Marriage is among the most important events of life for everyone. But, for the LGBTQ community, this dream is hard to realise. Despite the revocation of section 377, same-sex marriage is still not legal in India, and people from the LGBTQ community still fight with society, relatives, and their families for social inclusion, love and acceptance.
Many LGBTQ couples are asserting their identity and marrying the love of their life. As gathered, people from the LGBTQ community struggle to find the relevant leads. Amidst all preparations, finding the right photographer is crucial for preserving the memories. In such a state of affairs, Sumit Kumar Verma, a 29-year-old photographer from Ghaziabad has announced to offer free wedding packages for the LGBTQ community this Pride Month.
Says Sumit, “Love is love, and it's 2022, people have embraced body positivity and gender equality. I think it's time that we stop the practice of judging people based on their sexual orientation and beliefs. It's their personal choice. It's pride month and we wanted to contribute and support the LGBTQ Community in our own way what could be better than offering free wedding packages as a helping hand in their wedding/commitment ceremonies."
Talking about why he made this announcement, he says, "I've noticed couples from LGBTQ having a hard time finding professionals who would be willing to support them due to stigmas in the society. I believe this would send a message in the event management community and I hope many will come forward to support the movement.”
Sumit believes that everyone has a right to celebrate and enjoy life the way they want. He says, “Weddings are a grand event and I believe the LGBTQ community has the right to celebrate their wedding and enjoy it the way other people do." Sumit realized that the best time to make this announcement was Pride month. His team wanted to give a message of solidarity to the LGBTQ community. He also mentioned that Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, actress, dancer, motivational speaker and LGBTQ activist is his biggest inspiration.
After making this announcement, many people and organisations have appreciated their decision in both online platforms and offline as well. The majority of his friends and relatives are supportive. Moreover, he was also invited for an online interview by RJ Divya from Radio City.
Sumit and his team also received appreciation from the LGBTQ community for this decision. But Sumit feels that the couples too feel hesitant in opening up because the society is yet to accept them.
He says, “The biggest challenge is to get such couples on board as they have a fear of being judged by the society, family, friends and don't want to accept themselves publicly, they're scared of coming out of the closet because it's still a taboo in the society."
Finally, a few days back, on June 19, 2022, a gay couple messaged Sumit on Instagram for a pre-wedding shoot as they planned to get married later this year. "I felt very happy when Sahil (27) and Subodh (29) asked me to do their pre-wedding shoot. They are planning their wedding towards the end of this year or in the starting months of 2023.”
Talking about his experience, Sumit says, "Sahil and Subodh are lovely people and I genuinely felt great and happy throughout the shoot. They both are madly in love with each other and I’m happy that I got this opportunity and contributed my part to their love story as a photographer. They thanked me for the shoot and encouraged my decision."
However, they have also faced backlash from some. Sumit also mentions that the reaction of his parents is neutral as the concept of LGBTQ is very new to them.
Sumit has been working as a photographer for the last 8 years. He runs his own production house ‘Lensflix Productions’, with his two friends Aman Rohilla and D.P Vishwakarma, who are also the co-founders. He started his photography journey in 2014 and left his Life Sciences degree to pursue photography.
He says, “I've always loved to express myself through a camera. I think it came in from my father whom I lost at an early age. Growing up, photographs and his camera became a way for me to remember. I loved street photography by Steve McCurry, Martha Cooper, William Klein, Richard Sandler, Raghu Rai, Dr O.P Sharma, and Dayanita Singh. I've been very fortunate to be mentored by the Legend himself, Dr OP Sharma under whose guidance my perspective became deeper."
Talking about Article 377, Sumit says, “I don’t think Article 377 has made a marked difference in society because same-sex marriage is still not legal in India. What about those couples who really want to tie a knot and live their life happily and legally? I think it’s high time when each and every one of us needs to stand up for the LGBTQ community and accept them. I have friends and fellow artists who are part of the community. To bring a change, we need to change and accept LGBTQ marriages just as we accept opposite-sex relationships and marriages."