That is the question on the lips of queer and questioning South Asian guys in Toronto!
Dosti is a Toronto-based social and support group for South Asian gay, bisexual, questioning and transgender men. Dosti has been around since the mid 90s and has come to mean a number of different things over the years. Dosti is a place where you can meet friends, cruise for guys and explore the community. Every month Dosti has social gatherings that take place in different venues where guys can chat it up with other like minded desi dudes and reconcile the fact they can be both Queer and Desi.
Dosti has seen a jump in numbers both online and offline consisting of guys from a variety of different backgrounds. Dosti’s organizer Shazad Hai says, “Not all guys are initially fine with the group dynamic. For a lot of these guys Dosti is their first point of contact with the gay desi world so a large collective of queer desi guys seems rather daunting to begin with.”
To remedy this initial fear from going from completely closeted to meeting another queer peer, Hai offers one on one sessions with guys. This serves as a great way for guys to open up and see if coming to a Dosti meeting is something they want to do. Most of the time, the guys are interested in the group but need some reassurance prior to attending.
Dosti meetings are laid back and usually consist of some familiar Bollywood beats in the background, discussions on coming out, workshops ranging from safe sex to sex toys, and a lot of samosas. On top of chill out socials, dosti has recently started a night at a bar called Kotha. Kotha is a night at Grasp Erotica bar, which is a bar connected to a bathhouse, advertised as a Mogul-themed brothel of sex, fun and debauchery. It was a great success with guys watching an array of south Asian drag queens doing “Mujras” from both North and South India. They also got to indulge in a number of snacks, sex positive workshops to get guys comfortable with their bodies, and themselves, and finished off the night with a desi dance party.
A special challenge that faces Dosti are reaching those guys that live in the surrounding suburban areas of Brampton and Mississauga, where there is the largest concentration of South Asian people. A large majority of these guys are married, or just so terrified to make contact due to family and community constraints. Dosti has acknowledged this and is planning on expanding into those areas and bring the support to them. The group is currently searching for a space in this region and is looking forward to representing the queer community and standing up for the reconciling of both culture and sexuality.