The Indian LGBTQ community has long been plagued by lack of facilities that make it impossible for them to lead a normal life in spite the fact that we have historical homosexual tradition.
In recent years and particularly since Section 377 has come to light, India is slowly but surely adopting a progressive attitude. Gay life is developing in the major cities where some millennials have taken up the task of creating LGBTQ recreation and entertainment scene in India.
When asked about the LGBTQ nightlife in some of the most progressive cities, the replies still vary greatly.
“Every club in Delhi is an ideal place for gay people. Delhi is very LGBTQ-friendly”, says Gaurav Arora, a gay performing artiste and counselor about LGBTQ nights in the national capital.
While Bangalore has an extensive network of recreational spots, clubs and events catering to the community, residents in Mumbai feel like the city’s LGBTQ nightlife still has a long way to go before it can be termed LGBTQ-friendly, per se.
An androgynous filmmaker from Pune, Manoj Sunanda embraces a slightly different viewpoint when it comes to the topic.
“Most places my friends and I visit tend to be LGBTQ-friendly. However, even if they aren’t so, when I’m going out I’m still the one paying my own bill, which means no one has the right to make me feel any different.”
Triggered by the absence of options for someone from the community when it came to simply having a good time, Varun Singhal set out to open a one of its kind LGBTQ yoga retreat in Assagaon, Goa.
“I was shocked to see that nowhere in India could I find any place to unwind and just sit back and have a good time as a gay man. Even the major cities like Delhi and Mumbai only have ad hoc nights and Goa might have one bar that’s usually open on a Friday night, but there is complete absence of an established venue where one can go and relax. This is disconcerting, and even more so for international travellers, who are at a complete loss for places they can have a good time at”, he says.
About what inspired yoga to be at the heart of his venture, he says, “I love Yoga, and although I’ve stayed in Australia for very long now, India is my home. It is also the birthplace of yoga and so I wanted to bring yoga and the fight for LGBTQ rights together through my resort. Goa struck me as the only place where such a concept would be accepted wholeheartedly. The fact that it is also very serene and peaceful also made it the ideal location.”
“It will be called Simply Yoga and will be a place where travellers can come, unwind and enjoy the finer things in life. I’ve acquired a 70-year old heritage property and will be transforming it into a super-luxurious resort catering mainly to the LGBTQ community, but open to heterosexual people as well.”
Through his venture that’s set for a November 2016 launch, Varun not only aims to give LGBTQ people a place to relax, but also seeks to empower them.
“I’m looking at people from the community even for staffing purposes to make the retreat a place that aims at empowerment of the community. However, if I’m not able to find someone suitable, I will make sure the staff is very respectful and accepting towards the patrons.”, he says.
The key to accepting the LGBTQ community lies in making them feel loved and cared for, and if endeavours like these are to be trusted, we might just be on the right path.