September 16, 2020
True love has no limits and bounds, whatsoever. Love is love, and everything is fair in love. One of the real life examples of the same are Sunil (66) and Charan (41), who met at an HIV event and are now married. Scroll down, for this cute, loving read.
The First Meet:
Sunil Gupta and his now husband, Charan Singh, met for the first time in 2009. At an HIV event conducted in Delhi. “I was diagnosed with HIV in 1995, and later became an activist. That’s why I was going,” Sunil said to The Guardian.
Meeting the love of his life at this event, was never on Sunil’s agenda for that day. Not even at the bottom of his list. However, from the moment his eyes found Charan for the first time in an elevator, he was instantly attracted to him. “I tried to get his attention by asking where the toilets were. It was a common chat-up line in London”, said Sunil. But Charan failed to get the hint. “I had no idea what the reference meant,” laughed Charan.
Sunil’s parents left the country when he was very young. “I had grown up as a gay man in Canada and London, so I had a different set of experiences and social norms,” he explained. “In 2003, I’d chosen to go back to Delhi to see what it was like to work and live there.” He found that Delhi is heavily categorised by caste and class.
Charan on the other hand, was born in India and never left. When these two met, Charan was a social worker who was living with family. They knew that he was homosexual. “But they did not really understand the concept of men living together as partners.”
Getting To Know Each Other:
Although coming from separate and different worlds, these two swapped their numbers at the event. Later, a few days post the conference Charan paid Sunil a visit, at his place. “He lived in this posh neighbourhood alone and I was so nervous,” Charan said. “He was a photographer and I knew nothing about art.”
Initially, like most couples, they began casual dating. They visited local restaurants and juice bars. “I could not afford to go to the same places as Sunil,” laughed Charan. “So we had to compromise a bit.”
Sunil said that his true attraction was towards the good nature of Charan. “He was very sexy but also very honest and good. I just found him very easy to be around.” Charan said that they were both very curious about each other’s stories of life. “He had had this completely different life as a gay man in the west, which was fascinating”, said Charan.
Furthermore, Sunil was tested positive for HIV. This never acted as a hurdle for Charan. “As a social worker, I had a lot of experience working with people who had HIV. Lots of my friends were positive, too.”
At that time, homosexual relationships in India were not treated as simple and easy. “You could never get a lease together and if I went to hospital, Charan couldn’t visit me,” said Sunil.
Their Decision To Leave India:
The pair managed to tie the knot in the year 2011, in Toronto, with the help and support of two galleries. That Sunil was working at the time with, for a project (photography project). “As a single man with no money, there was no way I’d get a visa,” said Charan. “But the gallery invited me over with Sunil, so I was able to go.”
Later, post the wedding Charan issued for a United Kingdom spouse visa. Which meant the pair could continue their life as a wedded couple in England. “When I was applying, I explained I was married and they kept asking my wife’s name. I told them about Sunil and I think they thought my English was bad,” explained Charan. “The man on the desk was in shock when he finally realised I was married to a man.”
In 2012, the pair decided to shift to London. Sunil carried on with his photography career, and Charan made the decision to explore and understand arts. He finished his MA in photography and the pair have together worked on various projects ever since. They created a potrait series of LGBTQ people from Delhi, in 2016. These were later converted into a book.
In the end, Sunil and Charan strongly believe that their shared passions and differences have succeeded in keeping them together for so long. “We challenge each other every day, and we complement and learn from each other,” said Charan. “What started as something not very promising due to our different backgrounds became so much more,” added Sunil. “I am so glad we gave it the time.”