Gay Nepal: Interview with Kathmandu local boy Tilak

Stefan Arestis

Nepal ranks as one of our favourite destinations. It has some of the most beautiful scenery we've ever seen, particularly on the Annapurna circuit, and foodies will be excited to taste the many types of dal bhat. The icing on the cake, Nepal is a gay friendly country – by Asian standards of course.

Before arriving in Nepal, we expected it to be another very socially conservative South Asian country like the Maldives, India and Sri Lanka, where homosexuality is a crime. However, unlike it's more conservative neighbours, the Nepalese government has over the past decade taken extremely positive steps to protect its LGBTQ community instead of criminalising them:

  • in 2007, the Nepalese Government legalised homosexuality
  • in September 2015, the Nepalese government enshrined new anti-discrimination laws into the country's constitution including legal protection for sexual minorities.

As visitors to Nepal, we first noticed this when having to complete our landing card when we arrived at Kathmandu airport; it contained a third “Other” tick box for a person's sex:

Nepal Immigration Arrival Card

The push towards gay tolerance and acceptance by the government can be seen in Nepalese society. We felt extremely welcome travelling as a gay couple in Nepal. We never had problems getting a double bed, and only ever encountered warm friendly people, curious to know more about us.

In Kathmandu, we met local boy Tilak, who showed us the small gay scene in Thamel and told us more about what gay life is like in Nepal. Whilst the country is very progressive on paper, and to foreigners, for the local LGBTQ community, Nepal is still very conservative, and for this reason Tilak asked that we keep his identity anonymous.

Hello Tilak, please introduce yourself:

Namaste Stefan and Seby. I am Tilak, a 32 years old Nepali social worker, living and working in Kathmandu. I've spent a lot of time abroad, particularly in the US and the UK when I was a student.

Are you openly gay?

I am out to my immediate family (parents, siblings), close friends and some colleagues including my boss. I am lucky to have open minded parents They are extremely supportive and have no issues with it, but have asked me to be discrete to avoid ‘society' gossiping.

I haven’t told anyone else, although I'm sure they've figured it out by now. I live in a society, where marriage is the norm: I am now in my 30s and am still not married, which is a big deal here!

Gay Nepal: out on the town in Kathmandu
Gay Nepal: discovering Kathmandu's gay night life with Adheep and friends

What's it like growing up gay in Nepal?

Nepal is a socially conservative country. Boys are expected to eventually marry in Hindu culture, and gayness is not particularly accepted.

But the capital city, Kathmandu, has become more international and touristy over the years, largely due to the trekking industry. So much so that we now even have local tour companies here dedicated to gay travel for example, which I think is amazing for a South Asian country! This has also really helped shift attitudes here, making it easier for the younger generation. 

One other related thing that comes to mind, growing up, we're used to seeing two men holding hands and being very docile with each other in public. This is something you will see a lot of in Nepal, and also in India. This is not a gay thing at all, it's just cultural for us – a sign of friendship amongst men, nothing more.

Gay Nepalese: boys in Kathmandu
Nepalese boys are very comfortable and affectionate with each other in public

What's the gay scene in Kathmandu like?

The gay scene of Nepal is largely based in Thamel, central Kathmandu. Outside of the capital, there isn't much of a gay scene anywhere else. We use gay mobile phone apps like Grindr and Scruff to connect with each other.

The main gay bars and clubs in Kathmandu are:

  • PINK Tiffany: this is the main gay bar. It was opened by the famous transgender model and activist: Meghna Lama. By day it's a restaurant, and in the evening it's my favourite place to come for cocktails. It's open every day from 10am to midnight. It's located at Freak Street, Kathmandu 44600.
  • Fire: although this is primarily a straight club, on Friday nights it attracts a lot of local gay boys, and is the best gay club night out in Kathmandu. Best time to come is after 11pm. It is located at: Chaksibari Marga Thamel, Kathmandu. To go there, ask for the Reggae bar, which everybody knows – it is located on the first floor under the Reggae bar.
  • Purple Haze Rock Bar: one of the most popular clubs in Kathmandu and also very gay friendly. It's a rock club and usually has some of Nepal's best bands playing live. It attracts a fun, open minded and very mixed crowd, which is why we love it. It's open everyday from 5pm till midnight. The address is: Thamel, Kathmandu, Nepal 977.
gay nepal night out in kathmandu
Boys night out in Kathmandu

Are there any gay friendly hotels you recommend in Kathmandu?

