The Day of Pride – The Celebration of our Freedom

Some dates become synonymous with life changing moments, for India’s LGBT community 2nd July is one such date. It was on this date, in 2009 that the High Court struck down the draconian Article 377 and within moments, millions of people in India realized what it felt like to be free again!

The day was celebrated with abandon this year again, the pride parades at Delhi, Mumbai and Kochi were resplendent. There was no over the top show of pomp but a resolute belief in our own identity. While the masses celebrated freedom, the recent law in New York that allows gay marriages was spoken of with passion and aspiration. That is indeed the right India’s LGBT community wants to get..and why not!

Members of the Delhi LGBT community look on as celebrations begin

Tme to smile together, for freedom!

The pride in Delhi was special because it was mostly organized by the members of The Queer Campus, a group of college students who have liberated themselves and now celebrate their true identity. The young boys and girls from the Queer Campus spoke about their experiences, joys and aspirations as the crowds cheered them on.

The young organizers of the parade – Super Stars!

That was not all, the Delhi Drum Circle came out in support of the LGBT community and thrilled the crowds with a early impromptu performance. The dancing and hugging was spontaneous and almost an emotional moment for me.

Member of the Delhi Drum Circle mix it up to the delight of the crowd!

Time for a hug!No Fear, just Pride!

The graffiti on the wall was full of promises to stand up for our rights and to strengthen the community against any odds. The media loved it too, they were around in full attendance taking pictures and sound bytes. All in all, an event worth remembering!

This was the first pride of the Out Journeys team and I am so happy to see India coming out!

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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