Mr Gay SA: 12 Heroes, 1 Dream

VANESSA SMEETS

This time next week, the new Mr Gay South Africa will be crowned at Emperor’s Palace in Johannesburg. In a country that still struggles with sexual identity and where homophobia is still quite prevalent (we read about ‘gay beatings, murders’  and corrective rape on a weekly basis), I asked one of the finalists to share his aspirations, thoughts and comments on the whole experience.

Craig Maggs (25) and I met five years ago, after the whole “Stellenbosch Kissing Saga.” When I met him the first time, he was using another name and afraid to come out. All I could see was a survivor. He has not only survived homophobia, but also a crocodile attack that crushed his dream of becoming a surgeon (Craig lost an index finger in the attack). Today, he stands as an icon of solidarity; hopeful and watchful of a new South Africa that aims to not only accept every race, but also every sexual preference. From chef to personal trainer to writer, who knows where this talented young man will go…

Craig_friendly

IRON MAN: Body of steel, heart of gold. Craig hopes to change the gay community by creating a platform where socials can include fitness and fighting for similar causes. PIC: supplied

QUICK FACTS:

Height: 1.87m
Weight: 90kg
Favourite food: Mum’s lasagna or Portuguese chicken
Favourite quote: “With a single blow of a hammer, you have transferred plans into action.”
Biggest accomplishment: Surviving a crocodile attack at Lake Kariba and learning to accept myself as I am.
Greatest dream/ desires: My greatest desire is to live a life that will be remembered.
Strengths: Compassionate. Resilient. Dependable.
Weaknesses: Terrible liar, I over think things, I don’t trust easily.
Occupation: I work two jobs: I work for an NGO that deals with AIDS and Ebola research during the day and at night I am a waiter at Beefcakes in Illovo (who got me involved in this competition).
Hobbies: Playing sport, keeping fit, gardening, hiking, baking and sleeping.

Craig, you have trained hard to be in the Top 12. The last time I saw you, you were on a broccoli and asparagus diet, trying to reach your target weight and body.
But, tell us, what do wish to accomplish in terms of the competition?
My faith has challenged me to make a stand in order to make a difference to those that are hurting out there, especially those who I can relate to. The lonely, the oppressed, the bullied, the raped and those who have lost their ability to dream. I want to walk alongside them in their journey as a role model and friend. I want to be the reason someone never gave up on life or themselves.

Craig_smile

BEHIND BLUE EYES: Behind his charming smile, lies a BSc degree in Sports Science from Stellenbosch University. Pic: supplied

So, how did you prepare for Mr Gay SA?
Besides going to the gym and a horrible diet (of mostly green veggies), I wanted to broaden my mind. I approached different people and discussed their views on matters. It was incredible to see how differently we see things. I also did a lot of research into the history of gay rights, focusing on icons and how they altered history.

The Top 12 are incredibly diverse, from all over the country. How would you describe the other contestants?
The 12 contestants are incredibly inspiring people. All from different walks of life (from medical to political backgrounds), making us a dynamic team with different approaches and focus points. We have nicknamed ourselves the super 12 with the goal of changing the world around us.

Hmmm… How does Mr Gay SA stand apart from other “beauty” competitions?
Not only do we represent minority groups, we also focus on creating 12 role models, not just one. All twelve people will have a role to play throughout the year not just the winner.

What is your advice to those who wish to compete?
Approach this competition with an open mind and an open heart. It will challenge you and make you grow in ways you never thought possible. But, also be aware that this competition will open your eyes to a very broken world, that may cause you to become depressed if you have the wrong motives. Do it to make this world a better place not for selfish goals. Challenge the norms and be courageous role models to society.

What has been the biggest challenge in this competition?
For me personally the biggest challenge has been the emotional load of seeing so much hurt and need, especially because I can’t do enough to change it.

…And the greatest joy?
The greatest joy would be the message I received from a Zimbabwean friend living in Australia. She told me how she was so impressed on the impact I was making and that I should keep going, no matter how difficult it was.

How has your family and friends reacted to you being part of it?
My family were very concerned, if not disappointed, but have been amazing considering their background. As for my friends, they have been incredibly supportive and have really motivated and carried me all the way!

TOP 12: The finalists had fun and were also trained and mentored by Mr Gay World 2013, Christopher Olwage. PIC: Facebook

TOP 12: The finalists had fun and were also trained and mentored by Mr Gay World 2013, Christopher Olwage (far right). PIC: Facebook

What is your response to the negative feedback on Mamba Online page about you guys?
At first I was shocked and horrified at what people wrote, but now I see it as a challenge. A challenge to prove that this group of 12 heroes is there to be role models for all groups, not just racial or homosexual. We are a team and not individuals.

Now for the competition-type questions…

What is your view on being religious and homosexual? So many people battle and how do they overcome it?
Personally I am a Christian. Jesus said in the Bible: “WHOEVER believes in me shall have eternal life.” (John 5: 24) It doesn’t say “only some people” or “only straight people.” That is what I hold onto.

It is not an easy journey, as often the people of the church are the ones who cause the most hurt for gay people. They tend to ostracize you, judge you or try to change you. But don’t give up faith.

