Delhi Coming Out – Gay Party Scene in Delhi

Delhi came out and partied this Saturday night and boy, did they party hard or what!

I was invited to attend the first ever pool side party for the boys in Delhi at the freshly done up and truly five star Ramada Plaza right in the heart of the city. The gay party scene in Delhi has been shaping up beautifully over the past year or so and this Saturday night we finally came of age. The expected attendance was about 400 people and we ended up partying through the night with about 850 of them!

Now that is some serious crowd and with everyone wanting a piece of the action, the party showed no signs of ending till almost the morning hours. The pool was never short of guys who simply wanted to beat the searing Delhi heat and those who did not get in to the water were mostly dancing away.

Besides the fun part of it, the whole event was overwhelming in an emotional way. I still get asked about whether we have a ‘gay scene’ in India and till recently all that we could talk about were a few get-togethers here and there. But no more now, Delhi has truly decided to come out and party and there is no stopping us anymore. With about half a dozen night clubs in the city having dedicated gay parties every weak and now the big five star hotels welcoming us as well; Delhi is truly on its way to becoming a gay party hotspot.

Oh, and a word about the organizer; Manish is a super star! He knows the Delhi gay community better than anyone else and his organization, BoyZone is doing stellar work in making many a dreams come true.

As for us at Out Journeys, we can’t wait to get our guests to come and become a part of this amazing scene. I know I am excited and why shouldn’t I be!

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The Advent of Gay Tourism in India

So the debate that we have been having is around the sudden spurt in the number of gay travel agencies and tour operators that seem to be emerging in India. I hear about a new kid in the market place every week, either it is through a very canned press release or a spike in marketing through Google. The keywords do not differentiate between business ethics, they re just a part of the text.

Two years back, gay tours to India were almost an unheard of concept; the draconian Article 377 did not make it easy for a gay person or a couple to come to India and feel welcomed. I can’t hold it against them too, I would not go to a place where I could be jailed for being myself!

However, Indjapink worked hard back then to launch the first gay travel service for India, Kudos to Sanjay and his team. They have worked hard and have justly got the rewards and recognition for being a path breaker. However, the time has now come for the next act in this grand theatre. India is rightly positioning itself as a promising land in global tourism, in such a scenario why should gay tourism lag behind.

So what does it take to make India a global tourist attraction for gay tourists?

Not a whole lot other than the concerted efforts of a committed group of travel industry professionals. People who understand the sensitivity of a gay traveler, who are willing to painstakingly identify great tourism experiences for a gay person touring India and who are intelligent enough to work with the best service providers in the country – hotels, airlines, guides, drivers and more.

At Out Journeys, we welcome competition; it is our desire to be a part of a community of tour operators who are genuinely working towards opening up the country for gay tourism. We’d like to partner with the iconic hotel chains such as Taj and Oberois and also with the lovely heritage and boutique hotels across Rajasthan, Kerela and everywhere else to educate them about the possibilities of becoming truly gay welcoming. We are already educating the people on the ground about how they can benefit by creating a gay friendly environment and the rewards are already showing!

In the end, what will matter will be our ability to serve our guests, give them a vacation that they will cherish for a lifetime. Make their holiday experience so ‘WOW’ that they HAVE to go back and tell all their friends, that they HAVE to log on to TripAdvisor and write about how beautiful India is, how warm its people are and how wonderfully their holiday was organized.

If we could do this, Out Journeys would have achieved its purpose.

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Out Journeys gets its name and finds its philosophy!

What is the big deal about being a travel agent? Is there a big deal about being gay?

None, you say.

But when you are in India and you mix the two together, it sure makes for an adventurous joyride. People want to know why you are doing what you are doing and then people want to know what exactly is it that you are doing.

It is fun answering these people and it is awfully lot more fun doing my job!

So here I am, a gay travel agent in India; and I have many, many confessions to make.

Just as we were planning to hit out on our own, getting all excited about launching our gay tours in India we thought we need a name that will resonate across the world. We thought we wanted a name that the gay Google user will easily find us through. So we hit upon “Pink Journeys” , we had very limited vision and frankly we thought that just as we attach “pink” in a rather proud sense to being gay in India, the world does the same too.

But then we realized that we were wrong, Pink is passé, it’s gone, over used and sounds too greedy. Our friend, Thomas Roth of Consumer Marketing Inc. pitched in and gave us our first serious education in gay travel and gay business. He told us about pride and how valuable it is to the global LGBT community and he told us about sophisticated the LGBT traveler had become. It struck a chord and hence we decided that we’d call ourselves – “Out Journeys” and we’d tell people how truly beautiful and loving place India is and we’d bring people ‘out’ in India.

Thomas shared a huge amount of market research and intelligence which not only helped us deciding on the name of our gay travel agency but also told us about how gay and lesbian travelers make travel choices, what are their preferences and what are the factors that are negotiable and non-negotiable for them.

Now this was truly enlightening. I had for a while been wondering about how I will stand apart. What is it that will truly make me a gay welcoming travel agent in India.

Armed with all the market research and a deeper understanding of the psyche of the global LGBT traveler, we sat down to brainstorm on what would become our guiding philosophy. We started listing down things which would make us a truly gay welcoming travel agency and make us stand apart in the crowd.

What came out for us through this process were three things, which I personally hold very close to my heart as well: Pride, Honor and Freedom.

Pride in who I am and how I live my life.

Honor all individuals and groups who wish to live in peace and with love.

Freedom to be myself, follow my instincts and not to be questioned about my personal space.

If you would now see the way our business is run and the way we interact with our clients, associates and friends, these three aspects stand out. They are constant. Unwavering.

This is how Out Journeys was born – helping people come out in India.