Sushant Divgikr ‘Spell Bound’ As He Becomes 1st Indian to Perform at Dragcon, Calls It ‘Massive Win’

While the LGBTQ+ community has found its space in mainstream media, culture and art forms today, the drag culture is still under-represented in India. But Sushant Divgikr, popularly also known as Rani Ko-HE-Nur, became the country’s first drag queen to rise to eminence, blaze the trail and familiarised many with the drag culture. After featuring on the debut season of Queen Of The Universe, an international drag queen singing competition and a spin-off of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Sushant is all set to become the first Indian to ever represent the country at Dragcon in the UK in January 2023. For the unversed, RuPaul’s DragCon is an annual expo of drag culture held in Los Angeles billed as a convention that celebrates the art of drag, queer culture and self-expression.

In an exclusive chat with News18, he opens up on representing India globally and what this international exposure means to him. “I am spell bound. I am still trying to process this information. This is going to be my first showing at Rupaul’s Dragcon in London and the second consecutive appearance and performance. I was there for the conference and show in Los Angeles in mid-2022,” he says.

For him, this feat will prove to be a major watershed moment for the queer community in India. Talking about it, an excited Sushant remarks, “I think this is not just a big personal win but also a massive win for the Indian drag and LGBT+ community. I am so happy that I get to show my country’s culture and vast cultural heritage on one of the biggest and grandest stages for artistes around the world.”

So, how’s the preparation for his performance going on? “I am super thrilled. I’ve been preparing and can’t tell you how excited I am to get to perform on the main stage of the main event of such a fabulous and one of a kind celebration of art!” says Sushant, who was listed as one of GQ’s 50 Most Influential Young Indians of 2018 and Forbes 30Under30 Asia in 2020.

Quiz him about the outfit he will be donning at the event and without divulging much details, he states, “I will be staying true to my desi roots for my performance and about the outfits, although I cannot reveal much, but is it too late now to say sari?”

Though he’s elated with the opportunity that has come his way, he rues not having a queer icon to look up as a child, and so, he intends to set a precedent for young members of the community today. “I did not have anyone in the performing arts to look up to from within the queer community. Therefore, I decided to become that public figure that today’s queer youth could look at and feel represented. I do this for the love of art, yes! But also majorly because the LGBT+ community also needs people and artistes that they can hold close to their hearts and feel represented by,” he elaborates.

Sharing a message for the queer youth, he says, “I just want to tell every young queer person and especially transgender people that you are not alone and you are not wrong for being you. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!”

Though Indian films have now begun to include themes pertaining to the queer community, Sushant believes that makers and creators should be extremely cautious about portraying these characters on-screen and not incorporate sexual and gender diversity just as appropriation. “I think we need to be mindful about the damage we do by misrepresenting my community in the mainstream and just like it is not okay to appropriate culture and demean religion, race, caste, etc in films, similar stances should be taken with regards to gender and orientation of a person,” he asserts.

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