A Bay of Plenty representative in the Mr Gay New Zealand competition is putting their best foot forward, in the hopes of helping youth in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersexual community.
The annual competition is a search for kiwis who best represent and support their community.
It is designed to find, build, and develop future leaders within the LGBTI community who will go forth to represent New Zealand at the international competition, Mr Gay World.
Representing Bay of Plenty for 2018 is Jake Angus.
“I've been in the competition three times now, but this is my first time representing the Bay of Plenty.
“I first became a part of the competition when I was about 16 years old. I wanted to get more involved because it's a great opportunity to step up and be a voice for the rainbow community.
“I've always found this competition to be a really good platform for me to be able to express some of the opinions and ideas I have about the gay community.
“I like that my ideas can be controversial and go against what everyone else might think, It's a good chance to get your voice heard in that way.
“Alongside this it's also good hear from a diverse range of people around the country, the work they're getting involved in and the different communities and organisations they are a part of.
“It provides a platform for better education about the LGBTI community.”
As outlined by the competition's online terms and conditions, Mr Gay is not a beauty contest and candidates' physical appearance is not assessed at any stage of the competition, nor does it form part of the judging criteria.
Instead winners of the Mr. Gay New Zealand competition are chosen for attributes including leadership, relatability, communication, and their ability to engage with the wider LGBTI community.
Jake says the competition has stepped up a level this year.
“Normally you do an opinion piece, there's a public vote and you do a charity challenge raising money for New Zealand AIDS foundation.
“This year in addition to all this we also have a written test, a mentoring programme we're being put through and a formal interview.
“It's quite intense but I think it will be really good. I'm really looking forward to the mentoring programme.”
Before entering the competition, Jake was a part of the RainbowYOUTH organisation alongside a support programme at Auckland University.
“I was a board member on the RainbowYOUTH executive board which was a really good opportunity for me to expand my horizons and see the organisation from a different perspective other than being a member of it. It was quite a new experience and one I enjoyed.
“I was also a member on the Rainbow Arts committee at Auckland University. Every faculty has a specific group which deals with issues around rainbow related issues and I was one of three students on the board.
“I worked with various faculty members to promote rainbow issues and how to be more inclusive during lectures and assignment content.”
As part of the competition, Jake has released an opinion piece online about gender identity which aligns with this work.
“I thought it would be something that others could find a good read. It's also a good educational piece with a few pointers on how to help our LGBT youth.”
The piece can be found on the Eikon website.
The official kiwi representative for Mr. Gay World, will be selected by Mr. Gay New Zealand at the 2018 Ending HIV Big Gay Out on February 1 in Auckland.