The Giligan’s was packed on 9th March. This restaurant which usually serves shoppers from the connecting Robinson Mall was closed for a few hours to house the 24 delegates of Mr Gay World 2011. Sadly, I was told that the gorgeous Mr Gay Argentina among Mr Gay Iceland, Mr Gay Chile and Mr Gay Thailand had withdrawn from the pageant at the last minute. Cameras flashed at the two opposite rows of delegates, who were officially introduced in person to the media at the press conference.
On the next two days, their team spirit were tested during the outdoor activities at Villa Escudero and Outreach at Gawad Kalingan, and their brain and brawn will be judged on the grand finale show at Club Mwah! on 13th March. Before the competition gets tougher, I caught up with some of the delegates to tell me more about themselves. Also, I chatted with the past winners on how their life had changed after Mr Gay World.
Mr Gay Curacao, Rupert Arrindell, 27, Chief Communication Manager How did you come out?
My father asked me if I were gay when I was 15 with a bottle of wine when he caught me viewing gay websites. He was watching over my shoulders but I think it’s a parent’s duty. I’m very happy that he’d asked me if I were gay. It was easier like that. I think everyone should have a coming out like that. It saves you the trouble of doing it yourself. My mother is Dutch and my father is educated in Europe. They are open-minded. I have two brothers, the youngest brother loves to go to the parties that I organize.
Trivia: Rupert has started adoption procedures and within 3 years, he’ll be able to adopt a child himself. At present, he’s the god-father to his best friend’s children. He was proposed before he got on the plane. “I’m not really sure how I’m going to do it,” he says.
His favorite delegate: Mr Gay Australia, Leigh Kenneth Charles
Rupert’s word of wisdom: “There’s more to a person than who he likes and who he sleeps with”
Mr Gay Estonia, 30, Madis Raastas who describes himself as twenty plus
How did you come out?
I came out during a TV show. I was like a public gay in Estonia.
What was the most frightening thought that came to your mind when you first discovered you were gay?
I was 18 when I discovered I'm gay. I denied that but I kind of understood. I didn't know what to do with that. I didn't have manual with me like being gay, ok instruction, you must like men, you should go to gay men. It was all like a big discovery. It wasn't the fear. It just ended up with the first guy who said I love you in a night club and you go for it and bang, you're gay the next morning.
Did the schools in Estonia offer education on homosexuality?
We have them all. If you don’t have experience with that, you don’t know what’s that. You can say that you can sing and dance but the moment you’re on the stage, you know you can dance or not.
Do you think that gay kids together are able to manage their fear better?
It depends on where you’re. If you’re come in a small place and you’re alone, it’s definitely harder. When you’re in big cities, you find your own kind easily – no matter whether they’re good or bad. It’s like the Christina Aguerilla moment in Burlesque where she goes to the big cities and find her soul mate.
You mentioned about your proposed wedding cake with 2 gay men on top for your school project was banned. Were you openly gay in vocational school?
Come on. Don’t tell me your mother didn’t know you’re gay. There are always signs. They know they’re there but as long as they don’t say them loud, you don’t say out loud. I wanted to do something different”
Any personal favorite delegate?
No. This is my fourth beauty pageant and people don’t look like they’re in the picture.
How about pick one based on their photos?
“You’re torturing me now… you make me think. Ok. Aaron of New Zealand.
Madis words of wisdom: I was different then but I didn’t know I was different. If you don’t what ‘s going on in your head, the lesser you know what’s going on in other people’s head.
Mr Gay Peru, Lorenzo Rojas, 41, Spanish language teacher, actor/model, former contemporary dancer
What kind of dancing are you into?
I did cotemporary dancing and I did gymnastic from 8 to 14. When I started my career in contemporary dancing, I mixed gymnastic into contemporary dancing.
Your parents were against your career as a dancer at first. Was it before or after they knew you were gay?
I came out when I was 16 so it was long before my dancing career.
Have their objection anything to do with the stereotype on male dancers?
In south America, men are not allowed to play volleyballs. Dancers and hairdressers are profession for gays. Once you’re there, you’re gay. They said something like ‘you’re gay and now you want to dance, what do you want us to do?’ After watching my performances, they were impressed. They’ve all my videos. Now, they’re my best friends.
His personal favorite
The guy from New Zealand (Aaron) is so sweet and he’s beautiful inside out.
Mr Gay Australia, Leigh Kenneth Charles, 26, Personal Trainer
As a personal trainer, what do you think define a beautiful male body?
