City's first blind lesbian married couple hope to start family
Married couple Sam Lewis and Meena Kumari are hoping to raise a family after becoming Stoke-on-Trent's first blind lesbian couple to tie the knot.
Disability and disapproval couldn't stop Stoke-on-Trent college counselling student Sam Lewis, aged 31, and Meena Kumari, aged 32, from Herbert Street, Fenton, from finding love.
The pair, who in June became the first blind couple to have a civil partnership at Hanley Register Office, tell Lisa Stocks about their hopes for a family
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See the video of Sam Lewis and Meena Kumari's happy day
When and where did you meet?
Sam: We first met in 1992. We were both at the same rehabilitation centre for the blind in Birmingham for a couple of weeks, then we lost touch. Then, in 2000, a mutual friend of ours got us back in touch.
Meena: In April 2000, a couple of weeks after my birthday. I was staying at a friend's house talking about people we knew and he said, 'I know Sam, let's go and see her'.
What was the attraction?
Sam: There was an attraction even though I was not sure at the time whether I was into women or men. Then, there was an attraction when we met up in 2000 and it just blossomed. She's bubbly and has such a sweet personality.
Meena: She's funny and we like the same music and have the same views about some things.
Sam: I proposed. I got a ring, but part of it's a blur. It was at Trentham Gardens. I put the ring on her finger and made a joke about Meena being a trapped woman.
Meena: Sam did. It was at Trentham Gardens and it was Valentine's Day. She said 'Give me your left hand', and I did and she put this ring on my finger and I said something like 'Oh no, you've trapped me now!'
What was the attraction of a civil partnership?
Sam: Partly because we love each other, but more so because some family members, from both sides, did not fully agree with us being together, and also the fact that we want children. People would say 'You're not serious', so the big attraction was to show people that we are.
Meena: It helps bring you closer together.
What was the wedding like?
Sam: The wedding was a great success. I felt sick as soon as I got up and could not eat any breakfast. As soon as I said my vows, my nerves disappeared.
Meena: It was really good. I remember one of my sisters was late for the wedding ceremony, but, apart from that, it was good. Sam has a bracelet instead of a ring. I wear a ring, it's Asian gold.
It's the first civil partnership between a same-sex blind couple at Hanley Register Office. How does that make you feel?
Sam. Proud and it's a good thing to be an inspiration to other people who might be in the same situation.
Meena: Very special. We thought it would be good to share it with other people and show that they could do it too.
When the time comes, who would carry the baby?
Sam: In an ideal world, we would both like to be considered , but Meena has got ill-health so i t would be much better for me to do it.
Meena: I've got a few health problems, so it seemed right that Sam should do it.
Given your disabilities, what's the key to good communication?
Sam: Two things really. I can sometimes tell there is a feeling in the atmosphere, if something is not right . It's sort of a sixth sense for me. Also, more than that, honesty. If I want clarification I will ask 'Is everything okay?' and Meena will say yes or no.
Meena: Sometimes it's in the voice and sometimes you just feel tension in the air .
Do you have any hobbies together?
Sam: We like to play online games on a website for the blind and going to Trentham Gardens together.
Meena: We like online games and audio and Braille books and talking about them.
What is the secret of your successful partnership?
Sam: Not going to bed on an argument and total honesty. There's nothing I feel I cannot say to Meena.
Meena: Talking and not going to sleep if you've had an argument. Talk before you go to bed and you wake up refreshed.