Pride Month 2021: Gay couple raising kids in India, overcoming challenges, tasting victories
For Aditya Advani and Michael Tarr, raising two children as a gay couple in India, has been a challenging, but, a beautiful journey. The couple has been married for almost 3 decades now. Describing their life, landscape architect Advani says, “We bought a house together, designed our garden, travelled across the world, had a great circle of friends, pursued our careers and basically had a great life together.”
Inspite of having a great life and flourishing career, Advani confesses of feeling an inner sadness about not having children. “We saw all our friends having kids, my schools chums here, and most of our friend back in the states. I have always loved and wanted to have kids,” he adds.
Describing this longing, Advani goes back to his childhood, “I was always close to my mother, and she was super protective of me. I wanted to feel the love my mother had for me as a kid,” he says.
Soon after, the photographer boyfriend was faced with the question of raising kids with Advani. His response was affirmative. “If that’s what you want,” Tarr said.
Advani and Tarr got married in 1993 at Delhi, in a private ceremony, with close family and friends. Family has always been supportive of their relationship, and their decision of having children together as well. However, there were a few apprehensions that the family made him realise. Advani’s mother had concerns about the age for raising children and said, “47 is too old to raise children,” to which Advani replied, “hopefully I have another 40 years ahead of me.” His brother also mentioned that –it is a lot of work to raise children and wanted him to be sure. But, overall family was supportive of their decision.
Having decided to raise children in India as a gay couple, came with its own set of challenges, but the couple was adamant to raise their kids in India. “I wanted to raise children in India. Raising kids in a family oriented society was the main idea behind this decision,” he says.
Talking about challenges, getting kids in a school proved to be a difficult route, as opposed how we had imagined, “All my friends told us, they will give admission to your kids easily. It will set a great example. Turns out, they didn’t really care much about it. We tried in several schools. Even after clearing all the interviews, we were turned down,” Advani says.
They made sure to let the schools know about their “Special Situation,” as Advani calls it. “I wrote to many schools, informing them about our special situation, but was turned down everytime. Finally, I marched with my kids into The British School, New Delhi, they took us in without any problems,” says Advani.
After enrolling kids in school, it was important for them to have a similar experience as every other kid. To ensure the same, the couple spoke with teachers about minor changes to be mad while dealing with kids, “We politely requested the teachers to not ask questions like, ‘What does your mother and father do?’, instead encouraged them to use gender neutral terms like ‘Parents,’ it’s important to make every kid feel inclusive.”
Reinstating the same ideas at home, the couple sat down with their kids and explained to them that we are a family of two fathers and it’s okay. “We had ‘the’ talk from the beginning, we read them books about such stories, and we got them beautifully illustrated books,” adds Advani.
Their children, a son and a daughter, are nine years old now. They call Aditya ‘popsy’ or ‘mama’ and Michael ‘daddy’.