For Kathmandu, based on the opinions of gay friends from abroad who've visited Nepal, I would recommend these ones:

HYATT REGENCY KATHMANDU   Check prices now

  • A brand, welknown for its strong LGBT focus.
  • Located near Boudhanath Stupa, a UNESCO world heritage site.
  • Prices start from $180 / £120 per night. 

STAY WITH A GAY LOCAL

Misterb&b is the Airbnb equivalent for the LGBTQ community. Unlike on Airbnb, you know your host is gay, avoiding any nasty surprises when you check in. It is also a great way to meet gay locals and discover the underground gay scene. Click below to get 10 € (or $10) off your first booking.

HOTEL HOLY HIMALAYA   Check prices now

  • This is the only hotel in Kathmandu who advertises itself as a gay-friendly hotel.
  • Located in the tourist center of Kathmandu,Thamel, where all the action happens. 
  • Prices start from $30 / £20 for a double room.

Are there any popular gay pride events in Nepal?

We have an annual pride parade held in August/September on the day of Gaijatra (a local Nepali festival of cows). The turnout is pretty high and it's a lot of fun.

Another popular event we love is a gay beauty contest called Mr Gay Handsome held every June in Kathmandu. It was started by The Blue Diamond Society, one of our most popular LGBTQ organisations.

Mr Handsome Nepal
Mr Handsome Nepal gay beauty contest held every June in Kathmandu

Finally, are there any particular styles of saris you recommend we wear for Kathmandu gay pride?

Hahaha I agree with you boys. The sarees are beautiful and make for a fabulous outfit, especially during pride.

To be honest, one would do, they're all awesome! My favourite is the black/red saris worn by the Newar women, called haku patasi:

Newar women saris
Saris worn by the Newari women

Happy travels are safe travels

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Gay Nepal interview with Tilak from Kathmandu
Stefan Arestis

Stefan is the co-founder, editor and author the gay travel blog nomadicboys.com. As a travel nerd, he has explored more than 80 countries across 5 continents. What he loves the most about travelling is discovering the local gay scene, making new friends and learning new cultures. His advice about LGBTQ travel has been featured in Gay Times, Gaycities, Pink News, Gay Star News, Attitude and Towleroad. He has also written about gay travel for other non-gay specific publications including Lonely Planet, The New York Times, The Guardian and The Huffington Post. Stefan is also a qualified lawyer, having practised as a commercial property litigator in London for over 10 years. He left his lawyer days behind to work full time on Nomadic Boys with his husband Sebastien. Find out more about Nomadic Boys.

54 thoughts on “Gay Nepal: Interview with Kathmandu local boy Tilak”

  1. this is a great article ! i have always wondered how it was to travel in Nepal specially for gay people. because as we all know, Nepal is conservatively a Hindu country, and being one that belong to LGBTQ community is a no no.

    haha i loved the tick box on the arrival card.

    i hope to meet good people in Nepal that can show me around.

    best of both worlds !!

    kisses and hugs from Philippines

    Erol/Michelle

  2. As a practicing Buddhist, and gay man myself, I am glad to see Nepal is so open and acxwpting of our community. You should never have to hide who u are or who u love!

  3. i am late to see this post. by the way i am happy for being so frank and motivational way to come out as gay. i am gay too. i have tried to tell them about it but they took it as the sign of my over-studied mental disorder. and they have taken all my book to home so that i will not study more to become more mad.

    by the way i want to find the friend of my age or near to it. and my age is 22. i am student of physics and bit of writer too. and mainly i want to celebrate for who i am?

    • Lol! I am also 22, but I am still in the closet. My older sister is the only one who knows. There is no way I can tell my family that their oldest son is gay.
      I’d like to try being your friend. Plus, I also want to be a writer. I don’t know what kind of writing you do, but I want to try writing novels.

  4. I will be in Nepal from April 15 till May 12th. Please let me know. I’m visiting from the USA. I am originally from Nepal and I haven’t been able to meet any Nepal gay in the US yet.

    I wanna come up with an idea how we can make a better and accepting community for Gays in Nepal. We can brainstorm together. 🙂

    Please email me at khadka.akash21@gmail.com

  5. I try to be friendly with some Nepal guys,they are very friendly & sweet but then they changebmind like scared or something, I like their looks can I gets to know real nice guys,never married,alone in USA,never feel this before,help..

  6. Hello!

    This article was a really good read, and the comments are very interesting. I noticed the ‘other’ gender as we arrived.

