With Mumbai’s Pride scheduled for January 28, 2017, and almost a month and a half to go for its preparation, we caught up with Harish Iyer, a vocal equal rights activist based of Mumbai. He told us about the thriving LGBT communities and groups in the city, how one can join them and be a part of the burgeoning colourful safe space of Mumbai.

Gaysi

Photo source: Gaysi

Photo source: Gaysi

Gaysi Family is a website that caters to the LGBT community from the South Asian subcontinent. Their motto is to engage with the desi LGBT community in as many ways as possible. Their online forum and space, now caters to desis across the world, providing them up with content, like Gaysi Zines {print magazine bringing and publishing stories of the gay community}, to The Dirty Talk – an open mic forum for and by the queer community.

On occasion, they also hold Dirty Talk sessions in Mumbai in popular joints.

#LBBTip: They have a rather queer New Year’s eve party for lesbian bisexual and transgendered women (and their male friends), for which you find details here.

Contact them at gaysifamily@gmail.com

QueerAdda

Photo source: Queer Adda

Photo source: Queer Adda

This is a Mumbai-based group that is part of the bigger Queer Azaadi group, and organises activities like food walk during Ramzaan, The Dirty Talk sessions, The taboo talks and more interesting events for the queer community.

#LBBTip: Queer Adda is organising the Amazing Q Hunt {something like a treasure hunt with a queer twist} as a part of the Pride month preceding the pride on 28 Jan 2017. Please write to them to know more. To know more, drop an email to queer.adda@gmail.com

Follow them on Facebook here.

Yaariyan

Photo source: Hamsufar Trust

Photo source: Humsafar Trust

Yaariyan is the youth initiative of the Humsafar Trust – for encouraging and supporting young LGBT voices to come forward and get involved with everything that’s current and new. From time to time they organise meet ups, film screenings to eating out in groups, discussions and what not.

In fact, they regularly organise activities {in the past they’ve hosted self-defence classes as well} for the out and proud – but also offer a safe space for anyone who wants to come in for counselling and acceptance meetings. Iyer tells us every 15 August, there’s an annual meet that’s organised called the ‘acceptance meet’.

#LBBTip: Yaariyan has the credit of organising the first ever queer themed flashmob in the country.  They practice every Sunday at the Humsafar Trust and are due to perform in January. Do join them and be a part of history. Keep yourself updated by writing to Yaariyan at yaariyan.hst@gmail.com

Follow the Humsafar Trust here.

Queer Azaadi Mumbai

Photo source: Queer Azadi

Photo source: Queer Azaadi

Queer Azaadi Mumbai {QAM} is the group that organise the rather colurful Queer Azaadi Mumbai Pride parade annually. The members of the QAM meet up and prepare for the D-Day, in this case for the upcoming 2017 Pride Parade to be held on 28 January. They organise flash mobs, film screenings, drag shows, street performances, carnival – in the lead up to the event. Iyer tells us anyone is welcome to volunteer with them by contacting them at qam.editorial@gmail.com.

Follow them here, and on Facebook here.

Gay Bombay

Photo source: Gyrostat via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Photo source: Gyrostat via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Gay Bombay in an online community that offers, support, counselling and even organises offline parties around the city for the gay community. You can read more here.

Follow them here.

Lesbians, Bisexual Women and Transpersons, TISS

Photo source: Benson Kua via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Photo source: Benson Kua via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0)

LABIA, which formerly was known as Stree Sangam, is a Mumbai-based voluntary collective of lesbian and bisexual women and transpersons, with their focus on delving deep into the queer and feminist activism by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences {TISS}.

Their collective aim is to discuss the rights of the women and queer community – not just restricted to the national issues but international as well. They network with like-minded people and organise meet up groups for the same.

Contact them at labia.collective@gmail.com.

Umang

Photo source: Vinayak Das via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Photo source: Vinayak Das via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Umang is an initiative by the Humsafar Trust for the Lesbians and Transgender women {LBT}. According to Iyer, the LBT women often have it worse. The kind of societal construct that is created for a woman in general, is especially hard to break through, and if you’re a lesbian, bisexual or even a transgender woman in India – he thinks it gets tougher – as they tend to go through double the discrimination. To offer wholesome support and encouragement to the LBT women, Umang was set up. They have a helpline that one can call on anytime, and reach out to.

You could visit their FB Page here or write to them at umanglgbt@gmail.com.

Queer and Political

Photo source: Nahid Sultan via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0)

Photo source: Nahid Sultan via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0)

Started off as an initiative by ex Humsafarite, activist Pallav Patankar, this group aims at creating political discussions in the queer space. Harish informed us that there is no one party that queer people support, instead he says, “our political system is as diverse as us”.

You could visit the FB page of Queer and Political here

#LBBTip: A discussion is scheduled in January. Write to them through the facebook page quickly and secure yourself a spot at the event i.e. if politics interests you.

Q-Graphy

Photo source:

Photo source: Q-Graphy

A group of queer people and their friends who love photography. This group helps cover queer related events in the city and also regularly organise events like photowalks, competitions and discussions on photography. Especially, if you are photography enthusiast and queer, you could visit their page here  or write to qgraphygroup@gmail.com.

Anything Else?

If you’re out, then you probably would be aware of these thriving groups in the first place. If you’re not, Iyer says anyone can get in touch with him at harish.iyer@hotmail.com  – he has offered to guide you to groups, communities and more. If there’s any crisis, the LGBT community rather springs into action quickly, and even offer counselling sessions, speaking to the parents of the LGBT people.

Besides these communities that one can join as a member of the LGBT community, or a friend/family member – Iyer is quite active in the scene in as well. In fact, according to him – Pradeep Divgikar {Sushant Divgikar’s Father}, Aruna Desai {Abhishek Desai’s mother} and his mother, Padma Iyer amongst many others are always ready to help other parents deal with their son/daughter/transchild’s sexuality or gender.

#LBBTip: There’s a rather thriving parents community in Mumbai of the LGBT people – who are willing to go out of their way to offer their own support. You could also write to the parent : Padma Iyer at iyerpadmav@gmail.com

With great inputs, anecdotes and support from Harish Iyer.  

Featured photo source: Humsafar Trust