The Odisha boy shares his experience from the biggest gay pageant in the world where he represented India
Twenty-year-old Anwesh Sahoo has been back from Malta in Europe where he rubbed shoulders with 23 other gay men from around the world at the Mr Gay World pageant. His third year engineering exams back in Delhi meant he had to be back on April 25. “I am so glad I passed,” says an excited Sahoo who hails from Odisha and is a sudent of IIIT (International Institute of Information Technology).
Anwesh Sahoo in his black and white shoot for the pageant
Sahoo was mentored by Sushant Divgikar, national director of Mr Gay World India (MGWI) who himself was a former contestant at the pageant. “I was there in Malta cheering him. Anwesh did an awesome job and I am very proud of him. He was able to make it almost from nowhere since January he has been working very hard and has transformed himself so beautifully which is great to see,” said Divgikar.
Sahoo with his fellow contestants in Malta, says he has bonded for life with these new friends
The pageant was held in Malta from April 9 to 23, this year with Mr Spain Roger Gosalbez Pitaluga taking the crown. “Roger was really sweet and we both were good friends. After he won a fellow contestant forgot his clothes, Roger actually was so sweet that he couriered it to him. It was a great experience to meet so many great people and share stories with them. There was great camaraderie and no bitching,” says the Indian who made it to the top 12 at the contest.
Sahoo on the ramp during the national costume round where he was dressed like a peacock
The pageant had a number of different challenges where the 24 contestants had to show their prowess which included a social campaign. “I learnt that it is difficult being gay anywhere in the world. Gay people are looked down upon and bullied even in the west and other parts of Asia. I felt proud of my skin colour. People there were either black or white – I was the only one with the unique skin colour. Many fellow contestants said they wanted my skin colour. I got a lot of confidence from that,” added Sahoo.
The pageant has inspired him to learn Spanish and he says that he will stay in touch with his new friends from Mr Gay World for life. “I wore a peacock costume as my national dress for the pageant. It was a similar concept of the national bird to Sushant’s but mine was more about the neck while his was tail related. It was nice to be the national bird and to represent India in front of the world,” Sahoo said.
When asked if he has a boyfriend now, Sahoo giggled and said, “That will be a secret.” An internship with the Godrej Culture Lab for two months will bring Anwesh to the city soon. He signed off saying, “I like drawing caricatures and Parmesh Shahani from there gave me this great opportunity. I want to experiment with life though I have one more year of engineering left. I think post that I will shift to Mumbai and see what I can do here.”