Mr Gay India 2013, tells us about his favourite LGBTQIA+ haunts in India’s sunshine state, Goa. By Nolan Lewis
Homosexuality has been legal in Goa since the archaic Section 377 was taken down and Panaji’s first pride walk from the Old Secretariat building to Miramar beach was organised in 2017. But, being a hippie haven with a liberal outlook, its gay scene has been booming underground since the ’80s. Despite homosexuality being legalised in India, queer couples still feel embarrassed to hold hands in public, unlike straight honeymooners. So safe spaces like these in Goa that walk the extra mile to welcome LGBTQIA+ patrons are the call of the day.
Safe spaces for LGBTQ travellers in Goa –
Pride De Goa
The annual pride parade didn’t take place this year or the last because of the pandemic, but, like any city with burgeoning gay rights, its LGBT drop-in centres protect the interests of its queer citizens, irrespective of lockdowns. Vasco-da-Gama’s The Humsaath Trust is the oldest LGBT centre in Goa, pioneering the LGBT movement at the grass-root level.
Meanwhile, in Mapusa, the Goa Rainbow Trust is home-run at the moment at transman Chris Fernandes’ residence. Despite limitations that currently prohibit face-to-face interactions, he works round-the-clock to provide counselling, sensitisation sessions and legal assistance to distressed LGBT persons.
Goa’s Pink Parties
Pink Pill Events provides queer-inspired events that are inclusive to everyone. New Yorker Kyle Noble unites a roster of hunky go-go boys, drag queens and cool DJs for those who are into western queer culture. The Park Group of Hotels, The Patio at Pizza Delizia, Felix Goa, Hopping Frog, and Anamiva’s Moyo have all collaborated with the gay party organiser as event partners.
If your tastes are more desi, Queer Kinara Goa organises Bollywood-centric gay parties on Fridays and Saturdays at Flying Dolphin in Calangute, Sangria Goa in Anjuna, and J29 Sports Bar in Candolim. Between these two event planners, most gay men in Goa have their social calendars full on weekends.
Hungry Gays in Goa
If you’ve worked up an appetite, queer-allied Flying Dolphin hosts its LGBT-Straight Mixer Bar Night on Thursdays. The easy diner is also a venue partner for two Queer Kinara parties each month. Rudy’s Bar & Grill’s co-owner, Maanav Dev, is gay; and the Chapora-riverfront restaurant has won many accolades for their sizzling barbecues.
Mr Bartender & Crew, on the other hand, is owned by Fay Barretto who identifies as a transman and leads a team of LGBTQIA+ bartenders who cater to private gigs and luxury events in Goa. Not to be stopped by the lockdown, Barretto and his Coyote Ugly-style crew are hosting #BehindBars this Pride Month, mixology lessons, and queer cocktail recipes on their Instagram handle.
Queer Kinara’s owner, Nihal Satupute, also leases out seven residences between Assagao and Arpora on Airbnb. Most hospitality brands realise the power of pink money, and many boutique hotels like Anamiva in Anjuna, Coco Shambhala in Bardez, and Marsierra By Jaglax Homes in Siolim are all gay-friendly hotels.
The Queer Spirit
Located on the edge of Camurlim’s jungles, The SanQtuary Goa is a niche concept that conducts intimate tailored gatherings for the queer community through healing modalities, art therapy, plant medicine, and permaculture workshops.
Editor’s Note: Keeping the current situation of the pandemic in mind, T+L India recommends every reader to stay safe, and take all government-regulated precautions in case travel at this time is absolutely necessary. Please follow our stories on COVID-19 for all the latest travel guidelines.