India: Indian contestant Sushant Divgikar who made it to the Top 10 list of the Mr Gay World 2014 contest hopes that his participation in the reality show “Bigg Boss 8” will change public perceptions about the LGBT community in India.
“I think I can sensitize the people about my community by being the face of LGBT community in ‘Bigg Boss’,” Divgikar told IANS before entering the show.
Divgikar, the winner of Mr.Gay India 2014, had represented India in the 6th annual Mr Gay World contest, where he won the titles of Mr. Congeniality and Mr. Art as well as the People’s Choice Award. The contest ended Aug 30 in Rome.
“Bigg Boss” is a popular reality show in India that in the past already had LGBT representatives. However, Divgikar says he wants to also inspire someone to come out of the closet, besides altering popular public perceptions that being gay is abnormal, a social disgrace and therefore a taboo.
Asked how he would deal if someone in the show makes a personal remark on his sexuality, he said “Your reaction reflects your upbringing. I would deal with the situation according to the intensity of the comment.” It helps that Divgikar has a double masters degree in psychology but added that he has no intentions of using it to his advantage in the reality show.
Divgikar has recently become a champion for the LGBT community in India because he chose to be a flag-bearer for gay pride at a time when the country has reinstated strict colonial-era anti-gay laws.
“The courage that comes with the participation itself cannot be denied, given that Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code deems a same-sex sexual relationship an ‘unnatural offence’ punishable by a 10-year jail term,” said mid-day.com, a popular Indian newspaper.
Earlier, speaking on anti-gay discrimination in India, Divgikar said: “Why can’t they accept us the way we are, and allow us to keep our individuality intact? We don’t impose our preferences on them, so why do they have to impose their preferences on us,” he asked.