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Scientist from Kolkata who won Mr Gay World runners up 2018

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Samarpan Maiti from Kolkata has made us proud, not just by winning the runners up at The Mr Gay World contest this year, but by his grit to face this society where LGBT community is still stigmatised. He speaks to Saheli Mitra. We wish him more success in his scientific research and his fight for LGBT rights

• How do you feel after winning second runners at Mr Gay World? Do you think your crown will change the perception of the Indian society towards the LGBT community?

I feel proud that I am able to get my country win at an international platform. This is not just about third gender. This is about awareness and acceptance of every human, irrespective of gender, sexuality or choice of living life. 

• How did you prepare for this competition? A few lines on your feelings, were you apprehensive, scared, happy, excited?

My mental preparation started two years back. Other than the routine fitness regime and being updated of LGBT happenings and issues all over the world, I kept raising the awareness among the country about such issues. I was a bit anxious in the beginning but after getting positive responses from many, I slowly got courage to go ahead with confidence. 

• How was your experience in interacting with international contestants?

It was a great experience to be able to represent my country in an international platform. I got to learn a lot from people with different nationalities. I have received a good support from everyone to help me in projects and spreading awareness for the LGBT community in India. In comparison to India the acceptance is more in the western world. But I would not say that it is hundred percent there. They still go through bullying and non-acceptance. Also, research says that there is still a large amount of homophobia and transphobia in the world.

• You are also a scientist with Institute of Chemical Biology. How have your colleagues and friends responded to your win?

They responded very positively. They are excited for me to return and celebrate the win together. I would receive messages from them regularly about the result of the pageant when I was there. 

• Did you ever feel you are stigmatised at your workplace, family or elsewhere for being gay? If so, please share one or two experiences.

The workplace is not so inclusive of LGBT people. There were issues after I won the title. During my college days, I had to face many homophobic incidents like getting kicked out of my hostel. And I was bullied by my classmates. 

• How do you plan to popularise Gay rights in future and how will this award support your endeavour?

I want to reach people of various strata in the following way: 

a. Reach out to well-educated part of the society through my art, literature and acting. 

b. I want to reach to the underprivileged people through educational awareness activities and projects

c. If I do my social work and my research for the greater benefit of the society then me and my views will be easily accepted by the society as a whole.