The matrimonial ad led to a dual response, with many congratulating the mother-son duo for their “bold move”, while others criticised them for their caste preference.
“Seeking 25-40, well placed, animal loving, vegetarian groom for my son 36, 5 11’ who works with an NGO caste no bar (though Iyer preferred)”.
It’s customary for Indian parents to place matrimonial advertisements in newspapers. However, what has taken everyone by surprise is that in this case, the mother is seeking a groom for her son.
The advertisement was placed in a Mumbai-based tabloid, Midday, by Padma Iyer, mother of Mumbai-based gay rights activist Harrish Iyer, out of “genuine concern” for her gay son’s future.
But praise for Ms. Iyer’s efforts at seeking a groom for her homosexual son almost got diluted by her reference to the caste preference “Iyer.” This led to a dual response to the ad, with many congratulating the mother-son duo for their “bold move” to advertise his sexuality, but others criticis-ing them for refusing to leave out the caste preference.
Mr. Iyer said the reference to caste was not discriminatory and was done in “jest”, to sound “typical.” Those outraged by the caste reference are “missing the bigger point”, he said.
“I did not reject any caste or religion. It says ‘caste no bar.’ Open up any paper in the morning and read the matrimonial ads, you see references to gotras, fair skin and such things. It’s almost like a market. But you never see anyone protest against such ads? Why get outraged because a gay man does it?” he asked.
Even if the reference to caste was done in a serious tone, he said, it would not make his mother casteist as she only stated her preference of getting her son married with someone of a similar background but did not reject any category. “We are not angels. We have the same set of prejudices,” he said. “The IYER PREF was meant to be a tease. Though I should admit that it is typical that mothers wish their children should be married to families whose culture we know of,” Ms. Iyer posted on Facebook.
“Mothers of gay people are not saints; they can have their prejudices like most mothers and most humans would. I am not bothered about the caste or religion of his partner per se. It would be nice if he makes his choice soon, given that he has a huge list of things that he will not tolerate in his partner,” she said.
Known for his activism on the rights of the LGBT community, Mr. Iyer has featured on actor Aamir Khan’s television show Satyamev Jayate in an episode on child sexual abuse. He said he had no preferences except that the groom should be “veg” and “an animal lover.”
Mr. Iyer’s initial attempts at getting the ad published failed. While two major English dailies did not approve his application at the last moment citing “legal issues,” the third rejected it outright with a written note. This has angered him.