Hi, This is Rahul Malde and this is my story.
At the age of 13, I was bullied for being different. People used to call me names at school however I never let this affect me. Then at the age of 18, I accepted myself for being different and for being gay.
My sister and I are close and she always knew I was gay however she was still the first person I came out to. Her words were. "I always knew and I am here for you and love you".
Then about 6 years ago I came out to my parents. One day my mum said "Your sister's been saying you're gay. Is this true?" and I said "Yes. I'm quite tired of lying." However, westernized she was, she is still very traditional as well, and no-one else in our family had ever come out at the point, so I think she didn't understand and was worried about what people were going to say. I expected my dad to be even more upset, but his actual reaction was "If you're happy, I'm happy for you."
Till about 4 or 5 years ago, I'd been doing a lot of dating via online apps and I got to a tough point of accepting that a long-term relationship may never work out for me. A couple of dates became friends, some weren't ready to commit and even if they said they were, our personalities didn't really connect, or there just wasn't that spark. Nothing terrible or heartbreaking happened, it just was not meant to be. This meant I had to face the reality that I might end up alone for the rest of my life.
When I was taking a break from online dating and only checked it now and then, in Nov 2017 I matched with Sushank who had a very exciting profile. We started talking for a few weeks before we met up for a first date.
Out of surprise on the 4th of July 2019, Sushank hired a private yacht to take us around New York Harbor and proposed. Now, 3 years after we matched, we're planning our wedding.
We started this thing called ‘ABCD’ dating, where we’d plan dates according to the letter we were assigned. From escape rooms to chocolate making to flamingo dancing, we’ve done it all!
In March 2020, Sushank had to go back to the USA because his visa expired in the UK, this meant we had to undertake a long-distance relationship which we were ready for. We made a plan to see each other every few months however, Covid occurred and all our plans changed. I was unable to enter the USA as Trump didn’t allow UK citizens to enter, which means that only Sushank could come to the UK.
This was very difficult for us as we did not see each other for 4 months. With a 5 hour time difference and work being extremely busy and Shanks looking for work this had a strain on our relationship. However, we had to fight through it and make it work as our love was stronger than Covid.
We call and FaceTime each other at least 3 times a day to make sure we have continuous communication and we plan how we will see each other. Currently, Sushank has had to make 2 trips to the UK to meet up. However, we have made sure that both times we experience as much as we can and enjoy each other as we know the time is short.