Saturday, October 3, 2015

LGBT Cafes of Hanoi

Hanoi’s old quarter offers two of my favorite things in one: Queer spaces and cafes. I didn’t go searching for these places. They found me.

Comga Café
I happened to be staying in a hotel down the street from the three-story Comga Café. A place famous for its chicken rice and coffee. It’s easy to walk in and out of here without even knowing that a queer space exists on the third floor. I probably would have missed it entirely if it were not for this lovely blurb on the menu. In this subtle way, they are able to carry out their business without overtly promoting a queer agenda.

Hanoi Social Club
Hanoi Social Club was a bit more obvious. This place that came recommended to me by fellow travel bloggers and café lovers. I was genuinely surprised when a rainbow flag greeted me at the front door. This café doesn’t try to hid its purpose. They have advertisements for speed dating and movie viewings all over the place. Apparently this café is also a sponsor of the VietPride Parade. On the walls were photographs belonging to Maika Elan's series on Gay Couples.

Queer bars and clubs and spas are now (thankfully) not uncommon in cities all over SE Asia, but queer cafes are quiet rare. I was thankful to see these spaces which are both inclusive and casual. If I lived in Hanoi I would definitely make an effort to attend some of their events and workshops – like the homemade lipstick class – perfect for a femme like me! 

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