Working towards making the world a more inclusive space, says Mr Gay India 2020
Konnur recently bagged the title of Mr Gay India 2020 in the pageant by the same name that took place between January 23 and 25
A 31-year-old Punekar has been working towards creating safe spaces for the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community since the past decade in the country. “I hope to work towards the betterment of the community. That has been my primary focus and I have been taking our initiatives to different cities in India trying to provide a platform for queer art. I have been using these spaces as mediums of sensitisation and awareness of LGBT among the general population of India,” says Shyam Konnur, the managing director of Mist, a LGBT collective.
Konnur recently bagged the title of Mr Gay India 2020 in the pageant by the same name that took place between January 23 and 25. Shyam, who hails from Pune, will now be representing India at the Mr Gay World competition which will be held in Africa.
The pageant winner plans on using the platform in Africa to address issues faced by the community. “In South Africa, I would like to make use of the platform that the world pageant provides to discuss with leaders, from across the globe the challenges the LGBT community faces in India and globally and how the community should help each other out. I hope to come back to the country and hopefully contribute towards uplifting the rights of LGBT individuals in India,”said Konnur.
Speaking about his experience of taking part in Mr Gay India 2020, Konnur says, “The pageant was held at the Lalit Mumbai, over a period of two days where we competed for eight subtitles and the main title. The usual pageantry rounds like photoshoot, talent and national costume along with a written test on LGBT+ community and a community focused panel with community leaders like Harish Iyer, equal rights activist; Shobhna Kumar founder of Queer Ink; Urmi Jadhav a trans rights activist among others, were present, who try to understand our contribution to the LGBT community especially with a focus on the future.”
Mr Gay India is a franchise of Mr Gay World and was formally instituted in 2016 by the national producer Sushant Divgika. It is now in it's fifth year and was organised at The Lalit Mumbai with the support of Keshav Suri foundation. The pageant promotes inclusivity in terms of age and body type and does not discriminate on basis of skin colour, informs Konnur.
“Along with winning the title of Mr Gay India 2020, I also won four other subtitles including people's choice. So, one could say I had quite a fun journey. The pageant pushes one to think about the wider picture and also made me step outside my comfort zone where I ended up doing some dancing and sports as well,” added Konnur.
Konnur is of the opinion that in order to make the society more inclusive, there needs to be more awareness about the community. “If a person is out, and they speak to at least one person in their life, it will make a big difference as that one person will be an advocate for the community,”said Konnur.