You probably already know by now that homosexuality is criminalised in India under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. However, the existence of a law hasn’t deterred the queer community in India in any way, and a vibrant gay culture exists in various Indian cities. Here are some of the best cities to be LGBT in India.
1) Mumbai – The economic capital of India and the centre of Indian movie industry Bollywood, Mumbai has one of the most vibrant queer cultures. There are regular gay meet-ups and gatherings being organised by Gay Bombay group where everything from movie screenings to cooking classes to talks on relationships are held. Apart from this, the city also has one of the largest LGBT film festival called Kashish that is held in May. It just concluded last week and Sir Ian McKellen had inaugurated it this year. The city also holds one of the largest pride marches in January and it is usually preceded by a month of pride activities.
2) Bengaluru – The Garden City of India, also called the Silicon Valley of India, is one of the friendliest cities of the country and hosts a weekly meet every Thursday at the Good As You Office where around 20-30 gay men usually meet and engage in friendly banter and discussion on various queer topics. I once took a friend of mine who was visiting from France to one of these meets. Apart from this, there is a Gay Runners And Breakfast (GRAB) group which, as the name suggests, is a runners group that runs around the famous Cubbon Park every Sunday and then meets for breakfast. Bengaluru too hosts a Film Festival in February, while pride is held in November end, and is preceded by a month of pride related events.
3) Delhi – Unlike Mumbai and Bengaluru, the capital city does not have regular official meet ups being organised by any group. But that doesn’t stop the queer community from coming together. You can find the LGBT community thronging Pallika Park at Connaught Place every Sunday evening. People come there with friends, to meet friends, to make friends. Other events that are held are usually communicated through social media or via email lists. Delhi also holds one of the largest pride parades in India and it is held around November end.
4) Kolkata – The people of the city are as sweet as the Rosogullas (a sweet dish). Sappho for Equality and Pratyay Gender Trust hold a film festival around November, while Pride March is held in December
5) Chennai – Pride in the city is held in June. The city also has a queer literature group that meets regularly.
And if you are more into parties, then all of these cities also have gay parties every weekend. Apart from these, there are other cities like Hyderabad and Pune that are making their presence felt on the queer calendar with the increasing activities being organised or held in these cities.
If you plan to visit India, or any of these cities, do explore the local LGBT scene as well.
Sukhdeep Singh is the Founding Editor of Gaylaxy magazine which is India’s largest English language LGBT magazine. He grew up in Kolkata, in a Sikh family and in a liberal atmosphere. While studying in college he launched Gaylaxy magazine in 2010, which is now also available as an App. His message to the world is: “Treat everyone equally, with love and dignity.”