The prestigious Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) is opening its doors to the LGBTI community for the first time.
The horse racing track in Mumbai will host to ‘Gulabi Mela’ (Pink Fete) as part of the month long the Queer Azaadi Mumbai Pride festival.
Youth group Yaariyan is organizing the huge fete on 27 January.
Gulabi Mela will feature stallholders from businesses, food trucks, fashion and local organizations. The fete will also have multiple live performances, book readings, dancing and workshops throughout the day.
The RWITC was eager to host Gulabi Mela because it’s trying to shake off its reputation as a ‘stodgy’ old-fashioned establishment, according to a report in Mid-day.
‘We have to be inclusive and keep pace with the times,’ said RWITC chairperson, marketing and media manager, Zinia Lawyer.
‘The image of the turf club as a stodgy, old establishment is just a stereotype. Regulars and even visitors have seen how this space has evolved over the years.’
Gulabi Mela will take place at the Turf Club Banquet and Lawns which Lawyer said ‘exudes old-world charm’.
Having a horse racing club host a LGBTI event is a sign of changing times. Especially since the law – Section 377 – that criminalized same-sex relations was struck down last year.
‘The racecourse venue is one manifestation of how society is changing,’ said Parmesh Shahani of the Godrej India Culture Labs
‘The Supreme Court’s 2018 verdict on Section 377 brought down so many walls that we are sure to see more places, [previously] fearful of hosting LGBT events welcoming a brave, new and more equal world.’
Koninika Roy the advocacy manager for Yaariyan welcomed the new venue.
‘It is always encouraging when a new space opens up for LGBT events as it is yet another step towards making the community mainstream,’ Roy said.