GRANT #265:

Amra Odbhuth Cafe

This grantee turned an abandoned house into a cafe for Kolkata’s LGBTQ community.

It all started in somebody’s living room one night. There was good food, as you might expect, and there was poetry, as you might not expect, and what was most unexpected? The people who gathered there. Kolkata-based activist and artist, Upasana Agarwal, and other LGBTQ youth had been looking for an artistic outlet and queer-friendly community in Bengal’s not-so-queer-friendly metropolis.

That night of living room poetry reading turned out to be the beginning of a safe haven for people who needed the sweet relief of a place to be themselves.

Amra Odbhuth Cafe (Amra = we, Odbhuth = queer) was born. LGBTQ youth flocked to it, and regular poetry nights, drag nights, queer film screenings, and community workshops soon followed. While the cash-strapped group of organizers poured their sweat, rupees, and time into transforming a dilapidated, abandoned home into one that breathes creativity and celebrates diversity, the space still needs a little TLC. Awesome Without Borders is going to step in to provide a $1,000 no-strings-attached grant, adding to the awesome in the cafe’s rejuvenation and repair efforts.