Beauty pageants are often equated with patriarchy or the idea that women are objects whose worth is estimated solely by their looks. But in recent years, many marginalized groups in India, such as the LGBTQ community, have made an effort to co-opt such events.
Though LGBT people are at risk everywhere in the world, outside India, the LGBT population has found different means of self-expression and carved out safe spaces for themselves through movie festivals, art shows and performances.
Mr Gay World India is a national beauty pageant that selects its winner to represent India at gay pageants globally notably to the annual Mr Gay World. The National Director and Producer of the organization is the 2014 winner, Sushant Divgikar.
The inception of the pageant happened in 2008 when Zoltan Parag was crowned the first Mr Gay India. The event received media attention heavily when popular model and reality star Sushant Divgikar won the pageant in 2014. Subsequently, the pageant which at first was irregular is now held annually in Mumbai.
Amidst the riot of pride colours in the ‘financial capital of India,’ The Lalit Mumbai proudly hosted the finale of country’s most inclusive pageant: ‘Mr Gay India 2019’. Suresh Ramdas was crowned as the winner while Arjun Das was adjudged as the first runner-up and Varun Shinde became the second runner-up during the Mr Gay India 2019 finale.
The 37 years old tall, dark and handsome Bengaluru-based techie, Suresh Ramdas unfurled his silver cape in confidence and completely swayed down the ramp in a black vest and hot pants.
In one of the rounds, Suresh was asked a very clichéd question that what is the one thing he would like to change about himself, to which he said that, being not fair is one of the ‘defect’ he has and he always dreamt of stopping the discrimination in the society on the basis of colour. Moments later, it was not a surprise for most of the crowd when he was chosen as the winner of MGWI.
Events like MGWI are now encouraging people from the LGBTQ community to come out of their closeted life and show their talents to others. People like Namitha Marimuthu, who transformed to a transwoman over half a decade ago, are a torchbearer for equality of the LGBT community who went on to become fashion week showstopper and Anvesh Sahoo, who became the youngest title holder of MGWI in 2016.
As the aftermath of Section 377 being decriminalized last year, MGWI received participation from all over the country and there was a significant increase in the candidates in comparison to previous years. We saw variety of candidates such as Arjun, a fashion designer from Kolkata whose rainbow-coloured beautiful drape disappeared into a prism, based on the concept that, “when rainbow colours enter a prism, they convert into white light which is the ultimate truth”, and Varun Shinde, a bearded school principal from Pune who performed in saari, setting up a very good example for the kids at his school to be comfortable with who you are.
Unlike mainstream fashion world contests, where facial beauty and figure becomes the primary focus, these ramps are unrestrained by materialistic barriers like colour and physicality. Sushant Divgikar says that “We are not going to force you to get an eight-pack”, he even recalls some of the previous winners being 5ft-4 inches tall.
This kind of platforms has its perks too. Namitha Marimuthu who became the second runner-up at Miss TransQueen India 2018, not only got a chance to participate in a dance reality show, “Kings of Dance” but also landed a role in an upcoming Tamil movie.
Anvesh Sahoo who became the youngest Mr Gay World India in 2016 got hired by Godrej Culture Labs. He has given 4 TEDx speeches till now and his engineering college where he passed out from is so proud of him that they have even put a picture of him winning the title in their official website. In one of the TEDx speech, Anvesh said that “It is as difficult and beautiful to be gay in India as it is to be human in India. Gay is still a cuss word in India.”
However, times are changing. Miss Universe 2018 welcomed the first transgender women as a candidate from Spain.
We congratulate Suresh Ramdas for winning the title of Mr Gay World India this year and hope that India also paves the path for the LGBT community to come forward and showcase their talent in every field.
Source – indiatimes.com