Darshan Mandhana, Rahul Pujari and Saiganesh Krishnamoorthy are the Top 3 contestants of MGWI 2017.
Here is an account of how these men came so far, their struggles, coming out, their careers, lifestyle, passions and their activism. Their motive is common; which is not just to win the competition, but to create awareness in the country.
1. DARSHAN MANDHANA
Darshan Mandhana is a 31 year old Human Resources professional from Mumbai.
He has carved his way through all the adversities to become an open gay person to his friends, colleagues and his conservative family. This journey has enabled him to understand the pain of being an open gay man in India and has strengthened him to stand up for who he is and what he believes in. Although He has come a long way, his roots are from Jaysingpur, a small town in South Maharashtra and that keeps him grounded.
Darshan Mandhana’s story is nothing short of a Bollywood flick. From being homeless in Mumbai to going to doctors who misled his parents implying that he could be cured, he has seen it all. “Going to hundreds of psychologists and endocrinologists just makes your life hell. Through the competition, I want to tell the youth who are struggling to come out, that it will be fine. It gets better,” says the 31-year-old who works at a retail firm.
Mandhana’s coming out confession came as a shock to his parents. “I don’t blame them at all. It was a natural reaction, but now they have slowly started accepting me, and my partner as well,” he says. After a few months, however, Mandhana came to Mumbai.
For this Worli resident, however, things completely changed when he met his partner. “We have been in love since the past four years, and had it not been for him, I wouldn’t have got the courage to participate in the pageant. For us, it’s less about the competition and more about making India a safer place for the community,” he said.
Passionate about Painting, Dancing & Swimming, He believes strongly in faith and change. His belief is that when each of us shed the hurtful labels that have kept us in the closet and start accepting and respecting ourselves, the world will do the same.
2. ROHAN PUJARI
Rohan Pujari is 30 years old from the coast of Arnala beach, Virar, Mumbai. Rohan works with The Humsafar Trust (HST) which is India’s first registered LGBTQ organization. The B.Com graduate, who came out of the closet seven years ago, has been a part of the Humsafar Trust for five years and works in advocacy and online outreach programmes for the Trust.
He has spread awareness based on safer sex practices and promoted HIV testing among LGBTQ community . He currently works as a Media Officer. and goes through media articles related to the LGBTQ community and sensitized media (print and electronic) persons for positive coverage.
His favorite past times include swimming, listening to music, traveling and making new friends, he loves working out in the gym , is a dog lover and he also loves to dedicate his free time towards LGBT equality and empowerment by participating in community events.
Rohan Pujari has admits being bullied and threatened during his growing up years. Hailing from an orthodox south Indian family, and being the only son, coming out wasn’t easy for Pujari. “My parents didn’t speak to me for days. My mom would said, ‘Forget all this and get over it.’ She was in denial for a long time, but I knew at the end of the day, what I was,” says Pujari.
In the Virar-Vasai belt, everyone thinks that gay means transgender men. People would come and say absurd things. Nobody would want to be my friend , but the same people came and apologised later,” said Pujari.
3. SAIGANESH KRISHNAMOORTHY
Saiganesh Krishnamoorthy just completed his Master’s in Quantitative Finance from VU University (Amsterdam, The Netherlands) and shall begin work as a consultant for the cyber advisory division of a Big 4 firm from March. He also holds an engineering degree in computer science and worked in India prior to this.
His interest in championing the cause of LGBT rights began somewhere in 2015 when he witnessed the freedom that some of the western countries enjoy. He wants to create a more inclusive society where the LGBT can be themselves without getting judged/isolated, initiating a path of acceptance rather than tolerance.
He hopes to one day wake up to a world that’s free from judgement and bias – the world where we need no coming-out days, and where diversity is seen as a positive trait and not as an anomaly.
He speaks Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, English and Dutch. He likes to cook, write, bike, travel and dance ballet or Bharatnatyam when he is not watching sci-fi shows. He loves to talk about the unspoken and the unknown and make the world a more interesting place.
The Judge panel of MGWI 2017 for the finale at Feb 10th.
1. Deepak Kashyap ( Psychologist, certified life-skills trainer and writer)
2. Urvashi Dholakiya (Actress)
3. Christina Bharwani (The Brand Ambassador & Director of Gourmet Renaissance( F&B partners for prestigious events like IPL Femina Miss India, Miss Diva, Pro-Kabbadi League, ISL)
4. Harish Iyer (Equal Rights Activist)
5. Maya Pereira Sawant( young entrepreneur, Owner of Lean Kitchen, health bar and gym an organic food company )
6. Suveera (fashion stylist)
The finale of the competition will be held on Feb 10 in Mumbai. The winner will compete with men from all over the world in Mr. Gay World 2017, which is to be held in Spain on 5-10 May this year.