Finding a love that lasts, a partner that fits and is ready to commit for life, is hard enough for anyone but for a homosexual from a culture where it’s forbidden to love someone of the same-sex, it can be even more of a challenge. That is why increasingly more people turn to match makers such as the Arranged Gay Marriage (AGM) agency run by Urvi Shah. Based on an Indian model, the agency does all the hard work for its clients, trying to match people based on their personalities, lifestyle and life views.
GayIceland spoke to three clients who have had success with the service and were happy to share their experience. However, they asked not to have their photos published, to protect both themselves and their families, as some of them live in a country where homosexuality is still illegal.
Gaurav Salve is a 41-year-old New Yorker of Indian origin who registered on 5th of January 2016. His background is slightly different as he’s not had to hide his sexual orientation and lives in a society where it’s acceptable for him to date and even marry another man. Gaurav says he turned to the Arranged Marriage agency because he felt like a failure after a string of bad relationships. “Arranged marriages are an Indian concept and when I heard about this upcoming marriage bureau, I spoke to my mom and wanted to try this site for finding a life partner.”
Were you hesitant or afraid of being ridiculed?
“I was hesitant of calling them because of my age. I thought they would not be able to find a partner for me because I was 40 years old. I was feeling like a loser thinking about registering on a website where someone else was going to choose a life partner for me.”
Had you tried any other websites before that?
“I have tried almost all the dating sites available. I found many partners there
but I found it useless because most of them were not compatible enough. There is a huge difference between dating sites and a marriage bureau.”
“I was hesitant of calling them because of my age. I was feeling like a loser thinking about registering on a website where someone else was going to choose a life partner for me.”
Were you matched with many people before you met your partner?
“I spoke to many people in the initial six months. I even met a few people in nearby states. It was nice meeting them and I was glad to get to know them as individuals.
How long did it take till you met your partner?
“I spoke to my life partner first on 24th October 2016 and met him on 5th February 2017. He is 43 years old from Canada. I feel like we are more connectable and we have many things in common. We have similar life experiences and we have the same kind of maturity and bond. I guess the arranged gay marriage bureau has surprised me with a soulmate! We got married on 8th March 2017 and we are now living in New Jersey. We have a lovely married couple’s life, we’re very satisfied together. We are planning to adopt a baby girl next January or having a surrogate child.”
Do you recommend using the agency?
“I am in love with their work and support. I have always been in constant touch with Urvi and have seen her working hard to fulfil her duty. I want to see her speaking on a TedX and for her company to receive awards!”
Dating sites don’t work for long-term relationships
Maitree Basu is a 37-year-old woman who lives in India and says she’s a member of an LGBT community that is a taboo. “I am from Kolkata, the city of joy. My childhood was lovely. I have two siblings and we lived with our parents. I was always an extrovert bubbly girl and a foodie. I have an awesome relationship with my family. Somewhere inside I always felt unfit in society because I was lesbian. I knew about it since my childhood but never dared to tell anyone. I had a relationship with someone during my undergraduate studies but she got married to a guy because she never had the guts to open up to her family. I got scared and decided to shift to another city for my masters. I did my masters in Bangalore and felt freedom to be here. I met many lesbians and most of them were closeted. I am now working in an IT company in Bangalore.”
Why did you decide to try an arranged marriage website?
“I am 37 years old and was in need of a partner. I have dated a few women through dating sites but these sites don’t work for long-term relationships. There are so many fake profiles and many men would create fake IDs of women so that they can have a sex chat and then they will approach
lesbians to have sex with them. I was pissed off and was Googling for best dating sites for lesbians in India. Somewhere I typed “gay marriages India” and came to know about this marriage bureau. I got really very excited to register myself. I called up the bureau and followed the procedure of registration.
I was worried while getting registered though because websites cannot be trusted easily. More than that, I was worried about sharing my documents with the company because I never wanted my identity to come out in public. On one side, it was my fear of exposing my sexuality and on the other side; it was the hope of happiness that I always waited for.
Finally I chose my happiness, visited the office and got myself registered in June 2016 and found my partner on 21st December 2016. For the first time, I met her in February and we are so much in love.”
How did your family react?
