BALMA: A new-age networking concept to mark Pride Month

BALMA, a new smartphone app set for launch soon, describes itself as a celebration of the LGBTQIA+ community with the aim of creating a diverse global support network and a more tolerant world.

In keeping with Pride Month in June, iGlobal caught up with its British Indian creator, Peter Singh, to explore the vision behind this new networking concept. He explains that the idea was born in the aftermath of the Indian Supreme Court decision to legalise homosexuality and transgender relationships in September 2018, as a means to bring the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex, and asexual [LGBTQIA+] community closer on an international scale.

It wasn t just feeling joy for my community in India that made me want to create an app like BALMA. I was so encouraged to see this level of acceptance in India that it made me realise that the true path to tolerance is to bring people together, reflects Peter.

What is BALMA?

BALMA strives to connect others whilst also celebrating diversity and inclusivity in a fun and easy way, through some distinctive and customised profile features. The app supports everyone, be it differently-abled people so they can connect with other differently-abled people or with someone who is able-bodied; and can also help those who aren t yet out, to come out to socialise and meet people in a safe and supportive environment.

Businesses, venues, and events can register to promote themselves as a welcoming and safe space for everyone.The multi-dimensional, social networking app claims to offer a number of unique features, including an integrated GPS system. This allows users to connect and make new friendships in any country they visit, if the app is installed by others in the vicinity.

The focus on the app is to build relationships and create a global community, says Peter.

Language barrier

BALMA attempts to also overcome language barriers and is already available in different Indian languages, including Tamil and Telugu. The app, already becoming popular within the queer community in southern India, also allows users to share their star sign.
These things mean a lot, as astrology is a part of our culture and heritage, adds Peter.
Furthermore, the app allows users the option to refine the personality types they are looking for and can highlight the aspects of their life they want others to know more about.
Beyond just virtual connections, features such as merchandise sales will soon be added on. People can buy kurtas and other items, making it easier to find products in real and quick time. It's also beneficial for the international crowd, who have not been to India and are unsure about traditional clothing, explains Peter, who has plans to create a holiday section over time.

Celebrating talent

June is ear-marked for Pride, a month dedicated to celebrating the LGBTQIA+ communities all around the world. And, the BALMA Idol Contest 2020 is celebrating by showcasing the hidden talents of the Global Indian and wider South Asian LGBTQIA+ community. As long as it's filmed and we are able to see it, you?re in. It is an open forum for people to vote and chose the winner. The three winners will be become the face of BALMA when we launch, says Peter, in reference to the launch plan for July.
Ambassadors in Punjab are working towards a queer musical production, while other ambassadors are already active across cities such as Delhi, New York and Toronto.
In India, UK-based Peter is currently also working with human rights activist Laxmi Narayan Tripathi on issues faced by the community during the Covid-19 pandemic.
by Preeti Bali
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