Love in the time of a pandemic can be tough! With our queer safe spaces shuttered for most of 2020 to comply with social distancing restrictions, for many it was a difficult year to navigate.
Love can be difficult at all times, and when you do not comply with societal norms or when your love story is a bit, well... queer, it can be challenging. Queer love stories have always existed in the Indian subcontinent - immortalised in our ancient temple scupltures and mythology or in the medieval memoir of an Emperor in 'Baburnama'.
In this series, we bring you joyful stories of couples, who met, fell in love and survived some happy and tough times with each other. Love is not defined by one's gender or sexual orientation, love can also be for a friend, your chosen family or just yourself. As Mama Ru says: 'If you don't love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?'.
The second story of this series features Mumbai-based Abhishek and Tinesh.
Abhishek and Tinesh celebrated their tenth anniversary on February 5 this year. Ask them about their plan's for Valentine's Day and both say in unison: "We both are working!" They epitomise a couple who are so familiar with each other that they do not even have to look at each other for acknowledgement to check if their answers match.
That familiarity with each other's presence and the comfort that they draw from it did not come easy. They've had their struggles, they overcame it together, trusted each other, and set some rules to make it work. In a world where many long for a partner their entire lifetime, their relationship is anything but ordinary.
Like all good gay romances, their's began when they were each looking for nothing more than a hook up on a dating app. A 'ping' on the gay dating app Planet Romeo, led to a whirwind romance and within two weeks Abhishek proposed to Tinesh on his birthday. Tinesh said, 'yes'! Now they celebrate their anniversary as well as Tinesh's birthday on the same day!
The early days of their romance when both were living and working in Pimpri-Chinchwad near Pune involved a daily 5-minute date after work. "We used to meet outside an Axis Bank ATM in Pimpri," chuckles Tinesh. "The ATM is not there anymore, and I miss that spot," he adds.
Abhishek used to walk from his home in Chinchwad for 15-20 minutes to meet around the time when Tinesh returned from work. That was their life for a year. But things changed for better–some by default and some through design.
Over the past 10 years, both Tinesh and Abhishek moved jobs, moved cities to live together. "We’ve had concerns, insecurities but we always made sure we talked about it with each other," says Tinesh. Communication has been the secret ingredient to their relationship. And, yes, an after-work dinner date for Valentine's Day is on the cards to celebrate a decade of being in love!
Do you have a love story to share? Would you like to be featured in this series or write 'Queer Love Stories'? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.