Queer Wedding Alert!: Hayle And Kiran

How We Met

In February I landed in Mumbai to start working in women’s rights. I’d left my entire LGBT+ support network behind in London and downloaded Tinder to try and make new friends. Within minutes I had matched with a woman who introduced me to a WhatsApp group of her close lesbian friends. A few days later, another woman, Kiran, was added to the group and straight away I noticed her sense of humour, her memes and especially the adorable comments she made. At this point, I had moved to Jodhpur for work and so I started messaging Kiran to get to know her better. Over the next 3 weeks, the messages turned into phone calls and then video calls. We were virtually dating each other and enjoying spending time together and things were going really well. We met for the first time in Mumbai on 15th March, 2018 and one date turned into spending an entire week together. Something about being together already felt like home! Two weeks later I introduced Kiran to my best friends and sibling in Goa and we have been going strong ever since! Our bond grew stronger in Goa when we started discussing our future plans and expectations from a life partner (it was supposed to be a random chat, but it ended up being quite meaningful for both of us). We realized that we both wanted to give each other a chance together and so we travelled together to see how we got along. Turns out that we only felt more comfortable and connected the longer we were together.

Shortly after Goa, my work visa to India ran out and I was going to travel through Nepal. Thankfully Kiran had flexibility in her job, so she came with me. During our holiday in Nepal (We spent nearly a month there!) Kiran decided she wanted to pursue a new course in Psychology in the UK. She applied to some universities in London and got through. Next came the complications of paperwork (IELTS, student visa etc) it was quite nerve wracking for her to complete all of these things, especially as I had returned to the UK so we were also managing a long distance relationship. Not knowing if we would both be together again was the most stressful time of our lives! Thankfully things worked out and Kiran’s visa was granted in August 2018 and she flew to the UK a week later. Throughout this stressful process, we realized how badly we wanted to be together and when Kiran finally landed in the UK, it felt like a dream!

The Engagement

We both knew that the next step was to get engaged! So we went ring shopping in November 2018 and picked each other’s rings. The proposal however happened on December 13th at Kew Gardens, London. The day started with Hayle putting up 100 photos of us together in our bedroom and putting them into the shape of the words I love you. She also printed all of our first whatsapp chats so that we could read them together and reminisce about how this had all begun. In the evening we headed to Kew Gardens where they had a beautiful Christmas lights trail and she proposed to me first near the lake where thankfully I said yes! Later to her shock I also proposed to Hayle under the light tunnel (pic attached), I had been carrying around the ring for weeks and I was so happy I also got to propose to her! Although we were amongst a massive crowd, it felt like the world had stopped and it was just the two of us, finally realizing our dreams.

The Wedding:

We decided to plan a small wedding with just our closest friends and family but before we could get into planning we had to give notice to marry at our local council office in the UK. This is a legal requirement here and the local council ask for documents to prove you are in a real relationship, there decision can take between 29-70 days and so we had to wait until they gave permission before we could plan properly. Thankfully our permission came at the end of April and we had decided to have our wedding on the 1st June to coincide with Pride month and as a protest that globally our marriage isn’t recognised in every country (including India where Kiran is from). So we had just over a month to plan the Wedding, including flying Kiran’s mum over from India. In the end the planning was easy as Kiran had already chosen our wedding Sarees and we wanted to have a low-key event. The most challenging part of planning was finding a Mhendi artist in the South West of England but thankfully everything came together in the end. We had a beautiful non-religious ceremony next to the river in Exeter, Devon. We wrote our own vows and cried throughout reading them because neither of us ever thought that our marriage would be possible (same sex marriage was only legalised in the UK in 2015 and is still illegal in India). After the ceremony we had booked a Caribbean restaurant for the Wedding lunch and managed to surprise our guests with a massive rainbow cake. It was the perfect way to celebrate our day together with our loved ones who have been a major support through our journey together. To have Kiran’s mum there to witness the ceremony was extra special because she had previously struggled to accept Kiran’s sexuality and to realise that two women can spend their lives together. It took a lot of courage for Kiran’s mum to defy the patriarchy and traditional views of her family to attend our wedding and give her blessings to us and that really meant the world to us. 

Immediately after the wedding we spent two weeks exploring the UK with our families instead of flying off for a honeymoon. We thought it was important for our parents to get to know one another and also for Kiran’s mum to feel part of the new family we were creating. We were overwhelmed by how well our parents bonded, especially considering the language barriers and cultural differences and we are glad that Kiran’s mum went back to India knowing that we are part of a family who accepts us completely. We recently applied for Kiran’s spouse visa so that we are able to be together long term in the UK, which involved a lot of documents and hours of stress. But thankfully it was granted meaning that we can now live happily with our newly adopted kittens in our new home in London.

About Hayle and Kiran:

Kiran grew up in Mumbai and Hayle grew up in a little town in the United Kingdom. On June 1st last year they got married to each other, in a small fusion wedding mixing together the best part of each other’s culture. The wedding was a private affair, attended by close family and friends from India and the UK. They have been together for over 2 years and during these 2 year they had to overcome several challenges including Kiran getting a visa, moving countries, starting new courses and jobs and making a home together! Hayle trains teachers to deliver human rights education at Amnesty International UK and is also the Programme coordinator of Glitch a charity working to overcome online abuse and create better digital citizens. Kiran recently completed her MSc in Psychology and has just secured a job with a charity working with vulnerable children and adults and helping them navigate the judicial court systems in the UK.  It hasn’t always been easy but their story has a beautiful ending.

 Hear from Hayle and Kiran about their story and . Follow their journey on their Instagram @leztravelgirls.

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Jo Krishnakumar is a trans queer researcher interested in all things sex, sexuality, gender and how different groups/people experience these wor(l)ds. Their work is informed by their constant learning/unlearning of the privileges they have due to their social location as a dominant/oppressive caste person (Nair) while also occupying space as a (mentally) disabled trans person of colour. Find them on their unfinished webspace www.waytojo.com.

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