Mr Gay New Zealand 2016 Crowned This Sunday
Mr Gay New Zealand 2016 Crowned This Sunday
EIGHT DIVERSE FINALISTS BATTLE IT OUT - MEET THEM
The field for this year's Mr Gay New Zealand title is as diverse as the community it represents.
Amongst the finalists, this year are two representatives from the South Island, a teen that had attempted suicide, a man that overcame weight issues and a Brazilian that now calls New Zealand home.
• Four finalists born in other countries
• Six finalists that grew up in country towns and faced homophobia
• Broad range of occupations from a Journalist, Actor, Barista through to a landscaper and a student.
The finalists of the 2016 Mr Gay New Zealand competition have been preparing all week for the final judging which will happen on Sunday at the official LYC Big Gay Out public event at Auckland's Coyle Park, Pt Chevalier.
The 2016 version of the Mr Gay New Zealand competition has been revitalised this year with a list of eight finalists named and a move towards diversity and equality rather than a beauty contest.
Mr Gay New Zealand 2015 and now Producer of the Mr Gay New Zealand contest Matt Fistonich said this year’s competition has seen a record number of entrants.
“As far as I am aware there have never been as many applicants for Mr Gay New Zealand in its seven-year history,” said Fistonich.
“Not only are we seeing a record number of applicants, we are also seeing a large number of people apply from outside the Auckland region, including applicants from Wellington, Palmerston North, and Napier.”
Fistonich won last year’s title and represented New Zealand at the Mr Gay World Final in Cape Town, this year's winner will take off to Malta in April.
Fistonich was keen to re-shape the event this year, making it more public and invite applicants that will show attributes such as leadership, communication and their ability to engage with the wider LGBTI community.
“I believe the Mr. Gay New Zealand competition is a great opportunity for people to get involved in and support the LGBTI community in New Zealand and around the world.”
“The Mr. Gay New Zealand platform provides kiwis with a fantastic opportunity to not only challenge themselves mentally, but help them build confidence, meet new people, learn new skills, and help in their personal development.”
"We are so happy that this year we have got such a broad and diverse range of finalists."
MEET THE FINALISTS
Paolo Amante - 22 - Auckland - Was born in the Philippines and moved to Auckland with his family in 2006. The struggle to come out as gay is behind his decision to enter as well as his struggle to get over his weight issues.
Jacob Angus - 18 - Auckland - As a 16-year-old who had just come out to his family, Jacob Angus decided that as soon as he turned 18 he would apply to be Mr Gay New Zealand. Fast forward two years and Jacob has achieved the first stage of his dream, he is a finalist and he is very excited.
Vinicius Galioli - 19 - Auckland - Brazilian-born he believes the Mr Gay New Zealand competition is a great way to change attitudes towards the LGBTI community and other cultures which he has seen first hand.
Aaron Gordon - 29 - Auckland - Believes his volunteer work within the LGBTQI community is one thing that will set him apart when it comes to being judged for the 2016 Mr Gay New Zealand competition.
William Hartley - 19 - Palmerston North - Wants to use his position to push for further LGBTI equality and is excited about the opportunity of representing his region of the country at the final.
Bernard Lee - 29 - Wellington - Moved here from Borneo in 2009, he won the 2015 Mr Gay Wellington competition and now sets his sights on the 2016 Mr Gay New Zealand competition following another year of working with diverse charity groups.
Jackson Taylor - 28 - Auckland - Former Canadian who now lives in Auckland only came out as gay three years ago after being brought up in an extremely religious family and being bullied by country town locals for being gay.
Sam White - 24 - Balclutha - Hopes that the Mr Gay New Zealand competition will give him the chance to shine a light on LGBTI issues in small towns and help him become a role model for others facing these issues.
Mr Fistonich said the 2016 New Zealand competition mirrors many of the attributes that are tested in the Mr. Gay World competition and this new competition will give the local winner an edge when heading to Malta.
“The competition gives kiwis a unique opportunity to put themselves at the forefront and encourage acceptance, inclusion and understanding for one another. As a nation we must not become complacent, we must continue to educate and encourage a positive change for equality throughout the world,” explained Fistonich.
“My time as Mr Gay New Zealand 2015 has opened many doors, and given me the chance to gain a greater understanding of the wide range of challenges and issues that face members of the LGBTI community around the world.”
As part of the competition, there is a public voting aspect which is currently underway and closes at 5 pm on Saturday. Anyone can vote by going to www.mrgaynewzealand.com.
The finalists will be on and off stage throughout the day on Sunday with the winner being crowned later that afternoon.
The Judges for this year's competition are Tamati Coffey, Central Auckland MP Nikki Kaye, Cabaret performer and human rights activist Medulla Oblongata, and the current Mr. Gay New Zealand Matt Fistonich.
Mr Gay New Zealand 2016 is sponsored and supported by LYC and the New Zealand AIDS Foundation, The Tanning Room, Les Mills, and eikonline.com.