India Opens First LGBT Pride Shop
India’s first lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) pride shop has opened up in Mumbai. The flagship shop, Azaad Bazaar, sells a range of items such as mugs, T shirts, and ashtrays to encourage lesbians and gays to have pride in their identity and identify straight supporters.
T-shirts which read ‘Maa Da Ladla’ (or Mama’s Boys) and ‘Your Handcuffs or Mine?’ also line the shelves, as do leather wrist bands and neck collars with spikes and studs. These are popular among straights and gays, claims Sabina who co-founded the business under the name Jailbird, with her partner Simran in 2006.
Jailbird had sold merchandise to gay rights marches and at private parties. In February 2009, they renamed it Azaad Bazaar, but retaining the Jailbird line of T shirts. In June, they launched the website, www.azaadbazaar.com, which now gets 1,500 hits a month.
Sabina refuses to reveal their full names, but says they are both “women in their early 30s, who are entrepreneurs who recognised a gap in the market.” She estimates there are up to 20 million middle class members of the LGBT community in India.
Homosexuality among consenting adults was made legal in July 2009 when it was decriminalised by the High Court of Delhi. The case is now in the Supreme Court, which is why the shop still stock mugs saying Ban 377. The shop does not sell sex toys or kinky products.