I have been very honoured to spend the last few days in the company of the twelve delegates of Mr Gay World Southern Africa.
Like everyone else, I saw their pictures first, and apart from Juan Pinnick whom I met in Knysna when he won Mr Mardi Gras, the rest were unknown to me. We got to know them a little when they were interviewed for GaySA Radio, and one could put a voice to the face. It was interesting to hear what they spoke about and how they interacted with our presenter, Marinette Coertzen, who presents Rainbow Talk every weekday between 12 and 3 pm.
Getting to know them in person from Saturday till now has been a revelation. I have seen them in various situations while doing different tasks. I saw who helped carry luggage and assist the organisers, who were courteous and polite, and who was self-involved. I saw them taking a million selfies and promote themselves on social media, and I saw who did not make that much effort.
We started at the stylish Protea Hotel Manor in Hatfield where they underwent orientation. Joining me was Gavin Hayward of the Exit Newspaper. He got them talking about when they first realised they were gay. It was here that we started getting some insights into the various personalities and heard their stories. Some of these were stories we had heard from many people before, while some were heartbreaking and really moving. It was during this session that a few of the delegates started making an impression and some did not.
Next, we moved to Rustenburg to the beautiful Protea Hotel Hunters Rest. It was here that personalities started shining through and where some of the more interesting challenges took place. The guys did a number of photo shoots, workshops, and challenges. The yummiest moment for me was when they were in their Niku swimwear at the pool.
We went to Sun City Valley of the Waves where we spent the morning on another photo shoot, and then we were treated to a 6km Segway drive around the golf course, sponsored by Segway Guided Tours. Going on a Segway was on my bucket list, so it certainly was a highlight of the past few days and definately worth doing!
The most revealing moment of the week so far for me was when I had the opportunity to have a long, individual interview with each and every one of the delegates. I made it as hard as I could, taking a different angle with each of them. I really grilled them. Some coped well, some got lost, some were articulate, some had very little to say, some impressed me very much. You can listen to these interviews on GaySA Radio or if you missed it, find it on Mixcloud or on our podcast site.
After a quick stop at Riverbend Cottages on the way back, visiting the delightful Werner Kempf, we are now at the Protea Hotel Central. Here the guys did the formal photo shoot, while furiously rehearsing for Saturday’s Grand Finale.
The tension is building and while some guys have certainly proven their mettle, it is still anybody;s race. Gavin and I are writing reports on our experiences, but in the end, it will be up to the panel of judges to make the final decision. I do not envy them their task. You of course can still vote for your favourite.
Meanwhile, Lina, the international artist is arriving today. There are several workshops still to be held, including one by Dale Pudney of the Shambala Organisation, and another on sexual health. It’s going to be a busy few days till we get to the moment when the winner is announced. Of course next week you can listen to GaySA Radio for interviews with organisers, audience members, sponsors and of course the winners.
I am so glad that GaySA Radio is a part of this event. Getting to know the delegates has been a highlight and we are looking forward to the weekend.
There are still a handful of tickets available at Computicket, and you have to be quick to grab them before they are all gone. I certainly hope to see you there and even interview you to find out what you think of this event and the hunky guys!
Meanwhile, let me share our Exclusive Pictures taken by the very talented Corlett du Preez.