    I am here from England, and arrived here yesterday to the great surprise of the pride event!

    It was amazing to walk proudly with so many people, and I had the absolute pleasure of meeting some of the organisers of Blue Diamond. It was a truly special day.

    I am here two more nights, and would love to know if there are any LGBTQI+ bars/clubs that I could visit!

    Maybe someone is going, and would invite me along too?

    I look forward to hearing from you,

    Thank you

    Asher

  7. I love my Nomadic boys, always giving great tips and informative interviews with locals.
    I’m coming to Nepal on the 1st of September travelling around a bit, but mostly based in Kathamandu. If any local guy wants to get in touch I’ll buy you a beer if you take me a good gay friendly bar 🙂

  8. Dear Sahil Shrestha,
    Soon i will visit nepal for the first time coming from europe. I would be happy to get some info from you about traveling in your beautiful country. So could you give me your facebook id or emailadres? Then i may chat with you directly. Thanks and regards Eric

  9. It is hard to come out as gay in nepal because nepalese people still thinks that transgender and crossdresser are gays and gayism is a sin or psycological disorder. But it is great to know that nepal government is supporting gays.

  10. I too am a gay living in Kathmandu and i am too in my 20s. It’s almost the same for me as tilak, but i have yet to disclose it to my parents though. I am sure they would be supportive as well. I have shared it to few of my friends and they have proven to be so supportive. I have yet to find a guy for me. Well it’s like this…. Almost all of them are straight!!! And the ones those aren’t straight are only up for something physical or hookups (the ones i have met so far…) And there are many who are too shy to come out. Although people are starting to support a person being gay, many are still afraid or shy to come out. It’s mostly because of our culture as well. It is still a “taboo” to almost all of the elderly people.
    There is also a misconception among people here that being gay means being a transgender. Most people neglect the fact that being gay doesn’t necessary means being a transgender. And another misconception is a gay is someone who “acts” very “girlish” and a man who is in touch with his feminine side more than he needs to be… Well to me thats just an offensive stereotype…
    I am very thankful to NGO like ‘Blue diamond society’ who are fighting for people like me and many others who choose to live this life style.
    It’s great that the nee constitution has some laws in favor of us but as long as the people of the country stay closed and traditional to their thoughts about love, marriage and sex it will be hard for a openly gay person to live normally in this society.

    • Hi Baibhav thanks so much for your message. This is awful to hear. What sort of laws does the constitution have in favour please?

      • Well the states gay marriages legal. It was legalised before at the previous constitution. Sorry i seriously do not follow politics and changing constitution. But as far as i know gay marriage has been legalised. 🙂 (yay!)….. But it doesn’t change much though. Even though gay marriage is legalised, i have not heard even one gay couple getting married. And even if there was one that i missed i am not sure if the society accepts their marriage… The people yet have to grow out of their traditional ways of thinking and accept the many changes happening in the society… Until that happens no matter what the law says it’s still going to be considered an ill-spoken Taboo.

  11. I love Nepal so much, that’s why I visit this beautiful country every year. They re very kind and welcome to you from their heart. Nepali Boys are cute and I make relationship with one of them . it s the most great moment in my life.

    • Generally they are ok from what we hear from friends there, but homes completely destroyed. So so sad to see this happen to such a beautiful country!

  12. Nice pics .

    Unfortunate , Very sad that Nepal gone to rubble due to the natural calamity. Really shocked to see that. I don’t know whether the author of this page returned back from Nepal or not. Sir, Are you safe?.

  13. Would love to have contacts in Nepal due to the devastating earthquake so that we know where to channel aid. Hope to go there personally to assist in the coming months. Cheers, John

  14. I’m so glad I stumbled upon this web page! My partner/husband and I are travelling to Kathmandu in a couple of months and wondered about the culture there and it’s views on same sex relationships! You all look like you had a fantastic time there! 😀

    • Hi Paul thank you for your message. You will love Nepal- it was our favourite place on our travels. Will you be doing any trekking there?

  15. Awwwwww, i need to admaire seby’s photo first, hahahahaaaaaaah.

    I’m glad to hear your guy’s interesting joural in Nepal.
    Nepal is really good place , starting by its third gender tick box on the arrival card. haha .. Its really open-mind for an Asian country i think… And it seems there are plenty of cute guys in Nepal from your nightout photo, so envy 😉

    greeting from China 🙂

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