India's first India's first LGBT pride store launched online
By: Aastha Atray Banan
What does the average Indian homosexual do when he wants to gift a special something to his lover? Simran and Sabina of Azaad Bazaar have the answer
Sabina and Simran, partners and founders of Azaad Bazaar, India's only LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) pride store, couldn't stop smiling on the morning of July 2, when the Delhi High Court
The Azaad T-shirt, an expression of freedom (Rs 399)
decriminalised Section 377 of the IPC, which sought punishment of up to 10 years for any kind of sexual intercourse against the order of nature. Their online store, which caters to "everyone gay or straight", aims to be one that tries to give the average Indian gay an "identity that he/she can flaunt with pride". "You can always buy a souvenir or a cute gift from a pride store in the US, but how does that reflect the Indianness?" asks Sabina.
The Mumbai-based entrepreneurs launched the brand in February this year, and their online shopping portal went live 10 days ago. The two say they are surprised at the response from straight customers who are interested in the merchandise. They have had straight women buying the Maa Da Ladla tees for their boyfriends and husbands. Straight men have walked in at exhibitions they've hosted in the past, inquired about the 377 ruckus and walked away with shopping bags full of goods. "It's a great way to break the ice. Straight and gay people harbour misconceptions about each other, but when we start talking, it just gets easier," says Sabina.
Probably a first in the South Asia region, the website has received hits from all over India, even from the supposedly conservative North East and the South. "Other than the metros, we've received enquiries from smaller towns, where most gays haven't come out of the closet. It also helps that the website has a clean, safe look. We don't sell sex toys. It's all about cute, funky accessories and tees that send out a message without being preachy," says Simran.
product prices range from Rs 30 to Rs 1,500. Log on to www.azaadbazaar.com to place your order.
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