A film sheds light on the lavender wedding, but what does this term mean?

Bollywood has made another attempt to popularize India’s LGBT+ community with a new film Badhaai Do. Starring Rajkummar Rao and Bhumi Pednekar, the trailer for the film reveals how a gay man and a lesbian agree to get married in a small Indian town. Since its release, the trailer has garnered promising reviews. Rajkummar, who plays a gay policeman, convinces a lesbian PT teacher, played by Bhumi, to marry so their families can get off their backs. The concept of homosexuals of the opposite sex getting married is known as “lavender marriage”.

The term dates back to pre-WWII times, 20th century Hollywood, when public figures hid their sexual preferences because it was taboo. Celebrities in early Hollywood, in an effort to have a stable career in the film industry, would appear to be straight and marry. The color lavender, at the turn of the century, was often associated with homosexuality. Hollywood, therefore, adopted the term to cover marriages arranged to maintain the facade of heterosexuality.

Arouba Kabir, a mental health counselor and wellness coach, told Indian Express that the term ‘lavender wedding’ is over a century old. “The lavender marriage is a choice that allows an individual to be themselves while protecting their personal life from public speculation,” she said.

Badhaai Do, also starring Seema Pahwa, Sheeba Chaddha, Nitesh Pandey, is out February 11.

Recently, filmmaker Harshvardhan Kulkarni clarified that the film was not inspired by the South Korean film Two Weddings and a Funeral. He also pointed out that lavender marriages are as common as runaway marriages. Harshvardhan mentioned that thousands of movies belong to this genre, so there may be other movies that people might not have heard of. “And when you see the characters, you’ll realize that it’s extremely original and the story is told organically,” the filmmaker said.

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