Keshav Suri, who has been an active champion of LGBTQ+ rights for sometime, is an heir of a well-known hospitality chain in India. The man is ready to take on the world for the love of his life.
Hotelier Keshav Suri, 33, who returned to India from Paris recently after marrying his decade-long partner, Cyril Feuillebois, said that he wished for a big, fat Indian wedding but celebrations were not possible because the law of the land didn’t favour such a do. He has been a frontrunner in seeking decriminalisation of same-sex relationships and providing support for his LGBTQ+ staff and the larger community through various policies at the Lalit Hotels, of which he is the scion.
In April 2018, he also challenged Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), a British era law that prohibited “unnatural sex” and is still followed. The appeal was bunched together with those of other celebrities and has been brought to a Constitution Bench.
But for all his status and powers of argument, all Suri could do was announce his big moment on social media. “Ten years of being miserable together, I loved every second of it. Lead the way for the next 10 years babe, am sure it will be torture but I am a sucker for punishment,” he wrote while addressing his long-time partner, who runs a skincare brand in India.
Fresh off the boat from conjugal bliss, all he could do was spend an evening at the Lalit in New Delhi furthering his campaign towards raising awareness about the community. He spoke about the hardships he faced while studying at an all-boys Catholic school, where he was once stopped from wearing a saree while portraying the role of a woman. Later, he pretended to be heterosexual while studying at the University of Warwick, fearing persecution. Through his story and those of others, who have faced acid attacks for transitioning, he wanted to point out the emotional and physical trauma the members of the LGBTQ+ community faces due to intolerance.
The hotelier also spoke of the guilt he faced when his father, Lalit Suri, died of heart attack. For the longest time, he believed that he was the cause of his death since he had “come out” before his family. “Even when I say husband, it’s difficult since I am forcing people to face this fact slowly but I am not going to stop because no law can define the legality of my relationship with my husband. I’m lucky that my husband is French and in his country both of us are considered legal. I will not move there because I want to be here and make sure that people like me can get the freedom,” said Keshav.
Apart from being public about his sexual orientation, he has also teamed up with an insurance company to benefit his LGBTQ+ staff, their partners and children. Kitty Su, the hip bar , is another LGBTQ+ friendly space at the hotel in New Delhi where drag queens’ performances and parties for the community are held without the fear of persecution.
Lalit has been at the forefront of initiatives for the LGBT community. It opened CU Next Thursday, the country’s first inclusive night for the LGBTQ+ community. It has popularised drag shows in India. RuPaul’s drag race winners like Violet Chachki and Alaska Thunderfuck 5000; and Derrick Barry performed at Kitty Su. This also created a performance platform for local drag queens. Indian drag queens like Rani Ko-HE-Nur, Maya-the Drag Queen, Kushboo and Betta Naan Stop now regularly at Kitty Su and their talent is being nurtured.
Lalit has an Equality & Diversity Policy” and Prevention of Sexual Harassment and has not only hired people from the community but also held sensitization training sessions on LGBTQ+ community.
The mediclaim policy offered by the Group also includes same Sex Couples, Single Parents and Children Born through Surrogacy. The Group negotiated aggressively with the insurance company to include the LGBTQ+ members and their partners under its mediclaim policy.
Writer: Divya Giri