On the 19th issue of Friendly Fridays we continue with our mission to build a talent map, with that in mind we have here with us today, the very talented and friendly TV personality Sushant Divgikar. Let me assure you calling him just a tv personality fails to do justice to the person he is and all that he has done so far. After having a small chat with him we can surely say that he has a great sense of humour. He is so cheerful and enthusiastic at all times and lifts up spirits of everyone he comes in contact with.
In his bag he has achievements which include winning the title of Mr Gay India 2014, also holding the world record of winning four titles in one single pageant. The young 24 year old has also represented India in Mr Gay World in the same year.
He is not just a social activist for the LGBTQ community but for women and children’s rights as well. It is also interesting to note that he has a double master in Psychology. He is a theatre artist a Tv actor, a VJ and a choreographer. You might remember him from Big Boss season 8, where he was one of the rather mischievous contestants.
Sushant is a total fashionista, with his vibrant personality and good looks he has won the hearts of thousands of men and women. Sushant is amongst one of the few youngsters we have in our country who are vocal and open about their sexual orientation. He seems to have no qualms about the same and truly is an inspiration for the millions in our country who are scared to come out of the closet.
Hi Sushant, Welcome to Friendly Fridays!
Team ED: If you had to describe yourself in 3 words, what would those be?
Sushant Divgikar: The three words definitely would be Cool, Confident and well Charming.
Team ED: The 3 C’s! Wonderful. You’ve been open about your sexual preferences unlike many others in our own country, what do you think is the biggest impediment for people not coming out in our country?
Sushant Divgikar: To be honest, it is very disheartening to know how people in our country don’t want to come out! More people should, as it further acts as a model for the rest of the community members. I think the biggest impediments in our society are the prejudiced notions that the people already have. People assume that if they come out, they might not get reputed jobs. What these people need to do is to take that risk of coming out as it is so much better than being someone who they are not.
Team ED: And how do you think all this is changing with time?
Sushant Divgikar: Mostly the role models I have are from west and I have used the confidence that they exuberate to my own advantage; however the three people I really look up to in the LGBT community in India are Harrish, Ashok and Lakshmi. I think with time the scenario is changing, although there are still deep rooted issues in our society and people have prejudices against their own sexual preferences, which really need to be done away with. However I am glad to admit that more and more people are coming out, I receive so many emails as well as messages that tell me how I have been a role model for them and it makes me feel wonderful.
Team ED: You surely are a role model for this community! Has life been this way for you always or were there hurdles, and if so how did you tackle them?
Sushant Divgikar: The biggest problem with our society is that we tend to tag people. Tags like he is ugly, he is fat or he is gay, she is a lesbian etc, this needs to change first and foremost. I come from a very good and intellectual family of IAS officers and bank employees, also with army and navy background so I believe I am privileged in that sense. For me I have been exposed to the community, which works in my favour but it’s not the case with everyone. It is sad to note that the industry that we have in our country is very prejudiced. If you’re open about your sexual preference they don’t see how talented you are rather they judge you on the basis of the fact that you are gay.
Team ED: You can rightfully be called the face of the LGBT community in our country, how does that feel?
Sushant Divgikar: That actually feels very special; this feeling to be known in such a manner is truly amazing. One should note that there are others as well like Ashok Rao Kavi, Harish Iyer and Lakshmi Narayan Tripathi ( I mentioned them earlier) who are working in the very same direction and have been constant pillars of strength for the community. We need more people like them to encourage and tell people that there is nothing wrong with them if they are anything but straight.
Here have a look of what Sushant had to say right before his pageant:
Team ED: Great! So tell us more about your experience at the Mister Gay World last year?
Sushant Divgikar: It was fantastic and it’s a wonderful feeling as well! It came rather as a shock than a surprise to others at the pageant when they saw me, for people who used to feel that Indians aren’t fashion forward and they aren’t well spoken.
I made a large number of friends from different parts of the world and was also listed amongst the top 10 most beautiful gay men in the world. Also it had always been my dream to represent India, wear a crown and my satchel, so to sum it up this whole experience was nothing less than a dream come true for me.
Team ED: On a personal note, do you think that there should be separate beauty pageants for the LGBT community or should they be encouraged to participate elsewhere as well?
Sushant Divgikar: To be honest, I don’t think so. I know a lot of male winners from pageants who actually belong to the community. However these pageants serve as a good opportunity for people to come out. These beauty pageants are perfect places for those who are open about their orientation and who acknowledge their sexual preferences.
However one disappointment that I have was that when I came back I didn’t get the welcome that I deserved, one that other regular models get. Moreover I wasn’t funded. If I, not being funded and not getting any special benefits can still go out and represent the country internationally, then so can the rest of the community. I truly believe that if individuals from the community are provided with an impetus, they are sponsored and are given grooming sessions, this community can do wonders!
I believe it’s always better to have a pageant as its way better than being something that you are not. Why live under a mask?
Team ED: Coming to your participation in Big boss, it is now in the past, do you plan to be part of some other reality show anytime soon?
Sushant Divgikar: Yes I have been approached for many other reality shows and of course I am not doing all of them. I was offered Nach Baliye as well but I couldn’t participate because well I am single and I don’t have a baliye! (Laughs). There is another very popular show that I am in talks with; however it’s too soon to disclose it right now.
Team ED: We wish you luck for your future endeavors! Being part of reality Tv how close according to you are these shows to actual reality?
Sushant Divgikar: Very close! They are definitely not scripted. They might be edited which gives it the feel that it might be scripted. The situations we are put, the fights, the misunderstandings, the frustrations are all for real. To talk in particular about our Indian Television Reality shows, I feel in our country even the performance based reality shows count upon a person’s fame. Audience needs to be connected with the person and they will make you win.
Team ED: I think your fans will be happy to read that! So tell us one thing your fans don’t know about you?
Sushant Divgikar: I am single and absolutely ready to mingle (smiles).
Team ED: Haha, you’re surely going to be flooded with proposals soon! Okay so one advice you would want to give to the youth about being who they really are!
Sushant Divgikar: This message is more for the parents! Parents please don’t live your dream through your children’s eyes. Let them live their own dreams and stop this from becoming a vicious cycle! I have the most amazing set of parents, I am an International model, the face of the LGBT community, a social activist, Tv personality and that is mainly because my parents have never pressurized me. I think there is nothing stopping you until your parents are there to support you! I think parents shouldn’t discourage their children from opting out of non-mainstream jobs, because face it we also need hairstylists and Jewellery designers apart from engineers and doctors etc. And to all the youngsters out there, please be who you really are; and be comfortable in your own skin.
Team ED: Those surely are words of wisdom! So what would your motto or your core belief in life be?
Sushant Divgikar: Always be yourself! Don’t let anyone dim your sparkle. Try making yourself capable of everything possible. Better yourself everyday so that your only competitor is you.
Team ED: Lastly! What do you think about Friendly Fridays?
Sushant Divgikar: I think it’s a fantastic initiative! You just called me talented, so sweet of you! Big ,Big kisses and hugs to my fans and all those people who support me in my cause.