“Three weeks after meeting her, I went home with her and told my parents about my sexuality. Urvi provided a counsellor and she herself spoke to my parents about it. My parents were very angry and my dad even abused Urvi on a Skype call. He was just about to disown me but I guess I am lucky enough to have a mother like this who handled everything. She is a doctor and she took just a week to accept my sexuality.
We moved in together 15 weeks ago and everything is going perfect. My dad is still against my decision but my mom is OK with me if I stay in live-in relationship with Tanu. I am the youngest child and my siblings are feeling pity on my situation for no reason. My parents and I call each-other every day. They are just concerned about society, its pressure and my safety.”
“I have dated a few women through dating sites but these sites don’t work for long-term relationships … many men would create fake IDs of women … and then they will approach lesbians to have sex with them.”
Have you found your life partner then?
“We are enjoying each other’s company. It feels like I have found my soul mate and I cannot even measure my happiness. I am not going to get married because marriage is just a legal certificate our parents give for having sex. I am in a live-in relationship because all I need is a person who can understand me, a family, a strong bond, care, love and compatibility.
Would you recommend this solution?
“India has a huge gay population. I agree that most of them are closeted and they feel uncomfortable to come out, especially the men. Many of them even get married to girl and then they spoil the girl’s life. It is a struggle to live in India as gay. People make fun of us, people abuse us but no one understands what mental trauma and torture we go through every day.
I will always recommend this agency because you can rely on them. They provided us lawyers, counsellors, and more than that, the CEO of the company, Urvi Shah was always in touch. We could call her at midnight knowing that she is going to pick up the call and will help us no matter what. AGM is a platform where anyone can find a like-minded person.”
Fell in love at first sight
Purvish Ahuja, 34, is from Mumbai in India and is planning to marry his partner in September. “I was using a lot of dating sites for many years and I could only meet people who were seeking for casual sex or a relationship where they can be financially dependent on someone. One of my friends was a registered member of AGM and asked me to enrol too. As I was desperate to have a life partner and tried all other ways of doing it, I called up the CEO, understood the process and got registered on 1st February 2016.”
Purvish says he had contact with 31 people from the agency but none of them seemed to be a fit. “On 25th of May I got my partner’s profile. After liking the profile of my partner, I was introduced to him on a Skype call. We spoke for a few hours trying to understand each other. We shared our numbers and began chatting and talked for 16 days before we were sure we could be together forever because we had a lot of similar experiences. We decided to meet up and I took a flight from Pune and went to Delhi too meet him. I was supposed to stay there overnight.
It took me four hours to decide what to wear because that was our first meeting. I was excited and nervous at the same time. I wore a baby pink shirt, jeans and black blazer and headed towards the arrival gate. A gentleman standing in a black suit with a tie was holding a bouquet of roses and a welcome sign. I fell in love with him at first sight. I stayed with him for four days and knew that he was the one.”
But Purvish’s family are not supportive in his happiness. “I was never interested in women. I always had crushes on male actors and heroes. My idea was always clear but I was always in doubt because my surrounding people used to get attracted to the opposite sex. I was in 10th grade when I decided to talk about it to someone and I chose a random old guy on the streets to discuss this. When I told him what my feelings were, he asked me curiously, “Oh, so are you gay?” and this thing hit my mind. He said that there are many people who have the same disease and that I needed to consult a good doctor.
“A gentleman standing in a black suit with a tie was holding a bouquet of roses and a welcome sign. I fell in love with him at first sight. I stayed with him for four days and knew that he was the one.”
I come from a lower middle-class family where my father is a farmer and mother is a housewife. My brother studied till 8th grade and then got married. At a very young age, I left home and moved to Mumbai and started working in a garage on a highway. When I came to Mumbai I met similar people who made me understand the concept of homosexuality.
After finding the love of my life, I went back home with him after being away for 20 years and tried explaining this to my parents. They asked me not to come back ever again. My mother started crying thinking that modern society has created an issue in my life which turned my sexuality into a curse.”
Undeterred, Purvish and his 39-year-old partner are going to marry on the 21st of September, between their birthdays. “For our wedding, we do not have any special plans. We want to get married according to Hindu system in front of our neighbours and friends; we will take pheras, exchange rings and have an exclusive photo-shoot. We then have special plans for the honeymoon.”