Samarpan Maiti from Midnapore makes India proud in Mr Gay World pageant

Updated: May 30, 2018, 08:03 IST | Hemal Ashar

Cancer researcher and scientist Samarpan Maiti bags third place in Mr Gay World pageant in South Africa

Samarpan Maiti (third from left) on stage in the national costume round of the pageant in South Africa
Samarpan Maiti (third from left) on stage in the national costume round of the pageant in South Africa

A 29-year-old from Kolkata has finally broken the jinx at the Mr Gay World pageant, managing the second runner-up spot at the event held in Knysna, South Africa, on May 26. Samarpan Maiti, who hails from a West Bengal village in Siddha district (East Midnapore), is a senior fellow at CISR Indian Institute of Chemical Biology.

Maiti was picked after a series of events held by the Mr Gay World organisation (South West Asian region) run by singer, flamboyant actor-entertainer and well-known face and voice of the LGBT community in Mumbai, Sushant Divgikar. Maiti is the first Indian to break into the top 3, with Indians having competed at the pageant six times already.

Samarpan Maiti (right) at Mr Gay World pageant with Eric Butter, president Mr.Gay World Organisation
Samarpan Maiti (right) at Mr Gay World pageant with Eric Butter, president Mr.Gay World Organisation

Calm and sexy
When asked what he thought swung the judges in his favour, Maiti said "It was my social work for the underprivileged LGBTQ community, living in slums and rural areas. I address their health issues and try to educate them about LGBT rights." He added, "The jury also praised my physique. I work out for 1.5 hours in the gym daily and was smiling when they told me they could not believe a calm and quiet person like me could be so sexy."

Drugs for cancer
It's been a long journey for the researcher who said he is working on the discovery of low-cost medicine for cancer. I am also working on drug repositioning. This means treating cancer with drugs used for other diseases, but never used in cancer." Asked about Siddhartha Mukherjee's theory in his book 'The Emperor of All Maladies' where he says cancer may never disappear but we can keep improving our management of it, Maiti said, "I absolutely love this question. I use the term 'cancer management' instead of treatment. Cancer isn't always a one-time event. The cancer may not grow or spread as long as you're getting treatment. Sometimes when treatment shrinks the cancer, you can take a break until the cancer starts to grow again."

Sushant Divgikar with Samarpan Maiti
Sushant Divgikar with Samarpan Maiti

A different music
While cancer patients have their challenges, Maiti's journey has been a fraught one in a different way. From being told to leave a hostel, because authorities disapproved of his closeness with another man who eventually married his sister, Maiti has had his share of barbs along with bouquets. He said, "My colleagues learnt about my orientation when I took up different causes for the LGBT community. Their reactions were mixed, some comments were shocking. A few of my colleagues were sarcastic saying that Samarpan wanted to prove himself exceptional in every way so he chose to become gay!"

About his family
Maiti came out to his family in 2016, (his father had passed away years earlier) with some drama and a lot of denial. "Finally, my sister came around because she wants to see me happy. My mother is not yet happy but supports me out of affection. My family agreed when I wanted to put a message about marriage equality in my sister's wedding card. Then mom came with me to invite the 'hijra' community. I know now she will gladly accept my man some day," he says.

Maiti's angels who gave wing to his South Africa sojourn were Lalit Group's Keshav Suri, LGBT community member and ally who funded tickets; and Salvation Star, a Mumbai LGBT organization that held a fundraising event to facilitate Maiti's participation.

'Samarpan has broken stereotypes'
Sushant Divgikar, head of the South West Asian region of the Gay Mr World Organisation said, "Samarpan's is a stupendous achievement. He has raised the bar for India and shattered stereotypes and barriers, with his village roots and humble background. Samarpan has proved that your dreams are important, wherever you come from."

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