Sushant Divgikar won four awards the highest by any contestant at the Mr Gay World competition in Rome last week
His own country may not accept him and his ilk, but Sushant Divgikar has found both acceptance and recognition abroad. Divgikar, who holds the title of Mr Gay India, represented the country at the Mr Gay World competition held in Rome earlier last week.
While Divgikar did not win the coveted Mr Gay World Award, which was bagged by a man from the United Kingdom, he won awards in four different categories the highest by any participant including the People’s Choice award.
Though Divgikar is happy that he represented the LGBT community in the contest, the neglect from the government and the apathy towards the community in India nagged him throughout. “The delegates from other countries were representing their nation.
They were given everything officially and all their expenses were taken care of, but I had to do everything myself. It was very de-motivating to see officials travelling with contestants even from countries like Croatia. That’s when I decided that I wasn’t participating for India, but for the LGBT community in the country,” he said.
Divgikar bagged four awards Mr Congeniality, Mr People’s Choice, Mr Art and a group award for Sports. “While the figures weren’t released, I was told by an associate in the competition that I was leading by almost a million votes in the People’s Choice award.
Still, I did not win the Mr Gay World Award and finished in the top ten. Had I been a judge even I wouldn’t have given myself the award. Why would you give it to a person from a country where being gay is considered a crime? The one thing this competition has done, however, is that it has assured me that the nation isn’t against the reading down of Section 377, only the government is.”
Divgikar pointed out that even England, which imposed criminalization of gay sex on India, has repealed the legislation and allowed gay marriages and that even the competition’s winner was from that country. Divgikar said the winner received a hero’s welcome in the UK, but no one in India even cared that he had participated or won four awards.
The LGBT community, however, has taken inspiration from Divgikar’s participation. Sonal Giani, advocacy officer, The Humsafar Trust, said, “Sushant winning the People’s Choice award despite being pitted against contestants from nations where even gay marriage is legal, is testimony to the fact that the so-called ‘minuscule minority’ in India is a major voice.”
“Sushant is a bundle of raw energy. His jovial disposition and grounded attitude makes him a strong contender in every contest. He wears his sexuality on his sleeve and doesn’t mind flaunting his feminine side. That’s what we need to learn from him that being a woman or being effeminate is nothing to be ashamed about,” she added.