While it is super easy for most people identifying themselves within the gender binary to find spaces to recreate, the list for trans or non-binary folks is scathingly limited. The obvious result of this lack of social inclusivity helps in strengthening stereotypes. This trans visibility month, we bring you top ten places that constantly attempt to create a safer ambiance for transgender people.
Godrej India Culture Lab, Mumbai: Godrej India Culture Lab in Mumbai has regularly hosted LGBTI+ events over the past many years. It is a safe and friendly space for members of the transgender community to enjoy dance and theatre performances, panel discussions, film screenings and networking events. Godrej is also supportive of the community by providing employment opportunities and campaigns on inclusiveness. You can keep a check on their events through their Facebook page.
Harkat Studios, Mumbai: Harkat is another upcoming and booming performance and co-working space nestled in one of the quiet, serene and quaint houses in Versova, Mumbai. Harkat, in the past, has hosted theatre, reading, standup, music and poetry performances on gender and sexual identities. This safe space is ideal to enjoy weekend performances, socialise with others or just simply be by yourself and work.
Amra Odbhuth Cafe, Kolkata: Located in the south area of Kolkata, near Jadavpur University, this cafe wants to give voice and hope to the queer and trans community by bringing them together. Besides being a restaurant or a cafe for young folks, the space also aims to indulge in culture by encouraging the community to take interest in queer and trans films, art, enjoy performances and readings.
The Lalit Group (Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi & Kolkata): The Lalit Group can be called as India’s largest space to empower and encourage people from different gender and sexual identities to come out and showcase their talent. From hiring people who belong to the community to hosting weekly parties, buffets, cross-dressing events, the Lalit Group is at the forefront of making the society trans and queer inclusive. The Lalit Group also gets international LGBTQ identifying artists and chefs to the country.
Humming Tree, Bangalore: The Humming Tree is a performance space and restaurant in Bangalore for musicians, artists, and performers. In 2015 and 2016, when the frenzied media was reporting about restaurants denying entry to LGBT people on New Year’s Eve, this club opened its doors. Not just that, it has hosted performances by crossdressers and trans people in the past and is a safe space to hang out for drinks, dinner or events.
Chez Jerome Q Cafe, Delhi: A quaint rooftop cafe in Lado Sarai area of New Delhi has been another favourite spot for trans and queer people in NCR region to come together and enjoy the freedom of safe public space. Started by the duo Sambhav and Chef Jerome, the cafe has been the venue for open mic events of the community. You can also hear academicians and intellectual people talking about queer politics while sipping their drinks.
QTube Cafe, Mumbai: QTube Cafe in Bandra, Mumbai, an initiative by Natural Streets Performing Arts is a free venue platform for artists. The cafe has been particularly welcoming about hosting events organized by the LGBT+ community. Situated right on the busy street of Bandra West, this cafe can be an ideal venue partner for open mics, small performances, group meetings, discussions and other social events.
Third Eye Cafe, Navi Mumbai: Third Eye Cafe is in Navi Mumbai was recently all over the news for hiring transgender people as its employees. All the employees here are transgender and have expressed their experiences against social inclusion in public in the past. However, the owner stated their desire to help the community overcome personal barriers and explore other options for professions other than the ones they are forced into.
Nukkad Teafe, Chhattisgarh: This cafe in Bhilai area has been in the news for hiring transgender workers. Customers at this cafe get a chance to interact with workers and get to know their lives and stories. The owner feels that this initiative will make transgender individuals empowered and self-sustainable. It will also create an environment for other transgender folks to use public and open spaces without any fear.
Satara Highway Dhaba: This restaurant located 200 km from Bangalore is run by a transexual identifying person, Bhavana Thimmappa. It serves families and truck drivers using the highway and is operated by workers who are transgender. This restaurant spans over twenty tables and offers Indian vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes with Kadak Chai being the most favourite item. If you are a transgender, queer, homosexual or an ally near Chitradurga district or using the highway, you must visit this Dhaba.
The Giving Tree Cafe, Manipur: From being a personal space for performances for friends and family, this cafe has transitioned into a cultural hub encouraging local artists and performers to perform for an audience. The theme of the space is cultural movement and it welcomes anyone who is a part of creating a world sans differences and stigma. Located in Imphal, this cafe has hosted several performances and exhibitions on themes related to personal freedom reflecting on the present political climate.
This list isn’t exhaustive. If you know any more places, we would be glad to add them. Similarly, if you’ve had any unsafe or uninvited experiences at any places, do write to us about it as well.
*Sources: LBB, Youth Ki Awaaz, The Times of India and Homegrown