The attack on a gay nightclub in the US may have shaken the gay community here in Mumbai, but they won’t let it cast a pall on their plans to party through the weekend. Organisers of gay parties said they intend to continue with their plans for a bash on both Friday and Saturday night with just one change — beefed up security.
Students in Mumbai make a rangoli and light candles as tribute to the victims of the Orlando shooting. Pic/AFP
“We won’t be cowed down because of a hate crime against the LGBT community. Our motto since day one has been that we at Gay Bombay create a safe space for the community. Our party won’t stop because of some hater who didn’t like us. Though we are in a country where still Section 377 exists, we haven’t faced such hatred yet. We will have the party as scheduled on Saturday,” said Bala, one of the organisers from Gay Bombay, which was one of the first to start hosting gay parties in Mumbai in the late ’90s.
Inder Vhatwar, who is hosting a gay party on Friday, said he will be increasing security at the venue in light of Sunday’s mass shooting in Orlando
Mumbai witnesses Lesbian, Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) themed parties almost every other weekend, and security is always tight at these events. After the Orlando shooting, the organisers don’t want to take any chances and are now hiring extra bouncers. “Our security personnel prohibit any form of hanky panky, including drugs, and or crowding outside the party venue. Now, there will be extra layer of bouncers at the venue to ensure that people coming to the party are not carrying any weapons,” added Bala.
Inder Vhatwar, who owns the clothing store D’Kloset and is organising a party on Friday, echoed similar views. “I opened a clothing outlet catering to the LGBT community and I never faced any hatred. Even for our parties, the response has been good and safe. We even have people who bring their straight friends so they can see what kind of an experience it is. For our upcoming party, we are thinking of increasing the security measures. Most of our venues already have good security and also have scanning machines to check bags.”
Meanwhile, partygoers said that their heart goes out to all those who lost their lives in the Orlando shooting, but if they were to stay indoors because of the attack, it would be an act of cowardice. The community is far from cowardly; even after the Supreme Copurt upheld Section 377 and criminalised homosexuality once again, the LGBT community continued to attend parties and live their lives. There might have been fewer people at the parties after the SC ruling, but the numbers increase each time, said Vhatwar.
— Inputs by Maleeva Rebello
Sushant Digvikar, Gay activist
Just because someone is homophobic and cannot fathom the image of two men kissing and goes out and shoots people at the pub, we cannot be scared and won’t stop living life our way. We will continue to attend parties and go out and be ourselves. Gay parties are an opportunity for us to socialise and find partners.
Darshil, a member of the community
When one Malaysian Airlines aircraft went missing, it didn’t stop the airline or the aviation industry. We have to be fearless, or living with the homophobia in this country wouldn’t have been possible.
One of the partygoers, a member of the community
Why should I stop attending parties? I am going to live life the way I desire, — not according to the haters who go on a rampage killing people. I will attend the parties.
Before the revelry begins, the LGBT community will hold a candlelight vigil in remembrance of those who lost their lives in Orlando.