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‘Parents Are Starting Points To Help Kids Flourish’, Sushant Divgikr On Why Family’s Support Matters

Amid Pride Month, SheThePeople spoke to Sushant Divgikr on their journey, regarding the constitutional rights of LGBTQA+, and inclusivity in education and employment. Divgikr has been working as an artist for over a decade, and their journey has come a long way.

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Snehal Mutha
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Sushant Divgikar ,Transgender clinic inaugurated by Sushant Divgikr
Despite awareness and sensitisation programmes on the LGBTQIA+ community thriving, stigmatisation continues to exist. Countries are banning same-sex relationships, the government is opposing gender recognition laws, there is a strong opposition to drag shows, and there are increasing incidents of violence against the community. Sushant Divgikr aka Rani KoHEnur, a drag performer, singer, and staunch LGBTQIA+ activist, shed light on these ongoing issues faced by the community.
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Amid Pride Month, SheThePeople spoke to Sushant Divgikr on their journey, regarding the constitutional rights of the LGBTQIA+ community, and inclusivity in education and employment. Divgikr has been working as an artist for over a decade, and their journey has come a long way.

Sushant Divgikr On Their Journey

While touching on their journey as artists, they said, "It is a continuous journey as an artist, you don’t keep track of things you have done. However, sometimes, when I get a moment to think about it, it is surprising to realise that you did remarkable things, especially when 10 years ago people would not have even thought of it. It feels good that today I can be in front of you as transgender and represent the larger cause of the queer movement in performance art and mainstream cinema."

Highlighting their Bollywood debut, Divgikr emphasised how they waited for 17 years for the first film. According to Divgikr, they received many film offers but rejected them because the roles were condescending. Divgikr is all set, with the debut film slated to release in the second half of the year. Divgikr chose to pick this role because it didn't look sleazy. Divgikr said, "For a long time, the community was not even considered human, and was humiliated on screen. If I do something like this, then how will I expect my community to flourish or see them in a good light? Today, I have a great opportunity to show my talent; there is also another web series releasing this year. Also, I am excited for three other transwomen who will be getting their big break in mainstream cinema this year."

On struggles and challenges, Divgikr said, "Struggles will always be there, but if we keep focusing on them, then we are not concentrating on the present. In the present, I feel so empowered that all the people who tried to break me, might be breaking their heads, they might be thinking I was a good investment. People who thought I may not be able to reach so far, look here representing my community, and my country again and again. The struggle builds character; the struggle makes you a stronger and more well-rounded person. Without struggle, I would not have enjoyed my success and had no value for it. Today, all that struggle has culminated in a product. The times have changed; now you see transgender people as doctors, lawyers, actors, and working in corporate spaces. We need to be at the forefront of this change."

Sushant Divgikr's parents supported them in their struggles and became allies. Divgikr always appreciated their parents for being supportive, standing up for them, and contributing to where they are today.

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Usually, LGBTQA people face backlash from their parents too. Many families are not supportive. Divgikr said, "Parents are an integral part in the development of a child until they become adults. Schools, colleges, and workplaces come later in the picture. My parents supported me, so I am here. Every child needs their parents' support to be who they want to be. Others will help you bring about change. For instance, Procter & Gamble India (P&G) is initiating change by working on inclusivity, be it education or job opportunities. But reaching their parents plays an important role. It is a mix of everything, if the workplace has acceptance and family is problematic, and vice-versa, it won't work. So, it has to be a conducive environment. When all the institutions of society inculcate a sense of belongingness, then only a child or anyone else will flourish."

Recently, Divgikr spoke on similar lines at P&G India's annual #WeSeeEqual Summit. According to them, such conversations on inclusivity create awareness for their employees.

Sushant Divgikr also revealed his opinion on marriage equality and the ban on drag queens in Tennessee.

On marriage equality, Divgikr pointed out that we are a democracy, and our constitution has promised the same rights to everyone. So why not marriage rights? We are a community today because society separated us. We don't have membership cards or something; we have parents, regular jobs, and pay taxes like any other citizen. If everything is the same, why not have marriage equality? In the end, we are all humans. We are not saying anyone should get married to a gay man."

Divgikr believes marriage is a choice. Personally, they don't want to get married. Further, they added, "But tomorrow, if I change my mind, I need the marriage option open. The constitutional morality in a democracy is the highest, you cannot fight that."

On the drag ban, They mentioned that drag performers have been there since ancient times. Indian epics like the Mahabharata and Ramayana have proof of it. Why do people think drag queens don’t exist?

They said,

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"I am today talking to you; isn't that a reality? I will be here and be the best version of myself. If anyone has a problem, then this is their problem, not my problem. If I am dancing in a bar as a drag queen and you don’t like it, don’t come to see us. Even I don’t like men teasing us, so can I tell them to leave the country? No, right, then why this ban on drag performers? We want to live a normal life, but you tag us to live an abnormal life. You want everybody to be like you; if we don't do that, we are isolated."

Sushant Digvikr believes in inclusivity, and educating society is the only roadway to it. According to them, society needs to know that LGBTQA+ people are part of society. Society needs to accept reality, and the community doesn't require their acceptance because they are not authorised to give one.

Digvikr added,

"We don’t go into caves at the end of the day, we too go home and live as humans. Everybody has to be equal, and then only activism will end. I don’t want to wake up every morning raising slogans for rights. We do have a life to live."

Digvikr concluded by giving the message that parents are starting points; if they love their kid irrespective of anything, it is enough for the child to flourish. "Parents, don't think about what your neighbours will say; keep your child first. If you throw them out of the house, society is already there to throw more challenges at them. Don't forget, without a child, you are just a man and a woman. If parents give birth to a child, the child too gives birth to parents."


Suggested Reading: US Teacher Sent On Leave For Discussing Sexual Pleasure In Class: Isn't Sex-ed Priority?

Sushant Divgikr pride month
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