GAY PRIDE: The Top 12 inspired thousands in Cape Town to walk the streets with them, for a better South Africa. PIC: Facebook

GAY PRIDE: The Top 12 inspired thousands in Cape Town to walk the streets with them, for a better South Africa. PIC: Facebook

What do you think SA can do more in terms of LGBTI rights?
South Africa is fortunate to have one of the best constitutions for LGBTI rights in the world. However, it could do a lot more in protecting the people from the homophobia experienced by people in the community. Also, I believe South Africa could also stand up for LGBT rights throughout Africa, like in Uganda and Zimbabwe.

How can we do more in terms of these African neighbours and homophobia?
This is a very delicate issue, because this could make conditions worse for the affected people in those countries. However, we do need to do something! There are too many human rights violations happening to do nothing. Usually, the best way to change situations like this is to change the minds of the young, while they are still open and accepting. Make them question the norms and they will create the positive change. It will take a few brave individuals risking a lot, but a worthwhile cause cannot be left alone.

How can we educate the community more on:

  • corrective rape
  • homophobia
  • LGBTI NGOs
  • “gay media”

I think a good place to start is to build relationships between the LGBTI community and the mainstream media. Yes, often people complain about the involvement of “pink news” but in our day and age, it is becoming more prevalent. This could be highly beneficial to both integration of the LGBTI community, as well as people being able to share their stories that are big issues in society today. For example, corrective rape and homophobia. The first step to solving a problem, is admitting that it exists and raising awareness of it.

This will take concerted effort from the LGBTI community, which needs to work as a team and not individuals.

Craig_gay pride

WALK THE WALK: Craig and the other contestants showed off their ideas and bodies at Gay Pride in Cape Town last month. PIC: supplied

How do plan on using the title if you win?
I have two ideas I would like to develop:
Firstly, the buddy system. Let young LGBTI people interact with people who can serve as role models. Have a small group forum, where they can learn through other peoples experiences.

Secondly, I would like to reintroduce the gay sports’ night where people can interact across age and racial barriers, in a relaxed fun environment. My focus would be raising young leaders and again having the young learn from people with experience.

Anything you’d like to add?
I really think that it’s time the LGBTI community starts to work together towards a common goal, rather than defeat its own purposes.

 

Win with Arcade Empire!

Name SA  bands

WHO’S WHO? Name the missing bands/ musicians performing this Saturday… Copyright on collage: Vanessa Smeets/ selected pics off Net.

So, you can’t make it to Mozambique’s SIZZLING HOT beach party STRAB (The Subterranean Rhythm & Blues experience)? Don’t despair…

Arcade Empire (next to The Grove shopping mall, Pretoria) is organising their own beach party with some of South Africa’s hottest bands and musicians!

The line-up includes:
– Black Cat Bones
– Bittereinder
– Tombstone Pete
– Natalie Chapman
– Raoul and Black Friday
– Gerald Clark
– Stefan Dixon
– Luna Paige

Would you like to win double tickets to Arcade Empire’s exciting Road to STRAB “Voodoo Beach” Party this Saturday (18 May 2013)? It starts from 3pm sharp…

All you have to do is name the missing bands on this collage (the names are above, just reshuffle them logically). Email your answers to tshwane.people@gmail.com. The first person with the correct five answers will win the tickets! Your name and your plus one will be put on the list.
Please ensure you write 1. name of band, 2. name of band, etc.

See you there!  
Reply to event here:
https://www.facebook.com/events/163389610488490/

Girls’ Getaway takes off!

This is 40 GG

The first movie for Ster-Kinekor‘s ladies’ nights captured real life for most women.

The first Girls’ Getaway event organised by Ster-Kinekor was a lovely success at Brooklyn Mall, Pretoria, held on April 24.The ladies started arriving from 7pm, eager for their goodies and to catch up with their friends. Although the movie house was not as full as anticipated, everyone seemed to laugh at the quirky moments of “This is 40,” which explores the characters of Debbie and Pete (from the prequel, Knocked Up).

The movie explores issues close to women’s hearts: tough teenage children, apathetic husbands, a waning sex-life, temptations of all sorts and the courage of even an unexpected pregnancy (without saying too much).

Audience member Desré Barnard (27) said:

“I love how real the movie is. It explores issues that I’m bound to go through in the next ten years. Of course the swearing and sex scenes may not appeal to the older viewers in the audience. The happy ending trend is past now… As this film captures.”
The lucky draw of hampers was by far the highlight of the evening. The orthopedic pillow winner shouted: “I’ve been craving one like this for so long!” The lucky winner of the Lentheric perfume hamper is a single mom, who has been eager to spoil herself, while the lady who won the movie merchandise hamper happened to be a movie connoisseur. The Pentravel hamper winner was congratulated by her 6-women entourage. “She brought us all here! She deserves it!” said her colleague, after the show.
GG audience

Some of the wonderful women who attended ladies’ night at Brooklyn Mall’s Ster-Kinekor. PHOTO: Desré Barnard

Everyone is looking forward to the next event on May 22. “We are going to dress up for The Great Gatsby!” said a group of former Pretoria High School for Girls pupils, “We are ready to spread this wonderful girl-time and me-time to our friends.”
A big thank you to Ster-Kinekor from all those who attended.

I want to be a world reporter!

Please check out my video and promote it on Twitter with #sparworldtrip. I can win a trip around the world, reporting for Spar!
To help me earn points:
> Like the video
> Comment on it
> Share it on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, wherever!

For more info, visit http://www.seetheworldwithspar.co.za/