The LGBTQIA+ community, who though have been living in India since time immemorial were, over the past few decades and centuries subject to brutal prejudices, stereotyping and denial of rights and opportunities.
After years of tireless struggle to get their identity and existence ‘legalized’ in the eyes of the state, in September 2018 the community attained landmark victory with the striking down of the ludicrous Article 377 of the IPC.
The Chief Justice of India aptly quoted the German philosopher, saying – “I am what I am, so take me as I am.” Such a liberal standpoint from him, along with the negation of Article 377 brought certain relief to the community, at least in the legal sphere.
But socially and with regard to a job opportunity, the LGBTQIA+ group still battle to gain parity with the rest of the population.
Amidst this all, an aspiring college student, Gokul Chhabra from MDI Gurgaon has come up with an initiative that would not only serve as excellent employment for the yet prejudiced community but also would normalise the society’s viewpoint of them.
Gokul was among the eight winners of the 2019 Godrej LOUD (Live Out Ur Dream), and his dream was “To open a chain of beauty salons across India, run by the LGBTQ community”.
He is a social entrepreneur and has been enthusiastically working for the community for the past 5 years. The journey of the Salons by the LGBTQ started in 2017. With a mere investment of less than 50k, VIBGYOR Beauty Salon was inaugurated in Khanpur, Saket.
The bold ‘BOLD Salon’!
Placing the foundation stone of his dream, his first Beauty Salon was inaugurated on 7th January 2020 in Janakpuri, New Delhi. The salon, named BOLD Unisex Salon in collaboration with Mitra Trust serves 1000+ community members on the pan India scale.
This salon is run by the members of the LGBTQIA+ group and shall serve as a formal, regular income for them.
He worked for various socially disadvantaged groups. And during this, he met his best friend Vishakha, a transgender man who was thrown out of his own home when he opened up about his sexual identity.
It was right then that Gokul took the resolve to work for the LGBTQIA+ community, even though he did not belong with them.
The Running Of The Salons:
As per Gokul, the salons are expected to earn around 15-20k revenue per month. Out of this revenue, half will go to the community members who give services at the salon, and the rest for the consumables and maintenances of the salon.
These salons run by the LGBTQ, are open to all. The theme is Gender Neutral, wherein any gender can avail the services for a charge. During the week, there are few days where the community members meet & greet and that is the time, the salon makes most of the money. These gatherings boost the morale of employees of the salon.
How Have The Salons Been Doing So Far?
The direct beneficiaries in a salon setup range from 3-4 community members. These members earn while giving services in their respective areas of expertise. However, there are 500+ indirect beneficiaries who get benefited through the in-house facility at their meeting place in the area. All types of services such as waxing, threading, haircut, face spa etc. are available under one roof.
The target customers are community members who meet at the NGOs in different localities. Not only do they enjoy the sense of freedom in getting themselves dressed & beautified, but also, they like that an in-house facility within their own community is secure & would eventually cost them almost half the rates charged in the market.
Gokul Chhabra’s phenomenal enterprise would go on to build several such salons run by the community all across the country. He remarkably displays how our empathy and understanding of the community can bring a positive and revolutionary change in their lives.
Gokul’s dream is to take this idea forward on a pan India scale, so that maximum LGBTQ
population can be catered to, in terms of beauty and wellness. His next plan of action would be to open two more salons within Delhi-NCR and with the help of Godrej and HIV/AIDS Alliance, take the initiative forward to other metro cities, where the most needful populace resides.
Gokul’s venture is just a start, but has lit a torch that will lead the way to a brighter, better and unprejudiced future for the community!
Image Sources: Google Images
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