His partner, Ayush Thakur (25), whom Williams had met through a dating application, said while they could survive the first wave, the recent one hit them both. Williams had comorbidities, including high blood pressure, and his oxygen level was impacted.
“We were moving around the city desperately to find oxygen. We eventually admitted him to a non-Covid hospital in Rohini and had to rely on finding oxygen cylinders every day,” said Thakur.
Williams was later shifted to Noida, but his vitals continued to fluctuate.
“We were told we needed Remdesivir, but by the time we could get it, he had passed away,” said Thakur, stating he could still recall the moment his partner’s skin started to turn blue due to lack of oxygen.
“We were to get married in the US and had even asked a lawyer there to initiate the process. But before we could go to LA, the pandemic hit,” said Thakur.
A Columbia University graduate, Williams had worked with writer Daphne Merkin for several years.
“He found extremely cheap tickets from LA to Delhi and that is how he came to India. He decided to come to India once again to meet me. By this point, I knew I had to make him meet my family and they were all supportive of our relationship,” said Thakur.
In the capital, Williams began to approach producers and other influencers in popularising shows with same-sex couples.
“He was inspired by the show Will and Grace and thought more shows needed to show same sex-couples. In Delhi, he started a non-profit fund and would provide free counselling to people from the LGBTQ community. He also wrote a play on the community, which ran for a month at a café in Chhatarpur,” said Thakur, stating when they met, Article 377 was yet to be decriminalised. “We celebrated it in 2018. He wanted to stay in India and make a bigger difference.”
Shruti Kumar, an LA-based musician, who met Williams as freshmen in Columbia University, said through his writings and work, he had wanted to bring LGBTQ characters in the limelight in India.
“All of his friends here tried to motivate him while he battled Covid, but he could not come out. One of the last things he said to me was ‘I have incredible friends. I love you’,” said Kumar.