Salaphaty Rao recently got engaged in a traditional South Indian Engagement Ceremony to his fiancé, John McCane. We have a very special message to share with you today- here is his story:
“John and I met on Facebook through LGBT Hindu Satsang, a support group which I was running with my Godbrother, Yagnaram, about 2 years ago. We were friends for about a month but never spoke at all. Once as I was simply scrolling my timeline, I came across a post by John which sparked an interest in me and I messaged him saying, “Hare Krsna”, to which he replied, “Hare Krsna, but I am not ISKCON but interested in Sri Vaishnavism”. That excited me a lot as I am practicing Sri Vaishnavaite. We talked for hours and I also missed my photography class on that day. It was just amazing and I told my mom on the spot about him (I was already out to all my family). My mom was very much happy as both my mom and I didn’t like my previous dates, due to cultural difference. As my mom simply said that John looked genuine, polite and very family oriented, and she was right. Since then, we would skype every single day and have long conversations on ritual significance, philosophy and so on. In December 2013, we met each other in India and spent about 3 weeks travelling about 6000+ km around India, visiting various spiritual destinations which developed spiritual connection between us. We were in love but it was a 9000 miles long distance relationship. We still skyped and spent long hours talking to each other. After a year, I managed to save up to pay my ticket to visit John in USA during my summer break, in December 2014. I met his family and friends, organised a spiritual retreat for LGBT Hindus. When I came back, I was very much convinced that we were meant for each other and started planning to propose to him when I go again in June 2015. I shopped for a ring with my mom, carved our names and left back to USA the next day of last class. In USA, we organised a huge 5 day long spiritual retreat at John’s family barn and I proposed to him on the last day of the retreat when all our close friends and family surrounded us with love.
When I returned home this time, I started coming out to my grandparents, aunts, uncles, more friends and also to very traditional and religious priests and Sri Vaishnavaities, all accepted me and John without a question. Their acceptance surprised me and my parents very much. In January 2016, when John came to visit my family for the first time, we had a traditional Hindu Engagement Ceremony surrounded by love and acceptance, as per the wish and desire of my family. John and I hope that the only thing which will matter in our community is love and LGBT members and their relationship will be accepted and welcomed with big open arms. ❤ “
A very big thank you to Salaphaty Rao for sharing your inspirational story and for being a role model for LGBT people (esp. Hindu LGBT people), and congratulations to you and John McCane for the future!