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?'.
We start this series with the story of Shreya & Rishi!
Shreya and Rishi’s love story is nothing short of a high-octane Bollywood drama. And like all good Bollywood romances, it started in Bangkok!
Shreya and Rishi were both in Bangkok attending a seven-day workshop. "When I saw Rishi from across the room, my eyes couldn’t help but take notice of his charm," recalls Shreya, who is an out trans woman. Shreya was coming off an 18-year relationship that had ended over six years ago, but was still carrying some painful memories of her first love. She had never met anyone who she thought could replace her first love, that is until she met Rishi!
"It felt different from the first minute, and it was indeed a love at first sight," claims Shreya, though Rishi has a slightly different recollection of those seven days and insists he did not reciprocate the feelings.
"I was excited about my first trip to Bangkok and simply wanted to enjoy the sights and smells of the city. Throughout the trip, I found her everywhere I went, keen to interact. I was kind of irritated," jokes Rishi, who identifies as a trans man. Shreya vehemently disputes this version. "It was actually the opposite and he was actually following me," she says in her defense.
This lovable banter between the couple would feel almost cliché, if it was not for another real cliché, that they were actually opposites who got attracted to each other. Shreya likes to talk, Rishi does not. Rishi is relaxed, Shreya not so much; yet they have found a balance in their lives and cannot live without each other.
It’s been over 15 months of them knowing each other, and they have already seen many ups and downs; probably more downs than ups, which has only made their bond stronger.
Rishi had left for his village during the pandemic but returned a few days before Shreya had to undergo a major surgery. "Rishi being there mattered a lot as all my life I have cared for others, so it felt nice that some one was there to look after me," says Shreya. Afterall, it’s always the little things that matter in love. And as for Valentine's Day plans, well... that's a secret!
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.