Features Wednesday, June 17, 2015 - 05:30
  It would be an understatement to say that Mumbai-based equal rights activist Harish Iyer has received interesting responses to his mother’s matrimonial ad looking for a groom.  “There was a Sheikh who wanted to offer me his villa,” Harish tells The News Minute. He politely declined the offer. “But to me, it wouldn’t matter whether he was six feet two inches tall, or whether he was a Muslim or a Christian,” he says. Harish, who was approached by a number of people of different religions, says many responses had been genuine. However, of them all one “Mr Attainable” (as Harish puts it) completely captivated the Iyer family after visiting them on Sunday evening. So who is this Mr Attainable? “I don’t want to reveal his name. It’s too early,” says Harish. Not only did the potential groom’s family visit, Mr Attainable, who hails from Chennai and works in Mumbai, also gave a small Carnatic performance thereby charming Harish’s grandmother. Even though nothing about this matrimonial process has been normal, both Harish and Mr Attainable first met at the most clichéd places for an Indian couple to meet - a temple in Nerul, Mumbai. Does that mean marriage is on the cards? He refutes recent reports on his prospective marriage with Mr Attainable saying that they were only dating and that he would not be jumping the gun now that he had met a potential partner. “Heterosexuals have done enough mistakes for us not to repeat that,” he says. He adds, “Marriages here in India for us are invalid. It does not have any legal sanction. But it’s as good as being married to a tree. And you can get married to a tree here.” While the ad published in in Mid-Day in May was hailed for its progressive nature, it was also vilified for its “Iyer” preference included by Harish’s mother, Padma Iyer. Harish says the backlash was “totally unexpected” and that people forgot the entire point of the ad – for the LGBT community to intrude into a space mostly dominated by the straight world. “There is so much depravity. People don’t get to live their life freely. They are looking for a small iota of hope – like an advertisement from a stranger,” he says.  Explaining how there was a need for a definition of meeting points for the homosexual community, he says, “There are spaces for heterosexuals, from massage parlours to finding a groom. When my ad came, people reacted differently because they thought only heterosexual interests will exist.” “I made my own space,” Harish says. Though he admits that his partner is of the “Iyer community”, he asks if avoiding a person just because he was Iyer was the right thing to do. “Do you want me to make a political statement by saying that I would not date an Iyer?” he asks. Answering his own question, he responds, “That would be casteist.” (Image courtesy: Harish Iyer fan page)

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