September 16, 2020
Mr Gay India or MGI is one of the more recent pageants that is quickly gaining popularity among people. From Sushant Divgikar to Suresh Ramdas, India has witnessed a series of amazing gay men take part in the pageantry. So we asked Debendra Nath Sanyal, the 2018 runner-up, for a sneak-peek into what goes inside of the MGWI world.
Debendra Nath Sanyal is an Indian artist who is also an actor, a singer and an LGBT activist. He works as a Client Servicing Executive at Brandcare Medical Advertising and Consultancy. He is also the founder of Queer voices of India which aims at bringing out untold stories from across the country.
Debendra agreed to tell us about his journey of Mr Gay India.
Diving into Mr Gay India
How does one get into Mr Gay India?
“In my case, I knew Sushant Digvikar from a very long time. I also know the past winners and participants. 2018 was just the right time to enter Mr Gay India.” He explained that if people are interested, the first thing is to follow the Facebook page since all announcements are made on the page. Next, they should email the MGI team about their intent to participate by registering for the event, and show up for the selection process that follows.
But you have to remember the consequences of diving, the splatter. Luckily, In Debendra’s case, his entry to the pageantry received appreciation and acceptance. “I received a very supportive and overwhelming response from my parents and relatives. My mom was delighted! It was just not parents and relatives but also my work colleagues and friends who were really excited about me participating in Mr Gay India!”
Wait, let’s take a step back. There are a few more things that one should be doing before you decide to take part in MGI.
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My mother's acceptance is more powerful than a bullet. It can pass through the toughest walls of ignorance 🤗 My mom made both my partner @aandurlekar and I super happy, proud and accepted when she showed up at Mumbai Pride 2018 #mumbai #mumbaipride2018 #pride #LGBTIndia #lgbtyouth #lgbtq #mom #mymommy #happymoments #lgbtqa #loveislove🌈 #queeraazadimumbai #sec377quitindia #mother #mymother #acceptancematters #rainbowparents PC : @qgraphy_group
The Prep, Grooming and the Daily Challenges
How do you make yourself eligible? What does MGI look for?
Debendra says, “One needs to be well-read about the LGBT movement not just in India but also the world. They need to know the changes in laws and policies and their impact on the LGBT community. Apart from that, the most important aspect about participating in the pageant is to be themselves. MGI has been extremely inclusive about the kind of participants that get selected each year. The key is to be comfortable in your own skin and exude confidence.”
“Be yourself” is the main mantra Debendra follows and preaches even in his daily life as well. This idea helped him stick through the most difficult of days and challenges.
Talking about the MGI challenges and activities, he adds, “Well, it was hectic! One morning you are doing 3 photoshoot challenges and in the evening you are sitting in front of a 20 member panel from diverse backgrounds talking for more than an hour about why should be given the title of MGI.” The hard work paid off. He won the People’s Choice Award, which went onto become one of his favorite memories of MGI.
Every hurdle you witness is sure to teach you something, what you learn is entirely up to you. Debendra says that “The pageant was also a great learning experience from the co-contests as well as the mentors. I had no idea we will receive so much grooming in such a short interval of time.”
Tricks for the pageantry that is also perfect for daily life
Numero uno, ‘Be genuine’. The second one, that every magazine and study tells you, ‘Be confident’. ‘Be articulate’, this gets you heard and increases clarity in your own head. The last two are qualities that your nursery teacher told you were important. They truly are. ‘Be kind and most importantly, be grateful’ Remember your Ps and Ts.
Apart from these, Debendra considers one more feature that is vital to make it to the top
“Honesty. If you are true to yourself and represent the same, you will make it to the top without any hurdles.”
Entry to the pageant? Check. Skills and prep? Done. But are we forgetting why the pageantry is necessary?
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The top 5 of Mr. Gay World India 2018 😁😁 #mgwiofficial #MGWI #gayfollow #gayfollowers #lgbtsupport #lgbtq #lgbtqa #happyme #gays #instaboy #instagay #igers #goodvibesonly #lovethelook #gay #gayboy #gaysnap #LGBTIndia #lgbtyouth #costume #indianwear #india #goodvibesonly #namaste PC @kittysuindia
Why is Mr Gay India important?
Is it a step towards acceptance and appreciation of the LGBTQ+?
“Yes, it definitely is. Participants of MGI have been vocal about various queer issues on numerous platforms and occasions. These representatives start conversations about challenges queer individuals face on a regular basis. Only by conversation and dialogue can we start our journey towards acceptance, acknowledgment, and appreciation.”
He goes onto explain the multiple reasons why we need pageants like MGI that are inclusive of diversity and are not as shallow as pageants are usually assumed to be. “MGI is unlike other pageants. It selects individual on their capabilities of making a change for the queer community. That is the reason every year we see such diverse participants from various geographies. You will never find participants selected on criteria like body type or gender expression. It’s a gay pageant so you will have to identify as gay, but apart from that there are no other criteria but your intellect and your drive to do something for the queer community.”
This gave rise to another question. Should we be considering pageants for all the pro-pride members? All the parts of LBTQIA+?
I think we are creating spaces like these. (Pageants like MGI for LBTQIA+) There have been a couple of them. The ultimate goal of pageants like these is to find individuals who can be spokespersons for the queer community. The more the merrier! Right?
What do you think of movements like FSOG?
Creating safe spaces for the queer community is always appreciated by the queer community. It allows them to know themselves and know about others. FSOG is doing a fabulous job is bringing out stories and issues which impact lives and inspire queer individuals to be fabulous! Not to forget, it helps us create numerous allies as well.
Mr Gay India is right around the corner. To all the amazing gay men out there, here’s your chance, take your shot! Don’t be afraid to make history.