The LGBT India Buzz(16th Aug – 26th Aug 2011)

Indian Institute of Technology – Bombay (IIT-B) became the first Indian campus to recognise a support group for gays, called ‘Saathi’.On August 1st ‘Saathi‘(support group for gays) made a presentation on homosexuality as a part of the orientation.

Imran Kahn graces the cover of the country’s first registered gay magazine as the newly crowned gay icon.Imran Kahn is the first actor in the country to feature on the cover of the Gay magazine.

Why IITians need a Saathi?-Here are some of the life stories of the people involved with Saathi, the LGBT group formed at IIT Bombay, and despite their efforts to prevent others undergoing this trauma, they still face some opposition.

IGNOU  introduces Gender Studies Course.

US, Europe debt crisis could impact inbound tourism in India.The ongoing debt crisis in the US and Europe is expected to impact inbound tourism into India this season, according to hoteliers and travel companies as per a PTI report.

Tourism Minister asks Kerala to set up land bank for tourism projects.Targets would be set for states in tourism promotion and stress would be given to develop infrastructure and for ensuring hygiene and safety at tourist destinations.

Gujarat government is now looking at putting in place a policy for cruise tourism in the state in a major move that will give a boost to the many tourism initiatives taken for Gujarat as per a report in Business Standard by Lakshmi Ajay.

Out Journeys : Come Out In India

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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.

To check our website log on to www.outjourneys.com or you can mail us at info@outjourneys.com

Out Journeys – Come Out In India!

India has long enjoyed a unique, non-judgemental culture where men feel comfortable walking hand-in-hand with other men down the street, and even sharing the same bed while traveling, without raising an eyebrow. Straight men, that is. But for centuries, under antiquated morals imposed under British rule, India’s LGBT communities had remained deeply closeted. Fortunately for 17% of the world’s LGBT community, that is changing, and rapidly. Last year, the much hated British-era “Section 377” banning same-gender relations was ruled unconsitutional by the Supreme Court, and a refreshing wave of emergence, identity and community pride is sweeping across the country.

Now is the perfect time plan a trip to India; a rare opportunity to experience this historic birth and transformation among our community. And, of course, to explore the treasures that are unique to India: Her dazzling festivals, spiritual heart, fascinating craft bazaars, dynamic and living history, cultural and ethnic diversity, and spectacular natural landscapes and wildlife.

Out Journeys, an LGBT-dedicated tour operator based in New Delhi with over three years of group and independent tour design experience, is launching a global campaign to raise awareness of India as an LGBT-welcoming destination.

“We started Out Journeys not simply as a business venture. We are doing this because we want to share the dynamic, exciting LGBT-welcoming perspective of India with the world,” said Abhinav Goel, founder of Out Journeys. “The Out Journeys team prides itself in having a keen eye for unusual experiences, such as a romantic full moon evening at the Taj Mahal. Additionally, we’re partnering with LGBT events such as Pride and Film Festivals to bring unique community-based connections. We send our guests home with a lifetime of warm memories of our country and our genuinely friendly people.”

Enormous Interest Among LGBT Travelers

Recent research among 3,865 American LGBT consumers conducted by Community Marketing, Inc. (CMI) demonstrated the pent-up LGBT travel demand for visiting India. Among the findings:

  • Culture, history, temples/religion/spirituality and cuisine are the top activities and interests
  • When past LGBT visitors to India were asked if they would return, over 80% indicated, “yes.”
  • 35% of past LGBT visitors to India had been there multiple times.

“The research found that among gay men, India ranks as the #2 desired cultural/adventure destination in a select list behind Thailand, and followed by China, South Africa and Japan,” Said Tom Roth, President of CMI. “India is the #1 desired destination on this list among lesbians surveyed. Out Journeys is reaching out to welcome the global LGBT community, to meet this demand.”

Visit www.outjourneys.com