#UnCloseted : Sushant Divgikr AKA Rani Ko-He-Nur Opens Up About Being A Drag Queen, His Journey And More
You may have seen him in beauty pageants, or creating quite a stir in the Big Boss house, or even hosting TV shows as an anchor. It doesn’t matter when you saw him first, you will never forget him. For me, it was a very different introduction to him. It was a standard Saturday night in Mumbai, I was out with a friend at Kitty Su, and I had absolutely no idea how I was going to be blown away in less than a few minutes, when Rani Ko-He-Nur took to the stage. A stage name for a person, who has spent nearly 13 years in the entertainment industry and really made a place for himself, it was the first time I saw Sushant Divgikr, look phenomenal in his drag avatar as Rani Ko-He-Nur and take our collective breaths away.
Years later, today as I found myself conversing with him, I realised just how much effort, courage and creativity he has put into himself and his life, to achieve all that he has. Claiming a spot in the Forbes 30 under 30 Asia list as the only drag artist, and making numerous appearances on television and reality shows, Sushant is one of the more dignified and critically acclaimed performing artists and celebrities in the industry. But it hasn’t always been all sunshines and sparkles for him.
And so, as we bring to you another story, that adds to the pride in Pride month, we are excited to unravel the becoming of Sushant Divgikr aka Rani Ko He Nur himself, in his own words who identifies himself as gender fluid and doesn’t mind being referred to as any pronoun, he or she, as long as it’s cute!
Also Read : #UnCloseted: Urzaan Patel’s Coming Out Story Had His Father Thinking ‘This Is Just A Phase’
Coming out of the closet
“Before I first came out, I was extremely stressed because I had planned how the entire coming out story would go, but apparently life had other plans. But in a way, it all happened for the best. My father only got to know because my brother told him about it. He then, like any other guy confronted me and even though it wasn’t typically a confrontation as much as a simple question of whether or not I am gay, it was when I knew I couldn’t lie to him,” shared Sushant as he recalled the moment when we came out to his parents.
Talking about how he never hid that part of his personality ever, he continued sharing how, “I didn’t want to lie and lie and hide one lie with several others. So I admitted and to my surprise, he accepted me with open arms and said how he doesn’t have a problem with it. He told me that I wasn’t his straight child or his gay child, but just his child and that he was always going to love me regardless. There is nothing more I could possibly need to hear from him.”
In that moment and what followed afterwards, Sushant talks about not just feeling liberated but also loved and that he mattered. “Yes I imagined my coming out tale to be all flamboyant and fabulous and as dramatic as are Karan Johar movies, but I feel like my lifestory has been so much better than the depiction of any gay character in any movie thus far. I have had a beautiful time with my parents.”
Being gay and famous
Having spent more than a decade working in the Bollywood and fashion industry in India, where a lot of people more often than not presume it is easy for those coming from the LGBTQ+ community to fit in, Sushant struggled his way in during his early years for even a tiny nod of acceptance by the fraternity. An industry notorious for putting people into boxes. “It took me so many years to create this image that I have today in the community, in the society and in the entertainment industry, where people look at me and go like ‘wow’. Earlier, it would be just them looking at me differently, dismissing me for being gay and just move along.”
“I will admit, it wasn’t easy. But it was in fact my art, my music and my performance and my skills that eventually won their hearts,” as it did ours. And at this point, it was almost as if I could feel Sushant’s voice modulate into a more confident and sassier version, as he went on to speak of his transformation.
“I believe that if someone is being nasty to you, it is because they do not know better. And it becomes our duty to explain and educate them, not get angry at them and lose it. Of course losing it is another way to go about it, but I really don’t know of anyone who let these things get to their heads to actually make it big in their life.” And quite honestly, I couldn’t help but be in complete agreement with him there.
He went on to talk about how the secret to his success was always to try and win people over with his talent and determination, and the fact that you can’t really find a space to sit in a bar when he is performing, is pretty telling of his what he can do with just his voice.
“I’ve always wanted to get into drag for as long as I can think back to. More over because drag has been a part of our culture since beginning of times. It started when women weren’t still allowed to perform and so men had to take up their roles too. So when we make fun of people who perform drag now a days, I would just remind them that everyone from our kings, queens, gods took part in this form of art back in the day and perform. I think to refuse drag is somewhere refusing our history as Indians,” explained Sushant.
Opening up further about how he felt connected to it, he shared, “I realised that I have the male and female energy within me and I thought to put it out there the best way I could. And that is how I came about the drag culture. When I am on stage as Rani, I feel so liberated every time, it feels like I was meant for the stage. It in the true sense, makes me feel complete.”
Heaving a sigh of relief, Sushant leaned back comfortably and started by sharing how it has indeed been a long journey for him, but he would’ve never had it any other way. He credits his struggles, his weathering of ups and downs the reason he is where he is now. Both Rani and Sushant are proud of all that they have managed to achieve with their own hard-work and beliefs.
“I could never be the one who would be okay if his parents just passed on their legacy to him to just carry forward. I wanted to build something of my own. Yes, I may have gone through a lot during the process, a lot of rejection, a lot of insult and not because I was bad at my job, but because I was gay. But it has only made me stronger. Today, nothing makes a dime of a difference to me because you’re not paying my bills,” He said with a confidence and a strength that immediately sets him apart.
To everyone else who is still closeted, he wants to say, “You are a queen. Don’t ever dull your sparkle. You are a beautiful soul, and while your body can leave, your soul is eternal. Do whatever you want to do, make mistakes, laugh or cry, just go and taste the world. Because you will succeed in it, you are multi-faceted. Go out there and slay.”
We are taking notes.
UNCLOSETED is Hauterfly’s stab at covering the coming out stories of people from the LGBTQ+ community. If you’ve a story you want to share, please email us at email@example.com.