OK, how do we feel about arranged same-sex marriages? According to a fascinating new article from PRI, arranged marriages are gradually making its way into the Indian LGBT community, albeit with some bumps in the road as a tradition adjusts to modern realities.
At the forefront of this shift is the company Arranged Gay Marriage, which is about as literal a title as you could hope for. The company is apparently super-selective, only taking on 25 clients so far. And by the sound of things, it isn’t what you might think of as the arranged-marriage stereotype: parents setting up their kids from birth. Instead, it seems more like a matchmaking service. According to their website:
“We combine proven system to match individuals based on their needs and qualify the potential candidates and scan them for all kinds of back ground checks and make it easier to understand each potential partner”
Well, OK. It’s not entirely smooth sailing for queer Indian matchmaking, since India has criminalized homosexuality. Marriages, meanwhile, remain in kind of a murky legal grey area. And culturally, there are still tremendous barriers to same-sex couples being open in most of the country.
Arranged Gay Marriage is doing their best to stay ahead of the complicated laws around homosexuality both in the US, where they are based, and in India. A large section of their site is dedicated to immigration law and sponsoring a foreign spouse, so it looks like a lot of these arranged marriages will likely involve one partner moving to the United States. That certainly makes sense; moving partners to India could essentially mean closeting the very thing that brought them together.
The issue gets even more complicated when it comes to caste. There are still a lot of traditionalists who resist marriage outside of one’s class — though this certainly isn’t a phenomenon unique to India. But for many people, caste remains an important social indicator, and one that is much more explicit than in the United States where socioeconomic status is a bit more changeable.
But in general, it seems like one step towards LGBT people being treated more as equals, even if there are some aspects at which Westerners might balk. Arranged marriages may seem unusual to Americans, since being gay often means being fiercely independent with one’s choice of partners. But then again, being queer must strike a lot of Indian people as unusual. The truth is that we all might not be as different as we initially think.