I think a natural physique with overall developed muscle group,
What’s your view on the stereotyped gay men being beefy and big?
I think it’s up to each individual person and as long as you’re happy with yourself, that’s what you should really do it for.
How about steroid?
I have never done it and I’ll never do it
Any fitness routine to recommend?
My advice is to get a personal trainer or gym with a person who’s experienced. So often people injure themselves – not necessary immediately but prolonged damage to their body.
My Personal favorite delegate:
Based on their photos, Mr Gay Brazil, Eduardo
Mr Gay World 2010, Charl Van Den Berg
What big changes have there been in your life since winning Mr Gay World last year?
Certainly I’ve been to a lot of different countries and to get to know what being gay is like in their own countries.
You spoke about HIV prevent for the ‘Red Ribbon’ campaign and you’re actively involved in the HIV prevention in the US. Do you think the fear of HIV is lesser now that people can live normally for years before the virus developed into AIDS?
I don’t think that’ll make them less afraid about HIV. It just provide them with a better understanding and be open about It, they can live their life (normally) not thinking that it’s going to kill them.
Which is better: Abstinence from sex or safe sex practices?
Abstinence from sex is not easy but I wouldn’t say it’s impossible. But guys are guys. I’d rather say practise safe sex if you’re going to have multiple partners.
How about between boyfriends?
I think it’s up to them (on practising safe sex). I can’t tell them what to do.
Do you think a campaign that instills fear of HIV and strikes terror into people’s heart is going to be effective?
Education is based not on fear but knowledge. You can enlighten people about it. They’ll be more open to discuss about it. But if it became a fear people don’t want to talk about it.
Your favorite books are by authors like Paulo Coelho and Eckhart Tollle. Are you very philosophical in your daily life?
I’m a thinker. I think a lot but I also ask a lot of questions. I don’t just believe what people tell me; I rather go and read about it and find out for myself. In that aspect, I think I’m a bit more philosophical. I like reading about things that make you think and to know more bout them.
Carlos Melia, Mr Gay World 2008 wears many hats: He’s travel writer, blogger and agent, a gay advocate and the Director of Mr Gay World, South/Central America, the Caribbean and Mexico
Being Mr Gay World 2008 has taken you to places. Has your title helped you a lot for your travel business?
Yes. The exposure that I got is something that I can never do on my own. After winning that day, I was in the news and on the cover all over the world.
Is your business now working with any charitable organizations that benefit the GLBT community?
Not with one particular but I work with different charity all over the world. Even though the commissions for travel agent is getting lower and lower, I’ll give a percentage of my profits to charity from the money that the gay community invested in my business. Not just gay charity but also mainstream charity.
With over 20 years of travelling experiences, how did you fall in love with the travel business?
Travelling has been in my blood because my father and brothers are pilots – most of them. So I’d travelled extensively all over the world since I was born.
Can you remember which is the first country you’ve travelled to and when was that?
The first country I travelled to was Australia, Sydney when I was five or six years old.
That was long before you knew what Mardi Gras was, isn’t it?
Yes. But I knew I was gay when I was 3 year old. I was in love with my teacher
He must be very handsome.
He was he was [chuckles]
You’ll be travelling to HK after this. What other Asia countries do you think has a big potential as a gay holiday destination?
The typical one is Thailand of course. I think the Japanese are entering the gay market. They are bit more upscale while the Thai’s are more cultural. People going to Thailand are going for resort and beaches. I heard the Japan Airline is opening a division to promote and reach the gay community.
I’m from Singapore. Do you know much of the gay scene here?
Never been to Singapore and I’m dying to go.
Does your travel service only bring tourists to gay places or regular sightseeing places as well?
What I enjoy doing is to bring gay travellers to mainstream destinations with mainstream services. What I like to do is to find those businesses or destinations that are gay friendly and welcome the gay community without being gay.
What it takes to be your tour guide?
I always work with local people who want to promote their country. I’m looking for someone who has experience of course.
Now that you’ve an office in New York, do you live there or somebody else manages the office?
I’m now based in NYC but I always travel between Argentina and New York.
What gay venues in New York City would you recommend?
I don’t go out that much… I only like to go to special events or parties. Maybe, Studio 57 at Hell Kitchen.
You wear so many hats in life. Do you even have time for relationship?
I have a boyfriend in New York. We met in NYC.
Who are your top 3 favorites delegates?