Cafes in Hyderabad are working towards ensuring that the Pride community enjoys food, music, privacy and love

Hanging out with Pride

author_img Shreya Veronica Published :  13th November 2021 04:12 PM   |   Published :   |  13th November 2021 04:12 PM
Terrassen Café in Film Nagar

Terrassen Café in Film Nagar

As much as we like to call ourselves allies of the Pride community, we seldom behave like we mean it. Something as simple as a meet-and-greet of the members from the community has been met with some uncomfortable stares. Given that they’re a minority and marginalised, the community, if anything, needs more spaces to meet like-minded people. This, more often than not, gets difficult for them. But there’s hope: cafes in Hyderabad are working towards changing this, as they encourage them to have a good time with food, music, privacy and love. CE talks to places that are truly making the city more LGBTQIA-friendly.

Hephzibah Smith, the owner of People’s Choice Café in Sanikpuri, says her place has been pride community-friendly since its inception. “Our place began as not just LGBTQIA+ friendly, but a place specifically for them. Straight people are welcome, but mainly, it is for the community. I am bisexual and for so many years in my life, I have been in search of places that accept my partner and me the same way a heterosexual couple is. When I failed, I decided to start one on my own.  We have been doing decently well, however, more support from an urban city like Hyderabad is expected,” Hephzibah says. The café has a lot of exciting things coming up, including a queer speed-dating event and some drag concerts.

Anvesh Alluri, the founder of Aaromale Café in Film Nagar, believes that every cafe and public space must be LGBTQIA-friendly. “There shouldn’t have to be any need for a specific space for them, that’s unfortunate that the community has to look for places like that. We are a very friendly café that doesn’t discriminate on the basis of one’s sexual orientation. Community participation and involvement is the core value that defines us as a creative space, and LGBTQIA+ events are no exception. We celebrate the Pride month every year on a grand scale. The community loves us for the fair and the equal treatment they get here. One of the challenges that we face is proper training for the staff and team members. We sensitise them about the community, and create awareness. This is because most of them are unaware and are socially as well as economically backward,” says Anvesh.

Aaromale, Hyderabad

Dhanesh Sharma, the owner and chef at Terrassen Café in Film Nagar, explains how important it is that people are treated equally.  “We didn’t think we have to call ourselves LGBTQIA+ friendly. We never would ‘not be friendly’ to any individual. We have no reason to not welcome them. We love serving people our food, and that’s the only thing we do, with no discrimination towards anybody,” he says.

Tabeer Osmani, associate partner at Heart Cup Coffee, says, “When we started about 10 years ago, we wanted a place in Hyderabad that allows people to be who they are. While we haven’t had any specific event related to the Pride community, we see no reason why we should not.”

Bhoomika Perti, social media marketing manager at Sacred Earth Café in Madhapur, believes that everyone has the right to be treated equally. She says, “The owners of the cafe have travelled far and wide, and have been exposed to various cultures and people. They believe in equality of all kinds. Even if someone from the community approaches us for a job, we do not see anything outside their credentials.”

Vaibhav Kumar Modi, a Kathak dancer and LGBTQIA+ activist, talks about the various challenges people in the community face when they step out to chill. “Hyderabad, as a city, is poised to be a global destination. For a global city, it is imperative that there is space and availability for everyone. In the last few years, I have spoken to numerous venues across the city about the importance of being LGBTQIA+ inclusive. I was met with confusion, fear, and uncertainty. Some people have asked me what is LGBTQIA, will they spoil the decorum, our regular crowd doesn’t feel comfortable, ey! However, today’s situations have improved,” he says.

Venues and spaces are more aware, Vaibhav says. “They don’t shut the doors on people. Sometimes, the community has to reveal their sexuality at times, to enter places and that can be embarrassing. There is still a larger need for sensitisation and inclusive policy-making on both ends so that one can see a better and more inclusive city. It is silly to expect someone to tell you who they sleep with (or are with) in order to give them food or beverage service.”