Kartik Chhetri, owner of Pink Tiffany, a queer-friendly restaurant located in Thamel likes to introduce himself as an entrepreneur by profession and a proud gay model by passion. He is also a social service activist.
Rolling Nexus under the initiative of #RollingPrideBeyondJune features Kartik Chhetri for the September Edition to understand 4Es - Employment, Entrepreneurship, Empowerment and Engagement from his perspective and overall to learn about his lived experience as a gay man in Nepal.
Here's the conversation that follows with Mr Chhetri!
The LGBTQ+ community is associated with colours and pride. How would you describe the beauty of the community personally and what makes you proud to be a part of it?
Just like the different colors of our rainbow flag, the LGBTQ+ community is full of unique individuals with colorful personalities. I am proud to be a part of our LGBTQ+ community because it is a beautiful and diverse community that has made my life meaningful.
What are your career aspirations? Does your career aspiration align with your definition of empowerment?
I am very passionate about business and modelling and I aspire to do something great in these two fields. My personality can also be found to be reflected in what I do as a profession. That means my career is an important empowering aspect of my life. Suffice to say, my career aspiration does align with my definition of empowerment.
How long have you been associated with Pink Tiffany? Is it something that you wanted to do or do you have other career plans?
I have been associated with Pink Tiffany for three years now. I have always aspired to work and succeed in areas where queer folks like me are so I am very pleased to be associated with Tiffany.
While going through the social media handles of your restaurant, we got to see a really fun aspect of the community and it also made me want to visit the restaurant as well. What was the inspiration behind Pink Tiffany?
The name Pink Tiffany comes from LGBTQ+ clubs/bars located in Thailand. Pink is a traditionally feminine representing color and Tiffany is a show/event that happens. So, that was the inspiration behind the name. You should visit our restaurant. We will be there to offer you a warm welcome.
How would you describe your entrepreneurial journey so far? Were there any obstacles that you feel you had to face just because you are a part of the LGBTQ+ community?
Well, so far my journey has been great. But I still have a lot to learn. I aim for growth and I am working on it. The obstacles that I have felt during my ownership of Pink Tiffany would be the unnecessary police raids/questioning, seasonal tourism. As of now, the global pandemic would be the deterrent factor from taking the entrepreneurial journey forward. Moreover, the location and the size of our current bar could be better.
There are not many LGBTQ+ centric restaurants and bars in Nepal. Can you share with us the importance of having such places within the community as well as the society in general?
Having queer-friendly bars and restaurants is important. This is because not all queer people feel comfortable and safe around normal clubs/bars. Most of the bars and restaurants are targeted at heterosexuals so if there are more queer-centric bars and restaurants then that would mean a safer space for us to be ourselves. LGBTQ+ folks would be more than happy if more queer-friendly clubs and bars would open in and outside of Kathmandu as well.
From your knowledge, what do you think is the current situation in terms of opportunities in the field of hospitality and business for the LGBTQ+ community?
The scopes are better now. But, we still have a long way to go. Nepal is presumably safe for queer people to visit. And I believe if more LGBTQ+ friendly hotels/spas/massage parlours are available and promoted then there is a huge potential in the hospitality industry of Nepal. We can work towards creating Nepal as a destination for LGBTQ+ tourists. It will be a great success for the hospitality business.
What kind of future do you see for the people of the LGBTQ+ community in the employment and entrepreneurial sectors?
Education and skills are the keys to unlock opportunities in any field. Thus, if LGBTQ+ people can access education with ease in a heteronormative society like ours and be able to equip themselves with marketable expertise then the future for the people of my community would be full of possibilities in employment and entrepreneurial sectors. Government and responsible organizations alike should bring forward affirmative actions regarding the employment of the LGBTQ+ community. We need more campaigns and projects that cater to my community and focus on encouraging our talents and so on.
How would you describe the environment at your restaurant from the perspectives of your staff and visitors?
So far, we have gotten positive responses from our staff and visitors as well. The environment as Tiffany is an engaging and happening one. It's a place for people to sing, dance and spread happiness.
What would you suggest to members of the LGBTQ+ community who want to start a business or an entrepreneurial venture?
There is a possibility in urban Nepal but success does not come without hard work and dedication. Having said that, starting a new business or an entrepreneurial venture can be risky. So authorities should provide us with more supporting factors. This would minimize the probability of uncertainties. I suggest every business enthusiast queer person to believe in their goals and work on achieving them so that they will eventually be able to succeed and be a part of the business world.
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Head/Editor : Pravash Rai
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