On March 22, 2021, India got its first gay actor who won the national film award for his stellar performance on-screen.
Scripting history, Benjamin Daimary became the first openly gay actor to bag the coveted award. He was bestowed with the jury's special award for his role in the Assamese film Jonaki Porua(Fireflies).
Born and brought up in Goreswar town in Assam's Baksa district, Daimary had never imagined living the life he has earned for himself after overcoming several setbacks. Figuring out the way to fit into society has been a challenge in itself for Dairmary since childhood.
As an introverted kid, it hadn't been smooth sailing for him to reach where he is today.
"From the very beginning since my childhood, when we humans tend to know our feelings, I knew I was different. However, I wasn't aware of the word LGBTQ, I was extremely young for that word," Dairmary recalled while speaking exclusively to The Logical Indian.
Also, in the early 2000s, people would not usually talk about gays and lesbians," he commented.
Besides winning a national award, the 20-year-old actor has also been nominated for the best actor category in the 2021 Indian Film Festival of Melbourne for his debut film.
Prominent actors like Rajkumar Rao, Pankaj Tripathi, Harish Khanna among others are also on the list for the same category. He also works as a makeup artist in the Assamese fashion industry.
From A Shy Kid To Becoming An Actor
Daimary shared that it was during 2012, he started spending time researching about sexual orientation and gender identities. He understood himself, his identity, and his preferences. In 2014, decided to be open about it.
"I knew my behaviour was feminine, but I didn't tag myself as gay. After I was sure about it, it was such a happy feeling that I can't describe. I didn't have to hide it anymore, at least from myself," he said.
Despite his family being very supportive, Daimary said he was subjected to bullying by other people from his community. "Initially, things would have an impact on my mind, but after 2014 I didn't care about anything," he said.
Daimary explained that travelling places for work and joining workshops for dramas helped him cope with his shyness and helped him to open up about his personality.
"I was shy because didn't want to get bullied by people. I used to think that if I talk to someone, they will learn about my sexuality and make fun of me," he said.
The young actor describes his journey in the film industry as a pure coincidence. "I never thought about films because being in front of the camera meant one had to be tall, dark, handsome, I believe. I had a feeling that I might not be good for the camera. I considered myself more as a drama or theatre artist," Daimary said.
"Winning a national award was an 'Oh My God' feeling because I never expected it. I can't say it was a dream because I never dreamt about it. It was a feeling I can't imagine and explain," he added.
The actor is currently shooting for an Assamese web series which will be aired soon. In addition, he has been auditioning for various Bollywood projects and hopes to get a break in the mainstream industry.