Jab We Met : We Consider Ourselves Married

Couple : Elen Govel & Kiran Mova, Bangalore

Where and how did you two meet?
Kiran: We met in 2002 at the famous Andy’s Lounge in Bangalore. It was this house party that used to happen every 2nd and 4th Saturday. I had gone to the party with a date, and Elen was there with his friend (That friend was planning to ask me out the same evening)

Was it love at first sight?
Elen: No. It was hate at first sight.
Kiran: I was definitely attracted to this lean quiet guy who was totally not interested in me. The image of him leaning on the wall outside the party house, playing with his mobile had stuck with me. I stood next to him for a while and it seemed very long since we didn’t talk to each other.

Elen and Kiran at Chennai Pride

Who asked out ask who first? How did it happen? Tell us!
Kiran: After that first awkward meeting, we got to know each other and became friends. I moved to the US, but we kept in touch online, we were cyber friends. At that time, I was dating his best friend. Elen remained a constant friend through all my dates and relationships. I remember always getting his opinion on things. At one point, I realized it has to be him for me, but I knew him way too well. I knew if I asked him out he would stop talking to me. It took a few more years before I popped the question. It was a pleasant surprise when he accepted. We have been married every since. Yes, we married over chat, by typing our vows.
Elen: We were very good friends at that point, so when he proposed to me, I immediately said yes
Kiran: It was also the day I participated in the California prop 8 protest in the US.

How long have you guys been together? Relationships are lot of work, aren’t they?
Elen: We have been friends for 7 years now. We have been in a relationship since 2008. Yes, relationships are lot of work and it is a continuous process.
Kiran: It feels like we have known each other forever. Personally, for me it is not a lot of work with him. It feels like I am so tuned to him or he is so tuned to me in most cases. Yes, there are instances, which take me by surprise and I learn more about him everyday. Especially when it comes to how he views his relationships with his friends, the guys he dated before etc.. We don’t always agree on our definition of flirting, for example. But we agree to disagree.

Is this the first relationship for the both of you or you guys have dated, been in relationships before?
Kiran: I have dated a lot of guys and been in three relationships before. Elen is my longest relationship so far.
Elen: I have dated a couple of guys and have been in a relationship before, but was never in love, I can actually say that for sure now.

From your experience, do you have any tips for other gay couples?
Kiran: Embrace change. There are things about each other that will change over time, sometimes things even become exactly the opposite of what you have now. Be open to your core beliefs being challenged. The perspective is not only yours, but yours and his together. Prepare to know more about yourself. I have seen myself go through feelings that I had never imagined I would go through, like jealousy, possessiveness, emotional dependency etc.
Elen: True. In my opinion, ego is the main issue in any relationship. One has to learn how to be non-egoistic.

Elen (with the rainbow hat) and Kiran (Extreme right) at Bangalore Pride

Unfortunately Gay relationships are mostly short lived, what is the secret behind your success?
Elen: Yes, it is true that many gay relationships are short lived. The sad part is that gay men themselves don’t respect gay relationships. Love, respect, trust, and being open and honest with no ego, is the key to any successful relationship.
Kiran: I wouldn’t label a relationship as success or failure. It is a joyous experience. Open communication, Expressing exactly how we feel about each other at all times, I think helps.

Are you guys out to your families? Do they know about your relationship? How did you tell them and what was their reaction?
Kiran: I have not had the conversation with my parents yet, but they seem to know and do not raise the topic.
Elen: Same here.
Kiran: My sister and all my cousins have accepted our relationship very well. Telling them was surprisingly easy. When they brought up the topic of marriage, I told them I am married to Elen. They all know Elen and like him. They are more comfortable with him than me, actually. When I tell them we are married, their reactions are very similar, “Yeah, we knew that. But are you sure? How do you plan to tell to parents?”

How do your friends, extend relatives react? Do they know?
Kiran: All my close friends and relatives know. We both get invited to parties. They seem to accept the fact that we will always be together.

Do you guys live together?
Elen: We both live in Bangalore with our families, but we are together practically all the time:)
Kiran: Yes, living together with two families under one roof is hard. We both spend most of our time together at his place or mine. We have talked about moving to the suburbs and living together at some point.

Both of you are very active in the Bangalore scene; you are very involved in activism too. Your sexuality and relationship is not a secret. Many gay couples are often worried about being discriminated by the mainstream society and remain closeted. How do you guys do it?
Elen: We are very comfortable about with our sexuality. We don’t scream from the rooftop, but when asked we don’t deny it.
Kiran: I don’t think we are doing work as much as we should. But yes, we don’t miss an opportunity when there is call to come out in the street and stand up for equal rights. We are what we are: Gay! It infuriates me to be treated as inferior with fewer rights. Also, there is a need for awareness among public that LGBT folks do exist. That is the reason we do it. I personally found the responses from my family and friends very encouraging when I came out to them. I would do the same even if was single. It helps tremendously that Elen feels the same way about being out there and standing up for our rights.

Are you guys out at work? How do your colleagues react when they come to know about sexuality and/or relationship?
Elen: Yes. I am out at work. I haven’t faced any sort of discrimination so far. My coworkers took it very casually. Yes they were a little curious and had lots of questions in the beginning.
Kiran: I have not had the chance yet to come out at work, but they know that I am not single. They just assume I have a girl friend. In my past jobs, I have been out to my coworkers and they were just fine. What does it matter if I am gay or straight as long as I am good at my job?

Have you experienced first hand homophobia?
Kiran: Yes. I have been called names and have been mugged once while returning from a date in Boston, USA.
Elen: Not very much, but I once heard some derogatory comments being made about me.

Do you guys believe in marriage? Would you ever want to get married?
Kiran: Yes. I am married to Elen.
Elen: We consider ourselves married.

Would you want to get married legally someday?
Kiran & Elen: Sure.

Do you think in our lifetime India will allow Gay marriages?
Elen: I hope so! We will try our best and fight for it and support folks who fight for equal rights
Kiran: I don’t think gay marriage is a possibility in India in our lifetime, but I might be able to live to see an union between people of the same sex. And yes I would fight for it to happen.

Kids ?
Kiran: We both love kids, but it wouldn’t be easy for kids (in India) to have two dads. We have a long way to go. I think we will just settle for our nieces and nephews.

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South Indian, Sambar lover,Subramanya Bharathi fan, Rebel, Bleeding heart liberal, Writer, Dreamer, Die-hard romantic and Queer. Twitter: @shrisadasivan

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