Former Mr Gay Handsome Nepal Bishwaraj Adhikari opened INCLUSIVE GALAXY, a cafe restaurant spot in Lazimpat in February. The well known gay figure and LGBTIQ activist has been relentlessly working for the rights of the queer community in Nepal. With many excluded by families and local communities, LGBTIQ’s often face a difficult time navigating through society. This is one of the many reasons why spaces created by queer people like Adhikari is a need for the community.
The current lockdown situation due to Covid-19 continues to affect peoples livelihoods in different ways. A recent report by NayaPatrika Daily focused on the heightened challenges that the trans and queer community in Lazimpat are facing. Challenges include transwomen unable to get food rations as they do not have their citizenship cards and some facing financial difficulties to pay rent to greedy landlords. Adhikari adds that Inclusive Galaxy has become a common garden at this time with as it supports over two dozen LGBTIQs with food support voluntarily. He does not know what the long-term situation will be as he’s quickly running low on food stock as well as finances to keep the service going.
I had spoken to Bishwaraj Adhikari before Covid19 swept across the world on his thoughts and views on the growing Nepalese queer community.
LEX: What can LGBTIQ’s continue doing to promote education and awareness about
ourselves in wider society?
BHISHWARAJ: Firstly, we have to accept ourselves and be self-aware. I believe great leadership starts with self-awareness. Secondly, we have to go university or continue pursuing education and lift ourselves up to make ourselves strong to fight against the system where needed. Because an educated person lives a better life than others in this society. A person with knowledge enjoys better health than others. If we go to university then higher education institutions would also be aware of LGBTIQ issues and our potential. Because education frees our mind from any kind of social, political, cultural prejudices.
LEX: You have been part of a lot of action and activism, what are some happy memories that you have from the work that you’ve been doing?
BISHWARAJ: I started my career in Radio as an RJ and have been part of massive media
campaigning programs through meetings, workshops, orientations and rallies like Gaijatra
(National LGBTI Pride). I still feel good and happy when I remember a rally where I
became a Behula (Groom) as I won’t be in my real life because of massive governmental
and societal tyrannies. They would be among my happiest memories in life. On the other hand I am accepted and respected in my family. My youngest brother delivered a speech at the national consultation meeting of Blue Diamond Society regarding my childhood, my college life and about the responsibility I have for my family and community. He said he will always be with me just like Laxman in Ramayan of the Hindu epic… I cried very much hearing his support in front of the entire event and attendees. It was a moving moment and we all cried together while my brother delivered his speech. I feel very lucky to have my family support.
LEX: What is a dream that you have?
BISHWARAJ: I am the first Mr Gay Handsome of Nepal and continuously working and advocating for protection and promotion of LGBTIQ rights in my own way. I really
want to participate in Mr Gay World which would be my dream.
LEX: What’s your advice to the many young LGBTIQ’s in Nepal?
BISHWARAJ: I would like to encourage you to live your life with dignity and pursue happiness. Coming out is a very long ongoing process and it is essential to have a strong and courageous heart for that. I also want to share to LGBTIQ friends that harmful views are sometimes promoted to young people by those central to their lives, such as their peers, parents, teachers or religious leaders. However, these groups can also be valuable in driving the change in society that leads to inclusion for the LGBTIQ community.