What does a traditional South Asian wedding look like? Whatever your stance on marriage is, it is undeniable South Asian weddings have that magical atmosphere to them. However, they are not normally associated with the LGBTI community.
Haran Vijayanathan, 2018 Toronto Pride Grand Marshal and LGBTI activist, has defied heteronormativity posing for these South Asian wedding-inspired pictures. The other groom for the day was drag performer Humza Mian.
Furthermore, Abhirami Balachandram and Angel Glady, two members of the South Asian LGBTI community, participated in the project.
A joint collaboration with Canadian Must be Kismet Bridal Show & Magazine and other artistic vendors, the project Sons of Roses brings to light themes of love, union, and inclusivity in South Asian culture.
‘We can get married without giving up on our culture’
The project aims to show LGBTI people they can have the marriage they want without giving up on their culture.
‘Same-sex marriage in Canada became legal at the end of a hard-fought battle by activists,’ said Haran Vijayanathan.
‘Since then, we have only seen marriage represented in mainstream ways and not with the rituals of South Asian cultures.’
Moreover, Vijayanathan pointed out how crucial it is for ‘South Asian LGBTI folks to feel confident and have the choice to marry within their traditions’.
As sexual orientation is still a taboo for many people in South Asia, ‘it is also important for parents and families to know their LGBTI children can marry their partners and can do so in the ways they had imagined.’
What an LGBTI South Asian wedding should have
Vijayanathan also knows what an LGBTI South Asian wedding needs to have.
‘It should have all the elements the couple wants without society contesting it. It is their day and their choice of what and how they want their day to look and feel. That may or may not include religious aspects,’ he said.
Toronto Pride Parade is on 24 June
Vijayanathan is the director of the Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention (ASAAP). As Toronto Pride Grand Marshal, he will give a speech at the parade on 24 June.
‘I am very excited and it has given me the opportunity to have conversations around being both a part of the LGBTI family and of the Sri Lankan Tamil community. Or the general South Asian community.’