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Queer Made Weekend Transforms Indian Malls into Vibrant Spaces for LGBTQIA+ Community

Delhi's LGBTQIA+ community embraces the Queer Made Weekend at DLF Promenade Mall | Instagram @gaysifamily
Delhi’s LGBTQIA+ community embraces the Queer Made Weekend at DLF Promenade Mall | Instagram @gaysifamily

New Delhi: Delhi’s DLF Promenade mall witnessed a colorful transformation during the second ‘Queer Made Weekend,’ an event organized by Gaysi Family and Tinder India. The festival, which showcased queer entrepreneurs and performers, aimed to celebrate gender and sexuality vividly in one of India’s largest middle-class public spaces—the malls.

Featuring hot pink stalls, pop-up bars, and rainbow-hued photo booths, the event provided a platform for over 30 small businesses and 13 performers from the queer community. More than just a pride parade, the festival offered an opportunity for queer entrepreneurs to showcase their work and connect with a broader audience. Initially launched as an online curation of queer businesses in 2021, the organizers decided to take the event offline as the pandemic subsided.

The event exceeded expectations, with approximately 15,000 attendees joining in the festivities. Gaysi, founded in 2008, serves as a platform for queer individuals from Southeast Asia to share their stories and experiences. Queer Made Weekend is one of their collaborative initiatives with Tinder India, aimed at bringing desi queer stories to the forefront.

The festival buzzed with music, personal anecdotes, and cheers, capturing the envisioned essence of queer joy. The event showcased a wide range of products and services, from jewelry inspired by LGBTQIA+ pioneers like trans activist Marsha P. Johnson to queer-themed clothing featuring pronouns and pride flags. Home decor items such as rainbow-colored candles, kink and fetish brands offering handcuffs, leather corsets, belts, and whips, and NGOs selling posters to raise money for queer mental health—the festival showcased diverse facets of queer culture in every corner.

Photo collage showing diverse products were available at the Queer Made Weekend festival, including jewelry inspired by LGBTQIA+ pioneers, queer-themed clothing with pronouns and pride flags, as well as accessories such as jewelry and keychains.
Diverse products were available at the Queer Made Weekend festival, including jewelry inspired by LGBTQIA+ pioneers, queer-themed clothing with pronouns and pride flags, as well as accessories such as jewelry and keychains.

For queer business owners, the weekend was more than just commerce. Many of them are run by queer couples or close friends who bonded over their shared identities. Their work revolves around engagement and empathy, and the festival inspired, fostered solidarity, and provided a platform for the next generation of desi queers” for conciseness.

Queer Made Weekend aimed to enhance queer visibility in unconventional spaces and allowed the general public to engage with queer creators and the community at large. visitors, including openly queer individuals, families, and even a Buddhist monk, embraced pride flags, sarees, and corsets, transforming the venue into a vibrant celebration of inclusivity.

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However, while the festival succeeded in various aspects, there were some shortcomings that require reflection. Although the event was free to enter, affordability remained a concern as it primarily attracted people who typically visit malls, creating a social barrier. Additionally, the festival lacked accessibility for disabled individuals, lacking adequate wheelchair accessibility and seating.

Aabha Joshi, communications coordinator of queer feminist research group Nazariya, emphasized the need for self-reflection and greater intersectionality within the community. While acknowledging these areas for improvement, it is important not to overlook the positive impact the festival has had over the past two years.

Queer Made Weekend has become a safe haven for queer individuals in urban spaces, while also providing queer entrepreneurs and performers with a stepping stone into a broader market. The event signifies progress and acceptance, as expressed by Randhir Pratap Singh, owner of the kink brand Subculture, who remarked on the happiness and acceptance witnessed at the festival.

As India’s LGBTQIA+ community continues to carve out spaces for self-expression and representation, events like Queer Made Weekend play a vital role in fostering inclusivity, celebrating diversity, and driving societal change.

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Gangtokian Web Team, 27/06/2023

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