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In the last few years, thanks to a booming economy, the GBLT (Gay Bisexual Lesbian Transexual) culture in Mumbai is gradually making its way above ground. Of course don't expect gay discos sporting the rainbow flag yet, but for those looking to get a taste of this culture here's the low down:
Voodoo- Saturday nights are unofficially gay nights at this discotheque in Colaba for decades. Ignore the brightly -dressed women looking for clients, the dance floor is crowded with yuppies grooving to Bollywood tracks.
Address: 2/5, Kamaal Mansion, Arthur Bunder Road, Colaba. Telephone: 022-22841959 Nearest Railway station (Churchgate, Chhatrapati Shivaji terminus)
* Gay Bombay - A gay group, GB organises parties at least once a fortnight on Saturdays. Check www.gaybombay.org for dates and venues.
* Salvation Star - Salvation Star claims they are all about ``fabulous parties,a global music scene and rocking celebrations!'' Their parties are officially free of Bollywood music too. Check out their Facebook page group for information. www.facebook.com/groups/5141912375/
* Planet Romeo: Check out the online dating site for privately organised parties. www.planetromeo.com
Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival: India's first mainstream and largest international GBLT film festival made its debut in April 2010. Organised by Solaris Pictures and Bombay Dost, the festival featured 109 films from 25 countries. The festival's next edition is scheduled for May 21-25, 2014. Check the website for details.
Sunday High: One of the oldest gay groups in the city, Bombay Dost organises film screenings at one of the Humsafar drop-in centres (one in Santa Cruz West and the other in Vakola, Santa Cruz East). For the latest Bombay Dost Sunday High events please see
the group's Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/BombayDost
or follow 'bombaydost' on twitter http://twitter.com/bombaydost
* Yaariyan: It is Mumbai's youngest LGBT support group and organises meetings, film screenings and events for its predominantly young members. Check their facebook page for more details. www.facebook.com/groups/yaariyan.hst/
* Gay Bombay organises day-long film festivals once every three months. Check its website www.gaybombay.org for details.
Community gatherings/ support groups
* Bombay Dost: See entry for 'Sunday High' under Film festivals above.
* Gay Bombay holds various events on Sundays ranging from meetings to nature trips and trekking. The details of forthcoming events are listed on their website www.gaybombay.org
Humsafar Trust has a walk-in centre in the suburbs with a HIV testing facility, counsellors and a reference library. Address: Manthan Plaza, Third Floor, Nehru Road, Vakola, Santacruz (East). Telephone: 022-2667-3800
Nearest Railway Station: Santacruz (on Western Railways and Central Railways - Harbour line). Bus stop: Vakola Pipeline.
the group's Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/HumsafarTrust
or follow 'humsafartrust' on twitter http://twitter.com/humsafartrust
*D'kloset: Located in tony Bandra, it claims to be India's first gay fashion store. It is on the same lane as Mumbai's landmar store the now shut Aazad Bazaar. With clothes from Bangkok, D'kloset claims to stock everything you need to dress you up for the next party.
Address: Villa Queenie, 16th Road, Near Mini Punjab restaurant, opposite Hawaiin Shack, Bandra (West), Mumbai 400050
Hours: Tuesdays to Sundays 12.00 pm to 9.00 pm
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. email@example.com
*Queer Ink Bookstore: India's first LGBTHQI online book store, now has an offline shop at Humsafar's CEFE office. New and pre-owned books available for sale. They will also help you sell your old books. Conditions apply - it must be LGBTHQI books!! And of course, the books must be in a condition that you yourself will buy it! Queer Ink Bookstore is open by appointment only.
Books, art and DVD/CDs on LGBTHQI issues, .....creations that are non-mainstream in thought and action. Queer Ink stocks books in several languages including English, Bangla, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu and plans on translating popular titles on to other regional languages of India.
Address:A2, Riviera, 15th Road, Santa Cruz (West), Mumbai.
* Bombay Dost: India's first and only registered gay magazine is run by the Humsafar Trust. You can order the magazine online at Queer Ink - www.queer-ink.com - or at the Bombay Dost website http://www.bombaydost.co.in.
On December 11, 2013, the Supreme Court of India struck down a 2009 Delhi High Court verdict and reriminalised homosexuality in India. Homosexuality is now a crime under the law. Though there have been hardly very few convictions under this law (section 377 of the Indian Penal Code), it has been used to blackmail and extort money from LGBT persons. Recently, there have been cases of police personnel who have been involved in running such rackets. If you are being targeted, contact your embassy or the NGOs mentioned above for help.
It is not uncommon to see men walk hand in hand in the city, some even resting their heads on the others shoulders. Never assume that they are gay - Indians are a very physical people. Holding your partner's hand on the street may not raise an eyebrow, but public displays of affection are a strict No! Indians are still conservative, and even a kiss between a man and a woman on the street is likely to be frowned upon.