Neil (right)
Neil and Eli got married on 10th of October in California this year. So we jumped the gun, and decided to have small chit-chat with the two of them.
Q. Where and how did you two meet?
Eli: We met in downtown Modesto. Neil was on his phone with his best friend and not paying attention. We bumped into each other. Neil gave me a rude look. But there was a sparkle in his eye that gave me enough interest to ask him to go on a date. I waited outside the store until he returned and asked him to dinner. He accepted and we had our first date on January 31, 2008.
Q. Was it love at first sight?
Eli: I knew from the beginning that Neil would be a person worth keeping. After a few short months, all I wanted was to make him happy. From that point on, I knew it was love.
Neil: I remember Eli being very sweet and innocent. I really liked how he was himself through the evening on our first date. I really felt we had something there. I loved seeing him every week.
Q. How long have you guys been together? Relationships are a lot of work, aren’t they?
Eli: It will be 7 years on January 31, 2015. All relationships are work, but for us it doesn’t seem like we work very hard at it. We are brutally honest with each other…
Eli: … and I think that helps us to not have any misunderstandings.
Neil: It was a little challenging at first. I traveled five days a week for work, mostly out of the State, and it was really important we had date nights when I was home. What I loved about Eli was he really got along with my friends and family, which made managing all relationships easier.
Q. Who dropped the “M” word? How did it happen? Tell us!
Eli: We aren’t sure who used the term marriage first. However, Neil was the one to propose. He prepared a dinner party for me and our closest friends, disguising it as my birthday party.
Neil: I did propose first, but Eli was definitely hinting it for like three years. LOL.
Q. You had an Indian traditional way for your marriage ceremony. Was this a conscious choice right from the start?
Neil: Initially we wanted to make it quick easy and cheap with an American Civil ceremony; however, as we began planning the day we both wanted the Indian ceremony and the festivities that followed with it. We are very happy we decided on doing the traditional Indian Hindu Ceremony.
Q. Unfortunately Gay relationships are mostly short lived, what is the secret behind your success?
Eli: Knowing when to compromise. Having a good sense of humor and making sure your partner is your top priority.
Neil: There are all these expectations about being someone’s boyfriend or fiancé etc. There are so many questions when your first begin dating. How am I supposed to act around this person? Is he/she going to stick around? How much time and energy should I invest? I think the number one thing you have to remember is that you are starting a friendship, and to really treat this person like a true friend. Have open and honest discussions. If you are not getting along, then it’s better to cut the cord then continue dragging this person and yourself through months/years of unhappiness. Include this person in your daily life, travel together, and have lots of dates. I know it sounds redundant and overstated, be truly be yourself. I don’t think we would be here today if I couldn’t be myself with Eli.
Q. Are you guys out at work? How do your colleagues react when they come to know about sexuality and/or relationship?
Eli: I am out at work. Some of my colleague do have an issue with it, and have made comments, but most are accepting and love Neil.
Neil: How can anyone not love me! For me-I really don’t talk about it at work. I just don’t feel like it’s a big deal…do you? My close colleagues and managers know and love me for my work ethics rather than my sexuality. I am surrounded by professionals and intellects, and they truly see the bigger picture rather than focus on the wrong indices.
Q. From your experience, do you have any tips for other gay couples?
Eli: Learn to laugh at yourself and at each other. Travel and fall in love with the moment.
Neil: I want to quote Henry Thoreau here. I think it says everything I feel. “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams, live the life you have imagined.”
Q. Have you experienced first hand homophobia?
Eli: Yes. Every so often I experience some form of homophobic comments. However, as you get older you learn homophobic people are afraid of what they don’t understand and you begin to feel sorry for them because they are the ones who can’t cope.
Neil: Not really. I am sure a lot is said behind closed doors, but nothing to my face…you know how some Indian communities are. I just ignore them and continue with my life. At the end of the day, it’s I who pays my bills.
Q. Do you think in our lifetime India will allow Gay marriages?
Eli: Hopefully sooner than later. I think with the current public attitude evolving it’s very likely. We have to portray same-sex marriage in a positive light, and take the taboo away from it. We need to do a better job of educating the masses in India about the subject.
Neil: God I hope so! The old narrow minds of the Indian political system and Supreme Court need step down, and fresh, diversely educated minds need to take control of the Indian government. This will not just benefit homosexuals in India, but also women, the poor, and rural India.