South Asian LGBTQ members to march loud and proud in Toronto’s 2018 Pride Parade

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Two male members of the South Asian LGBTQ community exchange traditional flower garlands as part of a photo shoot.

Haran Vijayanathan (L) and Humza Mian (not partners) are both members of the South Asian LGBTQ community in Toronto. The two recently participated in a photo shoot directed and styled by Saira Hussain from Breath of Henna & The Sai Lens. The initiative was a joint collaboration with Must be Kismet Bridal Show & Magazine. Photo by Banga studios

Happy Pride Month

In this guest post, Mita Patel, a blogger for Must Be Kismet, a South Asian Bridal Show and Magazine, in Toronto, talks to two desi gay guys who gamely became models for a photo shoot celebrating LGBTQ members in Toronto

Guest blog post by Mita Patel

Every once in awhile a project comes along that shakes up our ideas of what a traditional wedding looks like.

Sons of Roses is a bold and inspiring project that brings to light themes of love, union, marriage, and inclusivity.

Haran Vijayanathan and Humza Mian (who are not together in real life), agreed to participate in the photoshoot as two grooms in a traditional, yet non-denominational, South Asian wedding.

The stunning shoot was directed and styled by Saira Hussain (Breath of Henna) & The Sai Lens and was a joint collaboration with Must be Kismet Bridal Show & Magazine and other artistic vendors. Abhirami Balachandran and Angel Glady, two members of the South Asian LGBTQ community, also participated in the project, portraying friends of the grooms on their wedding day. Check out the entire shoot at www.mustbekismet.com.

Two men wearing traditional Indian wedding clothes surrounded by two women wearing flowers in their hair

Models Haran Vijayanathan (sitting in the front) and Humza Mian are members of the South Asian LGBTQ community in Toronto. They participated in a photo shoot by Must Be Kismet, a desi bridal show, and magazine. Also seen in the photo are Abhirami Balachandram and Angel Glady. Photo by Banga Studios.

A desi wedding set in Toronto worthy of the divine

Traditionally in the South Asian LGBTQ community, marriage hasn’t always been an option, due to stigma or lack of family support. Thankfully this is changing, and there are plenty of examples of parents supporting their children who wish to get married and come out to the broader community.

Haran, who is the executive director of the Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention and an outspoken advocate, says that coming out was difficult but that he is grateful for all the support he received. “My mom and sisters were accepting and still are,” he says. “I am blessed to be accepted by family and all the support they give me for who I am and what I do.”

This Saturday, June, 23 Haran will be the first Sri Lankan, Tamil speaking man to be a grand marshal at Toronto’s Annual Pride Parade. He will be marching alongside his mother and sister. His hope is that others in the community who are struggling with reconciling their religious or cultural identities with coming out will feel more supported and a little less alone by seeing someone similar to them represented.

On the topic of marriage, Haran says that his preferred wedding would be a simple affair without a lot of pomp and pageantry.

“My wedding would entail some great Indian/Sri Lankan food stations in a huge outdoor field with lots of mini lights lining the perimeter on stakes with a dome of lights as well,” He said. “Lots of music, very few speeches, and people just having a great time with us and us with them. People would be dressed in simple Indian outfits and just have nature bless all of us with the stars shimmering in the sky, the slight breeze of the wind rustling the leaves in the trees and gently cooling all our guests.”

two women wearing pink floral dresses

Abhirami Balachandram and Angel Glady, members from the South Asian LGBTQ community seen here in a photo shoot – Sons of Roses. Photo by Banga Studios

Manghoe Lassie in the land of Maple trees

Humza, who identifies as queer, is a veterinary technician by day and a popular drag queen by night. His followers on social media know him as Manghoe Lassie, and his vibrant personality and love of his craft radiate through his pictures and videos.

He is partially out to his family – his sisters and cousins know and support him; his parents and aunts and uncles do not yet know. He believes that coming out is an ongoing process and not the same for everyone. Above all, individuals should feel safe and emotionally prepared in their choice to come out.

Humza envisions a wedding in his future, that may not be traditional or in line with his Islamic faith, but one that includes his friends and family.

“I would love to have a traditional wedding, however, this will likely not happen,” says Hamza. “The process of coming out for queer people of color is ongoing and for some of us, it will never be a reality. I have come to accept this and I am actually OK with it (no really, I am!) and will make the best of my wedding with my friends and chosen family.”

A gay prayer: just as powerful

Both Haran and Humza consider themselves religious and take great solace in the tenets and practices of their faith.

Haran, like many Hindus, has a mandir in his home and does pooja twice a day in honour of the deities. He appreciates the many gods and goddesses in Hinduism and the way in which this ancient religion considers people and spirit and life as fluid and ever-changing.

Humza, a practicing Muslim of Pakistani descent, enjoys attending Khutbah, a formal occasion where an Imam preaches and conveys the teachings of Islam. He says that the principles of his faith that are most important to him centre around being a good person and service to others.

Sons of Roses aims to spark more discussion about queer weddings and help to create healthy conversations at home. It is one thread in the fabric of our collective stories of union and marriage that shows how love moves us to transcend all differences.

two men seen reflecting with their eyes closed and hands folded in a namaste

Haran Vijayanathan and Humza Mian, both members of the South Asian LGBTQ community seen here as models for a photo shoot Sons of Roses. Photo by Banga Studios

Must be Kismet team involved in the photo shoot included:

Art Director, Stylist: Saira Hussain from Breath of Henna & The Sai Lens Photographer: Banga Studios Decor: Rose Events and Floral Beauty (makeup and hair team): SS Glam Studios, Daniela Suppa, and Makeup by She. Jewelry: Jaya and Co. Wardrobe Vendors: Chandan Fashion, Sahiba Fashions, Lotus Bloom Official, Live the Collective

 

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