Eat, Pray and Supergays in India

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Eat, Pray and Supergays in India

How many unpleasant trips to the toilet would you be willing to suffer in order to eat amazing food?

 This is one of the questions that I asked myself when we ate our way through India, and I had to start using baby wipes as toilet paper. Despite the stomach issues, I just couldn’t stop myself from eating the rich delicious food of India (just thinking about that eggplant tomato curry right now is making my mouth water). I found this to be true regarding various aspects of the country – the traffic, heat, crowds, and smells can drive you insane, but you still can’t help yourself from diving right into it all.

We learned quickly that the key to first-time travel in India is to take it slow and do about half of what you originally set out to see. From the colorful photos we took, you’ll see that we found several places that we loved and recommend. We spent two weeks in an ashram studying yoga and meditation to have our own Eat, Pray, Love experience.

After feeling spiritually grounded, we met the father of India’s gay movement, Supergay Ashok Row Kavi, who was the first public figure in India to come out as a gay man. As a former Hindu monk, Ashok told us how the Hindu religion is ambiguous about homosexuality and how his monastery actually encouraged him to go back into the world and “fight it out.” Ashok founded Humsafar Trust, India’s pioneer HIV organization for gay men, as well as India’s first LGBT Magazine, Bombay Dost. He explained to us that in contrast to the West’s individual guilt-based culture, India’s culture is a shame-based one, where many LGBT people stay in the closet for fear of bringing shame upon their families.

VIDEO: Wonder how we survived two weeks of silent meditation and yoga at an ashram? What’s life like for the first openly gay prince in the history of India? How does Lisa survive being constantly kicked out of women’s bathrooms?

Ashok introduced us to Supergays Betu and Maya who run an emergency shelter for queer women and transmen that are kicked out of their homes by their families when they come out. Betu told us how gay women have far less freedom than gay men due to gender inequalities in India.

One of the first things that any foreigner will notice when traveling India is the disproportionately low number of women out and about in the streets. Gender roles are very rigid, and a woman’s place is in the home. Needless to say, gender-bending rarely happens (in fact, its rare to even find an Indian woman with short hair), so as an androgynous woman, I kept having to deal with getting kicked out of bathrooms and other women-only spaces.

Without a doubt however, there are numerous reasons to remain hopeful about the gay movement in India. We met with Supergay Aditya Bondyopadhyay, one of the leading attorneys of the 2009 landmark Delhi case that decriminalized homosexuality. Aditya believes that the increased visibility of gay life in India’s shame-based culture can quickly lead to further rights.

Nobody provides more visibility as a gay man in India than Supergay Prince Manvendra Singh. Now having appeared on Oprah twice as well as the BBC reality television show Undercover Princes, Prince Manvendra has let out all of the secrets of royal life. In our interview with him, he spoke candidly about his family disowning him, his current dating woos, and his future hopes to adopt a son. Prince Manvendra invited us to someday return to India and stay in his palace, an offer that Oprah recently accepted. She’ll be inaugurating his retirement home for LGBT individuals this year.

We celebrated the New Years in Mumbai enjoying the best of Indian hospitality with Jenni’s former colleague. Indian people love to sing, dance, and party as much as gay men. We rang in 2012 dancing until 3am on a rooftop overlooking the Indian ocean learning Bollywood dance moves.

We’ve truly lived our ideal lives in 2011, and we’ve recently received some great press coverage for our Supergay search in the Huffington Post and a radio interview with BBC. We’re also now going to be writing weekly for the Huffington Post’s LGBT section. It’s certainly challenging to make new years resolutions when you’ve just had the best year of your life, but we have big hopes to make 2012 even more amazing!

For more on Jenni & Lisa and their amazing adventures, check out their website: outandaround.com.



Comments [11]

Grace Moon's picture

What a great Blog!

What a great Blog!

tweet tweet @gracemoon

Conlite's picture

Agree!  Though I didn't

Agree!  Though I didn't mention it before.

Marcie Bianco's picture

Third that! Can't wait for

Third that! Can't wait for more adventures!

Steph's picture

Not India!

Is it wise that in May me, gf and two of our closest friends are going to Las Vegas for 4 days?!?!  That's 20 hours of flying in a 96 hour period combined with massive jet lag and what we anticipate will be a relentless assault on all of our senses!  Ah well, you only live once! 

Robin Rigby's picture

Fair warning about Las Vegas-

Fair warning about Las Vegas- In May it may not be hotter than the surface of the sun yet but be prepared for 90's. Also, everything is bigger so if you decide to walk anywhere just know that while it looks close enough to hoof it, it probably isn't. Take a cab or the monorail. Driving is a bear on the strip cause there's so much traffic.

If you really want the risque' sort of thing that Conlite implies, you need to get off the strip. The strip is where all the mega-casinos with the big shows, the restaurants owned by famous chefs, and lots of shopping are located. When I was there for Christmas 2007 I went to two gay bars, one of them had a decent drag show, but I don't know if they're still there. 

Steph's picture

Thanks for the tips!  

Thanks for the tips! Smile

 

Robin Rigby's picture

I'll be stopping over there

I'll be stopping over there in August for the night before my big Grand Canyon trip and then the night after. I'm trying to find friends who want to party with me so I can get a ride to Vegas & then a ride home instead of leaving my car there for 8 days. It's a little difficult to convince people to go to Vegas in August though cause it'll probably be about 115 degrees during the day & 80's at night. 

Steph's picture

To be honest, after a rather

To be honest, after a rather grey winter and a rather slow start to spring, we are all HANGING for some heat!  Although 25 would suffice!! Smile

 

Conlite's picture

Yes - I'm not sure going to

Yes - I'm not sure going to Vegas has anything to do with wisdom....

Have fun!

Steph's picture

I am sure we shall! 

I am sure we shall!  Smile

Steph's picture

India is one of the places

India is one of the places that I've never had much to desire to visit despite loving the British version of Indian food!  I have so many friends who have been unbelievably poorly when visiting and for months after too!  However, after a few years of living within walking distance of a Keralan restaurant and eating the most delish food EVER and thinking about it a bit more I think me and gf will go at some point!  Watching "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" on Sunday night has sealed that decision!