Colors of Courage: Sushant Divgikar aka Rani Ko-HE-Nur shares his experiences with drag as an art form

Sushant Divgiker wears many hats as a drag queen, psychologist, actor, model, and singer. They were crowned Mr Gay India 2014 and are well known for their outspoken support for the LGBTQIA community. Sushant, who was born and raised in the outskirts of Mumbai, started his career with youth TV channels and quickly built a niche for himself through his vibrant social media presence and diverse opinions.

“Growing up we were bullied, punched, touched in places we shouldn’t have been, abused. At this point in life, I’m still being called names, so imagine someone from a small town. What should happen to them? Sushant admits that even as a child, he knew how to protect himself. He beat anyone who said anything unparliamentary to him as a form of self-defense. Unfortunately, there are still children who cannot protect themselves and he wants to encourage them to come out and ask for help.

Speaking about how trans people are perceived in society, Sushant says, “Everyone thinks we are all on the streets selling our bodies or begging. This is by far what you’ve seen in the movies. Maybe by now you must have seen 1 or 2 movies with better representation that also isn’t with a trans person. But why do people always think that we are always on the streets or just selling our bodies or just begging. Because it’s been conditioned for us to believe.

Sushant urges all parents to accept their children as they are: “When people say you know it’s very hard for parents to understand, it shouldn’t be, because you are their child, you don’t You are not their straight or gay child or a male child or transgender child You are their child first and everything else should come later and that makes you a good parent And they did not choose to be born from you, you chose one day that you wanted to have a baby and now it’s the baby you need to take care of, it’s called becoming an adult, ”he adds.

“My parents have been absolutely amazing, as my mom goes everywhere with me and my dad will always ask me where I go and this and that,” Sushant begins, explaining that his parents raised him to the best of their abilities.

Sushant admits he faced countless obstacles in his career due to his sexual identity, however, he didn’t let that stop him. Divgikar participated as a drag queen in the country’s singing competition, Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, which aired on national television in 2018 – the same year India’s Supreme Court struck down the Section 377 law, which criminalized homosexuality. He confesses, “Rani Ko-HE-nur was born in a nightclub, in Kitty Su and was born because the owner of the hotel is now my cross-dressing mother.”

“They called me one day and said I heard you were doing very well and you should come. I was like ‘Theek hai. Paise mil rahe hai na? It’s not just an exhibition na.. I get money? He said ya ya please come please raise the bill. It was after this show that Sushant’s personality was recognized and acclaimed.

Rani-Ko-HE-Nur was born after Sushant was offered a drag show with one of the world’s most famous drag queens. When they did this show, they saw a lot of people moved to tears by their singing and acting, and they found out that his drag image was much more than meets the eye. It’s not just about cosmetics, hair and dress. They symbolize much more than just hanging out performance art. “People on social media started saying we were waiting. I was like now I have to do something… ab drag queen ho to rani ho…”

“Rani means queen Wahi bar me naachne wali aaj aapke desh ko represents karegi antarashtriya sthal pe. So, never despise someone where they come from? he declares confidently.

Speaking of the people who built it with their lessons and guidance, Sushant says, “I’m grateful to my mentors, who held my hand through this journey and told me that it doesn’t matter if you’re gay, straight, male, female or transgender; you’re creative, and that’s all that matters. He is very happy that he was able to succeed because he believed in himself and didn’t let rejection deter him.

As an eclectic performance artist, Sushant aspires to advance art without boundaries. He hopes people will stop focusing on the genre, but focus on people’s artistic ability.

Also Read: Colors of Courage: Biologically Born Male Transgender Activist Ritz Aher Strengthens India’s Trans Community

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