17th May, 2013
The history of the Gaybombay Bandra Meets dates back to the last millennium. The first meets happened in town – but they were shifted to a more centralized location so people from all over the city could commute easily. So they shifted to Bandra. The venue was decided as the Bandra McDonald’s where people could collect and have informal discussions. This was in ’99.
The meetings were advertised on the yahoogroups and people started turning out for them in large numbers. At a time it was not uncommon to get about 30 people gathering at the McDonald’s terrace. But eventually, a few meetings down the line, the McDonald management decided that we couldn’t occupy the space for a long period of time – it was a fair enough request since the day we met up was a Sunday and there was always a problem with insufficient space for people to sit.
So a member of the group decided to take the gang to his aunt’s, who lived nearby. It was found that people could easily communicate in a homely atmosphere and it was a better bet. It was better in the sense, that newbies who came to the meet, uncomfortable and scared, felt safer in a space in an informal setting of someone’s home. Moreover, the family, present in the home where the meets were held, was accommodating and inviting – so people generally were put at ease.
The Bandra meets gained a reputation for having a healthy atmosphere in which parleys were welcomed and everything related to the homosexual subculture in India was discussed. For a time, they moved to another supporter’s home. There, some meets metamorphosed into special meetings, related to certain indian festivals like the Rakhi Meet. And then they shifted to yet another team member’s home for about three years, before it shifted back to the aunt’s house at Pali.
Over the years, the meets have gained their own space in the LGBT community. This September marks 14 years of having meets on the first Sunday of every month at Bandra.