A rainy day in London doesn’t start any better when the WhatsApp message is ‘Celebrating my birthday in Goa – who’s in?’. There began months of planning, ‘Marigold Hotel’ references, flight/hotel bookings and finally, we were off – Five go mad in Goa.
I have never had any yearning to go to Goa – it’s in my head a hippy’s hangout and somewhere already discovered. WRONG – we were about to go an adventure where I discovered a love of this Indian State which has me already planning to return.
Without a doubt, some pre-holiday research is worth doing. The beauty of long sandy beaches stretches from the most Northern tip of Goa right down to its South; each and every one of them is sure to impress the toughest of beach critics. But you do need to decide whether you want the company of bars, people and a bit of a buzz in which case Northern Goa is for you or if your preference is to wake up to a lapping shore, an early morning walk disturbed just by a few local fishermen, dogs and wandering cattle – then you will be wanting to head South.
But what is it to be Gay in Goa?…. well when living in London, a city where the law and culture are accepting of the LGBT+ community and the need to be guarded not essential, I really noticed the difference. I sensed the Goan culture required respect as I was the incomer and keeping my ‘gayness’ under the radar was indeed the right thing to do. I don’t want to give the impression it was a hardship, far from it – the people of Goa are indeed some of the most charming I have met in any corner of the world – really charming and I have no need to sing from the monkey clad rooftops about who I am. But it did give me a moment to think about my lesbian/bi sisters born in Goa. It reminds me that maybe it is not so easy, in fact aside from the possibility to being born into an economy where education or even food is not assured, so your sexuality really does become less important. I found it very humbling.
Something I want to remember, as we prepare LBWomen.org for 2018 is to keep an eye out for those who might be questioning themselves as they grow up, doubting themselves in a way only those who have gone through the ‘coming out’ process understand. It reminded me that being visible even in another country is important – and if just one young adult stumbled across the LBW platform and it makes them feel a little less crazy, a little more accepted – that would be a good job well done.
BUT back to celebrating Goa in all its glory. It is a must go to the destination but not for the gay life – the natural beauty of the place, its food, its people, the boundless history, architecture and of course those fabulous tucked away bars and restaurants for the best of sundowners, freshly and perfectly spiced curries.
- Palm Trees on Patnem – charming, everything you need in your own little hut – no frills but perfect www.thepalmtreesgoa.com
- To explore the magical Hampi – stay away from the crowds – this is ethical / ecotourism at its best www.urammaheritagehomes.com/properties
- And the best for last – there is quiet and then there is Talpona – crowded was 3 other people on the 1km long beach www.neelchand.com