Rendezvous with Gay Bombay
I attended my first GB meet yesterday, rather my first gay meet ever. I was really excited by the idea of meeting other men from the community outside of the apps or the crazy Saturday parties, where the agenda is mostly unidimensional. And also, a little dubious of the whole idea- what would it be like and what do they do in such meets. I am socially very awkward and weary of any such social outings, but I decided against my better judgement to go for it and I am glad I did.
The take out– The website details out where and when the meet is, however, it would help if it also hinted a little on what these meets constitute and what could be the possible incentive for people to attend them, outside of the samosas and the rum cake- a very potent one at that BTW. The idea of a meet could be a little overwhelming for certain people, unlike a party where one can blend in with the crowd and disappear, here they will be in the spotlight, visible for all to see and judge- so some elaborations on the site or text will help.
So, there I was at the Versova metro station at 6:30, all nervous and anxious. But then I saw a familiar face there and that helped. From there we walked for 10 minutes to arrive at this really quaint housing society and to a house of one of the GB member’s aunt – is that not so cool! She has been an active supporter of the movement and has walked many a prides. Only if we could have more like her.
Departing from the topic- I was also happy to see so many pots and plants, specially a thriving peace lily- I have never had any luck with them.
It was a cosy gathering of some 10-12 members with few walk-ins later, gathered in the living room, with early birds occupying the couches and the late bloomers sitting on the window sill and the eventually on the floor. There were also snacks and tea, very kindly organised by one of the members.
The take out– We should all, those of us who can, volunteer to host these events in our homes or at least bring in some snacks- make a fancy potluck gathering out of the event. I propose some Porto Sangria for the next meet.
There was the usual introductory round and it was wonderful having people of all age groups, varied occupations from doctor to an animator to an Ad to an aspiring filmmaker, different geographical and cultural roots.
Post the introductions, the pertinent questions that was raised was around the relevance of the GB meets- what does it stand for, what is the purpose it solves, and what are the guardrails it needs to set. Post the SC ruling on section 377, there is a sense of purposelessness that has swept in. There were discussions, on whether there is a need to identify the next big thing that GB can pick up or do these meets simply take up the role of being a kind of an orientation programme for newbies, who can listen to the lived experiences of others and share their own. The latter seemed to garner more nods.
There were also discussions on the topical issues like HIV testing, PREPs and PEPs, current environment of frequent scams in the community, abuse of CAPTA (child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act) by the young and few others. There were also discussions around the different activities that GB is organising (other than the usual Saturday parties there is a fancy kite flying event happening on the 13thof this month at the Juhu beach- check out the website for details).
The take out– I left the meet with mixed feelings. I was extremely elated by the concept of such a meet and it was lovely listening to certain stories, both good and bad, scary and humorous. We talked about certain relevant and critical issues, so in that sense it was also informative while still being light and chirpy. But then it also left me a little unsatiated- it did not give me a strong enough reason to return. What would attending the next meet entail- what would we talk then, what would the discussion be. Is there a need to have a more regulated agenda, a theme for every meet? Is there a need to think of ways to make it more engaging and participatory? I do not have the answers- these are also not questions, but more of thought starters. May be the next meet could be around pondering over these.