Nakshatra on the GB Bandra Meet


Things started on time and I was pretty excited for my comeback at Bandra meet after 2 months. Entered inside the venue and saw many familiar faces with smiles. We had around 35 attendees this evening and it’s good to see some new enthusiastic and comfortable faces. I can easily spot growing popularity of BRAND ‘Gay Bombay’. 🙂

In 2 hours of span we touched many topics like dealing with people who seek support and help, being cautious and safe while meeting new people (Some of them also shared their experiences on the same), Way of dealing with your roommate if he/she is gay or straight, etc. We talked about our lives and aspirations. A cute couple shared their dream and planning of careers and spending future together. A NRI gentleman shared the scenario of gay Australia which was exciting to hear I was amazed by hearing the fact that in Sydney they celebrate pride month in the month of February and events run for whole month continuously.

We also discussed about GB’s upcoming events like cooking meet, picnic, art meet, workshops, etc and GB completely opened the door for suggestions. Now people can bring their idea of queer event in reality, Just check the update posted on group’s wall by Deepak Kashyap. We not only centered our discussion of events around GB but we also talked about Yaariayn events, Kashish Film festival, etc.

What I have found amazing about this meet is ‘phut phut ke bhara hua talent’ among all the attendees. We had people from health field, makeup artist, singers, filmmakers, IT professionals, event managers, etc.
Samosas were tasty and I had 3 of them, I know you won’t believe it by looking at me but it’s truth. It was a sweet meet with lots of funny moments, thanks to ‘spicy’ comments of Balachandran and ‘suggestions’ by Manoj. 😀
A big thank you to all who attended this meet and turned it into a happening one and ofcourse to our lovely hosts & organizers. ♥

Thanks for reading, I sign off till next event/meet. 🙂
– Nakshatra

Savio on the GB Bandra Meet


It was not one of those times when it was crowded with people trying to sit almost anywhere an ass could fit. It was perfect. Everyone sat comfortably on chairs and some chose to sit down. Harpreet brought the meeting to order and informed us about the good news that this month, September would be filled with events celebrating GB. Gay Bombay to be exact and not Great Britain as it’s usually known.

It was that time of year when the members of the group congratulated themselves on a successful year that had gone by, their anniversary month. It had completed fourteen years this September 1, 2012. There was a party the previous night with a huge turnout and an amazing time people had there. Awesome was the word on Gay Bombay’s Facebook page. Everyone thanking Dee which was short for Deepak, the man behind the scenes making the community dance to the music and, man, has he been doing a fantastic job doing that for all these years! After Harpreet told us about more events like another picnic / overnight party at Lonavala on the 8th & 9th of September and more such events, he moved on to introducing Umang.

Umang sat there, debating for about a minute that he mustn’t be the one talking about how it has been all these years. But he finally agreed with Vikram and Harpreet insisting that it must be him who must do the honours.

As much as it took time for him to finish saying the story, it was very interesting. At least for those who were new to GB, and mind you many of us had not even been there for a year. He told us of how his Ex played the role of bringing it all together. He didn’t forget to mention how it was in the old days to connect with people without any internet or caller Id phones. It really was interesting to know that people actually wrote letters. Harpreet said, “There used to be things like pens and paper people used in those days, you know,” jokingly to a young guy.

Umang continued saying that it was really difficult for them to start. Everyone there then spoke about their first time and how they felt in approaching the members when they came with the intention of being in the meet. Umang said he used to tell the guys that he would wear a black cap and sit in McDonalds and then people would slowly add up knowing that this is who they had to meet. It made me feel like some Bond movie production. All unsaid and understood by signs. The GB team members spoke about how they had all contributed from their own pockets to arrange for a party at Mahalaxmi, their very first one, and the funny moment when Dee had given people directions to meet at a sign-post which said Mangola (the cold drink) and it was funnier when he got there and found people painting over that sign-board for a new add (Yes, they painted those days) and he kept requesting them not to do that so all those coming to the party would not get lost looking for the sign.

The inspiration for holding a party had come, they said, from another friend’s invite they had got. It seemed that he had a huge home and could accommodate all of them in the house and it was one awesome party they seemed to remember quite well. This had inspired them to hold events like this in the future. Who knew that by this time, people stood in a huge line waiting to be let inside to be with people they call “family”? Be it new years or any major reason to party, GB made an invite and also made it a grand success. I remember it was 2005 when I made it for the first time. It felt like I had found the place I would close my eyes and come to, anytime GB would call me. It had become a place full of dance, drinking, memories and wonder for so many years in my life…. and for so many others.

The trend setters of our city, Mumbai are them, I agree. Everything they did, people do now. There is no need to mention that when they do it, it’s flawless, considering the experience and reach they have gained in all these years.

They had started this with the purpose of people meeting in one place, without being looked down upon or judged or made to feel awkward. A place only family could make. To add to it, thanks to Harpreet, there came two more, very important people and by that I mean VIPs of GB. When Umang and gang held these meetings to meet people from the same sex, they experienced some trouble and some time more from the owners of the venue. They met in McDonalds and other restaurants like Gokul which they said is an old story and at times, they were asked to leave as they were a huge crowd. At one such given moment, Harpreet had called his aunt and told her how they were treated. Munni Pua, as they all call her, had simply told them to come to her home and have the meet.

