Pune: Vishal Pinjani of Kolhapur Crowned Mr Gay India, Will Now Compete For The World Title In South Africa

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Pune, 6th October 2023: Forty-year-old Vishal Pinjani from Kolhapur was crowned Mr Gay India 2023 and now he will represent the country at the Mr Gay World beauty pageant to be held in Cape Town, South Africa on 27 October 2023. Abhishek Jayadeep, a 25-year-old software developer hailing from Thrissur in Kerala who now works in Pune, was the other finalist. He was awarded the first-ever title of Mr Gay, Kerala & with runner-up title in Mr. Gay India 2023. This event was organized by the Pune-based MIST Foundation at Hotel Radisson Blue Kharadi.

Shyam Konnur founder of MIST LGBTQ+ Foundation, who himself is Mr. Gay India 2020 said the event had been going on online for almost a month. While he was not able to go for the international rounds of the pageant due to the pandemic, he resolved to make the pageant accessible. More than 20 contestants from various states of India have participated in this contest. Vishal & Abhishek performed very well in all the rounds and achieved this success, he added.

The event was evaluated by a diverse panel of judges including Shyam Konnur (Founder – MIST LGBTQ Foundation and Mr Gay World India 2020), Andy Barve (Fashion Stylist), Sonali Dalvi (Transgender Rights Activist), Ankita Mehra (LGBTQ+ Rights Activist), Chaitanya Gokhale (Fashion Choreographer), Sweta Mantrii (Stand-up Comedian) and Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil (LGBTQ+ Rights Activist).


Pinjani, who runs a community-based organization called Abhimaan, was inarguably a favorite of his extensive engagement with community-related issues in his hometown and in the state. “Through this pageant, I would get a chance to highlight the issues of gay men in rural India as issues of the LGBTQ community are often perceived as only urban issues,” said Vishal.

“I came out to my family only this year and some of my friends were even shy to promote me in public. That is the level of stigma we face,” said Abhishek.

The chief guest Manvendra Singh Gohil, the first openly gay prince in India said, “These kind of events are important because they helps bring people of the Indian (LGBTQ+) community on the global platform and represent not just themselves but Indian culture itself.”

Speaking at the event, lesbian activist and corporate professional Ankita Mehra brought attention to the importance of equity in the representation of the community. “Gay men are often more represented than lesbian women or trans women and trans men are even fewer so equity is quite important to work towards.”

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