Odisha boy Anwesh Sahoo, to represent the country at Mr Gay World in April
Monday, January 25, was a red letter day, make that pink letter though, since that is the colour of the gay community, for 20-year-old Anwesh Sahoo. Sahoo won the Mr. Gay World India (MGWI) title in Mumbai that day, and, now Anwesh will represent India at the Mr Gay World to be held in Malta, (Europe) from April 9 to 23, this year.
Odisha boy Anwesh Sahoo
The Odisha native from a small town, Kaniha in Odisha, and student of IIIT (International Institute of Information Technology) Delhi, will be the country’s sole representative at the pageant.
Sahoo will be mentored by Sushant Divgikar, national director of MGWI, and a team. Divgikar has represented India at the pageant in 2014 in Rome. Divgikar says, “At 20, Anwesh is the youngest MGWI. He was the dark horse in the preliminary rounds of the pageant. But he was consistent, beating 232 others. He is talented and has a great future. I will have people from the glamour industry to groom Anwesh and teach him etiquette. Former beauty pageant winners and models will train him, in different aspects like diction, walking gait, how his skin and body can look great,” says Divgikar, actor and model.
During the India pageant, Sahoo was interviewed by a jury panel, he had to participate in a party, which tested his social skills, there was a component called campaign with a cause and a talent round too. Sahoo says, “I chose ‘fitting out’ which is opposed to fitting in as the theme for my campaign cause. Masculinity and femininity are being redefined. People need to be empowered for who they are. I drew inspiration for this campaign from my struggle to be accepted in school,” says Sahoo.
There is some studying to do too, if Sahoo wants to do well at the pageant. He says, "I am studying LGBT history as I want to do well in the trivia round. The social media and congeniality rounds will also be important; I am a hard worker and will do my best.”
Sahoo’s journey began when he read a piece in ‘Gay Talk’ magazine about New Zealand’s Andreas Derleth, Mr. Gay World 2012 winner. That inspired Sahoo, then 17, to come out of the closet. “I realised that being queer was beautiful and was able to accept myself. My sister was very supportive and helped me tell my parents. From being bullied in school to winning MGWI; it has been such an amazing journey,” he says on the phone from Delhi.
Sahoo will be in Mumbai for the Gay Pride Parade on February 6. From then on, he will juggle his time between his home in Delhi and Mumbai, “for pageant preparations and studies. I have started working for a good body by going to the gym daily.” Sahoo may need to have a very strong mind too. Sahoo reveals that, “Sushant told me I will get a lot of hate mail for being MGWI, from those who are homophobic; but I am ready for that too. It is in fact a great honour for me, to inspire others," he signs off.
Meet you in Malta, Anwesh Sahoo
>> A Southern European island country comprising an archipelago (an island group or island chain) in the Mediterranean Sea. Capital: Valletta
>> It has two official languages: Maltese and English.
>> Popular tourist destination with warm climate, architectural and historical monuments.