The LGBTQ community is one that hasn’t had it easy in our country. From discrimination to outright criminalization of a choice they make, the community has been ostracized from society at every point in their lives. While there have been several voices against section 377, decriminalization still seems like a far cry.
In an attempt to make this community feel like they are one among us and are welcome to join in, a group of friends have started a cafe called ‘Aamra Odhbut’ in Kolkata. The place which started off in January from a renovated house is run by Upasana, a queer activist; Nandini Moitra, also a queer activist, Raina Roy, a veteran transgender activist, Pritam Bhaumik, a writer- artist along with 17-year-old Abhimanyu. Tired of there being no change in the status of the community, this group started out their own venture to make the LGBTQ community feel at home.
Renting a place at an exorbitant rent was out of question and hence they started the cafe out of an old family home close to Jadavpur University. All the repairs were done by the group themselves and they made use of available resources. The cafe has plans lined out for events such as performances, film screenings, and showcasing queer artists, entrepreneurs and performers. Upasana says she is looking at this where the community can work when they need to get away from their home and can engage in alternative forms of art as well as relevant political and personal issues.
It is quite sad to see how the country is still not very accepting of the community and makes it difficult for them to survive a day without being judged. In the midst of all this, people like the ones behind this cafe whose name loosely translates to ‘we are weird and proud’ make our day with their initiatives.