Ashish Chopra is the 1st runner-up of Mr. Gay India 2018. He works as an HR in Amazon and besides that, does modeling as a side hustle. The journey in itself began in 2018 when he wanted to participate for Mr. Gay India. But as the finances for the pageant were a little high it was difficult for him to participate. But his colleagues arranged money and encouraged him to go forward with the competition. After that, a lot of newspapers started covering his story and he received much limelight through it. He was also there in an MTV show called Elevator Pitch which was a quick dating show. Ashish also has a very small guest appearance in Made In Heaven season 2.
His mother was very supportive throughout his journey. She always was very encouraging and motivating to pursue whatever Ashish wants to do in his life. But his dad was a little hesitant about his participation in Mr. Gay India.
My dad did not like my sexuality being known to everyone. When there were newspaper articles on my coming-out story and my journey, he didn’t like it at all. He was like why do I want to expose my private life out loud into the world. He was not comfortable with it. I and my father do not really talk about my sexuality, he knows about it but we do not have a conversation about it at all.
Being a very social person Ashish loves hosting and attending parties. He loves dancing as well. He was an introvert before participating in Mr. Gay India as he was a shy person. But after that competition, things changed completely for him. Now he considers being a complete extrovert who is not shy and rather enjoys socializing with people.
He has not any kind of constructive criticism as such but rather all criticism has been because of the beauty standards that society has set for people.
I don’t think models have to be 6 feet tall or super muscular every time. All these standards set by society sometimes become a big hindrance in our path. I don’t want to see how a particular piece of cloth will look at a well-built, muscular model but rather I would like to see how it would look at common people like us. Due to all these assigned beauty standards, a lot of people do not get the opportunity that they deserve.
Talking about his own brand that he started, which is called as BeUnic. It is an online marketplace for LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs. In BeUnic, they do not have any kind of beauty standards when they search for a model. They assign a model irrespective of their color, height, sexuality, body weight, etc. All they need to do is be confident in front of the camera.
Ashish used to feel very dejected and demotivated when people rejected him because of these beauty standards in their heads in which he did not fit in. That made him really sad.
I thought about going to the gym and work on myself to fit into those beauty standards. But then I realized that maybe I should not as I am comfortable with my body type. Rather it is more important to change people’s perception than changing myself, that is more important according to me.
Some people used to ask Ashish that if he is transgender. That was highly concerning for him, as even in this 21st century people are not properly aware of the LGBTQ+ community. So he tried to help people understand the difference and people started supporting him. He personally has never faced any sort of discrimination because of what he identified himself as. After getting into a conversation and making people understand all of them were quite supportive.
Discrimination, according to him, is not getting equal treatment and opportunities as others. Specifically due to something which no one has control over like height, color, or sexual preference.
During the pageant, I was a very introverted person. So, it was quite scary for me as I always thought that maybe I am not good enough for this platform. I never have walked on a ramp or performed in front of 100 people. Additionally, there were also a lot of celebrities which made me more nervous. So it was a bit intimidating for me. I could not be myself because I was very scared and nervous. But after I got the second position, everything changed completely for me. I became more confident and extroverted.
He is very inspired by Sushant Divgikr. He is a person whom Ashish looks up to. Sushant Digikar represented India in Mr. Gay World 2014 and won various special awards there. He also looks up to the director and writer Faraz Arif Ansari.
He really hates it when in India, LGBTQ+ people do not receive protection from any form of discrimination. When these people are unfairly fired, denied housing, or be turned away from public spaces because of who they identify themselves as. All these things really boil his blood when LGBTQ+ people are denied basic necessities and opportunities that they deserve.
I believe that all these laws are made by heterosexual people in power. That is why it is important for people from our community to get into politics. Representation from our community is really bad starting from politics to media. It should grow and we need to get more opportunities and exposure. Although the queer representation in movies is slowly changing, still a lot of changes are the need of the hour.
According to Ashish, social media is changing the conversation now. People are getting more aware of body positivity and how much it is important to love your own body type. People are also getting educated about various social issues, things are being sensitized now. Although, if a fat person posts a shirtless picture then they are getting a lot of hate comments which might affect their mental stability but at least the conversation is starting now. People are being aware of how wrong body shaming is.
Modeling has made me a lot more confident and happier. It also helped me to voice my opinion as well as get rid of my shyness. I changed completely as a person after stepping into Mr. Gay India. I believe that people should stop doubting themselves. Everyone is beautiful in their own way. Everyone is amazing the way they are.