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Parents launch South Asian support group after son comes out as gay, organize his Hindu gay wedding

Parents launch South Asian support group after son comes out as gay, organize his Hindu gay wedding

hindu gay wedding

Supportive South Asian mom and dad Vijay and Sushma Agarwal, who helped their son organize his Hindu gay wedding, have launched a local PFLAG chapter, telling Gay Star News they hope they can help their community to be ‘more open’.

The pair, who live in Oakville, in Ontario, Canada, have spoken openly about their initial shock when their son, Rishi, told them he was gay. But after joining the Toronto PFLAG chapter – a support group for ‘parents, families and friends of lesbians and gays’ – the pair have been busy spreading the word about acceptance, with Sushma even publishing a book called Loving My Gay Child.

And now they are launching the Peel chapter of PFLAG to help communities in local Brampton and Mississauga. Open to everyone, the Agarwals hope it will encourage people from the South Asian community in particular to seek support.

Vijay and Sushma have been living in Canada since the 1970s, but Vijay told Gay Star News that the South Asian community ‘doesn’t talk about the subject [of being gay] – they keep it hush-hush’. He added that the ‘huge stigma in our community means lots of people don’t come out’. ‘We’ve been living in Canada for 46 years,’ he went on, ‘and after the people in Toronto were so helpful to us, we wanted to give something back.’

Vijay Sushma Agarwal
The launch of the Peel PFLAG chapter, with Rishi and Daniel back left

A gay education

When Rishi came out to his parents, Vijay says he quickly decided he should approach the situation with logic. ‘I said to Rishi, “The reason your dad is being so quiet is I don’t know enough about the subject and I don’t want to make a fool of myself. I’d like to read up on the subject, and then we can talk sensibly.”’

So Vijay and Sushma did just that, heading to the library, making the journey to Toronto to meet with PFLAG and giving themselves a fast-track ‘education’. ‘In the end, I realized that even though I’d always thought I was a knowledgeable guy, I’d been totally ignorant about this subject,’ Vijay explained. ‘And I hope that before I leave this Earth, people will be saying how silly it was that they used to think being gay was unnatural. This is how humans have been made by God.’

Passage to India

Vijay adds that family and friends have all been supportive, especially when they attended Rishi’s gay Hindu wedding in 2011. The Agarwals were refused by seven Hindu priests before one agreed to perform the ceremony at an Oakville golf course. Vijay told Gay Star News: ‘Usually at a Hindu wedding, the ceremony is so long, the guests all start talking amongst themselves. But at this wedding, people were paying attention!’

He continued: ‘Afterwards, my friend’s daughters came to me and they said, “There’s not a dry eye in the audience.” Everyone was overwhelmed. No one had ever known a gay wedding with so much Hindu pomp and show!’

The pair hopes that their efforts in Peel won’t only affect the local community, but would like to influence people in India to be more accepting of their gay children, too. Sushma was especially thrilled to report that their story has been featured in The Hindustan Times.

‘If we can get the community talking about this, instead of keeping things hush-hush and suffering inside, then that’s success,’ she said.

h/t: CBC News

Peel PFLAG launch
Vijay and Sushma light a candle of hope at the Peel PFLAG launch