Guwahati: From a shy kid to India’s first openly gay actor to win a National Award, Benjamin Daimary had never envisioned the life he is living now. He has also been nominated in the best actor category in the 12th Indian Film Festival of Melbourne 2021 for his role in the Assamese film Jonaki Poruwa (Fireflies). Names such as Pankaj Tripathi, Rajkummar Rao, Harish Khanna, Suriya, Jitin Puthanchery, Koumarane Valavane and Neel Deshmukh have also been nominated in the same category.

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Benjamin describes himself as an introverted kid growing up. But travelling to places for work changed his life in the best way possible.

“From the very beginning, I knew I was different. I did not know about gay or LGBTQ, but I knew I was different. Before 2014, I was shy and an introvert. But when I started learning acting, I realised I did not need to be an introvert if I am gay, I can be an extrovert too. I did not need to hide,” he told EastMojo.

“From the age of sixteen, I started travelling alone because of my work. I feel like travelling makes you a strong person. I started accepting myself as a feminine gay. People do not accept feminine gays easily. Though gay, they expected me to be masculine. But I accepted myself the way I am.”

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Benjamin had portrayed the role of a transwoman (Jahnu) in Jonaki Poruwa. The positive feedback, nominations and multiple awards for his first time as an actor took Benjamin some time to sink in. Speaking about his journey in front of the lens, he said, “I never thought I would ever face the camera in my life. I never thought I would do a film. It was terrifying, but I have learnt a lot of things. My director was good. He taught me a lot of things that I had never experienced or faced before.”

Benjamin feels lucky that his family accepted his sexual orientation but has to still deal with the bully culture.

“If their comments are deep about my sexuality, I ask them what’s their problem. Am I bothering you by being gay? Am I hitting on you? Just go on your path, let me go on mine. Just clear the path.”

“People think I have an attitude problem. When I enter a room, I don’t speak to people first. After all, I don’t want to make someone uncomfortable because I am gay. I cannot hide, but at the same time, I do not want someone to feel uncomfortable because of my presence. So, I don’t say hello first because the other people might be homophobic. So, people naturally think I am arrogant, but if you get to know me, I am free and frank.”

Benjamin is currently working on an Assamese web-series. He has also been auditioning for Bollywood projects and is hopeful of landing a good film very soon.

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