They all called this a very huge change in what makes them stronger today. It was like someone had given them one allotted space just for them to come and be themselves without any judgments being passed on them. In the years to come, they held meetings every month and respected her and her sister, Guddi Pua, with respect only family members get. The love these two VIPs had for the cause and continue to shower on this group is so immense that everyone falls in love with GB, its meets and its cause instantly, the moment they meet them. They welcomed people home, strangers, they said with open arms. They truly are the VIPs of the group. No one is treated as special as the two of these ladies. And by far, it’s the least people can do. They became GB’s First Family.

So, with GB welcomed in Harpreet’s Bua’s home, things started to look stronger and brought more meaning to their lives. By then, they had met so many people and understood how gays all around the country are treated. They had come from all walks of life. Lawyers, journalists, teachers, businessmen, artists, and doctors you name them and they were a part of the growing family of GB. Some famous and some not. Thinkers of the community I might add.

If it was not for GB and its fourteen years of hard work and more that they continue to do with managing a website that people talk and share and recommend to visitors, parties that people can’t stop remembering or going to, meets where they met the love of their lives, forums where they discussed something that shook their foundation and made them a new person, movies they saw at Nationals college based on gays and lesbians, picnics and spaces they created around Mumbai so people could be accepted (and others could learn from and use), groups for specific topics created on Facebook and other major social medias, Kite-flying events, Friendship day celebration, raksha-bhandhan meets, iftaari walks, Parents meets to help parents of gay members, counseling for people who felt lost, business opportunities for people in the community, contributions in kind and cash for QAM events and so much more I am sure we do not know about and can’t think of. I am sure, without this group being involved; Mumbai would have never been the Queen city we all nick name so proudly.

Faces in the group remain for all these years and stand by it even now. I am so glad I am now a part of this group somehow… I am glad and proud of what they did without any backing from the government or contributions from the government and risk they took day in and day out.

I could not stop thinking of how wonderful this journey would have been for all these lucky members. The meetings have become a ritual for me. It’s the place where I meet people who I know will treat me with love and kindness.

All I can say is, THANK YOU GB for everything. You make me, my city, my friends and so many strangers feel lucky every day by touching their lives. I am sure, without you, life would have been completely different. With you in it, you make it safer and nicer.

What GayBombay Means to Me by Harpreet S


This was a time when the internet was not around – or maybe it was around but I had no hang of it. It was a time when we actually wrote letters and received them. It was way back when someone had broken my heart for the first time and I was trying to find some firm ground to stand on. I had my family’s support because I was out to them since the longest time – but being loved completely is not the same as being understood completely. The year was 1998.

I looked for solace in the only gay friend I knew, Dinesh, and he tried to be a comfort. But the best thing he did (which neither of us knew then) was tell me that he was having a friend come over to his home for some sort of group gathering.

This friend was called Umang. And he was involved in a group called GayBombay. A few of the group members were meeting up as a sort of commemoration for having had the first 100 members on the GB yahoogroup. Now I didn’t really understand what the internet group was all about but Dinesh assured me it wasn’t seedy. So I agreed to be there.

I met Umang first and I still remember him as this cute guy with shorts, a tee and a cap. After he introduced himself, he promptly asked us to go and get some refreshments with him for the people who would be coming. The group that came in a little later were guys – just like you or me, everyday folk with some concerns. But the driving force of this meet picked up as issues regarding the gay community were discussed. Slowly and yet very surely, a groove was formed and I found that I fit right in. I made friendships there that lasted through the years and it has been a decade and a half and I still know many of those who attended that fateful first meet of mine.

GayBombay became an extended family. I found myself feeling at home there. A true home away from home. We got to know each other. I got online in a big way. I overcame many of my apprehensions about my self-image, about my ideas – it was an inward revolution and GB was the initiator. It allowed me to grow and understand life in a more defined way. I learned through its friendships that life had so many greys and a million colours.

My own family welcomed its members and time grew more cohesive.

I fell in love again and was heart-broken again, but this time I was sustained by the mainstay that being a part of this group afforded.

I found love for the third time in one of the GB Bandra Meets. I wouldn’t call it providential. It was meant to happen, it was meant to last. Much like my association with GayBombay.

Friendships have come and gone. Some friends have remained through the years. But through these fourteen years of my journey with GB I have learnt a lot, I have become more confident, more in tune with my own sexuality and more mindful of the problems we, as a community, face. I have faced personal problems that seemed insurmountable and it is partly due to the support that GB has bestowed in the form of a firm social structure that they merely seem insurmountable and are not really so.

I owe this institution a lot. But mostly, I love knowing that I am a part of a larger picture: A forum where I can be of use to people who are now what I used to be and where we can provide a space that makes you feel comfortable and safe.

Harpreet