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Mr. Gay Canada about more than looks

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By Jennifer Miller, The Whistler Question

Whistler – Yes, there’s a swimsuit component in the Mr. Gay Canada competition, but don’t refer to the event as a beauty pageant — the winner won’t wear a sash and only about 15 per cent of possible judging points can be awarded for looks.

The first-ever Mr. Gay Canada competition is coming to Whistler Sept. 19 and 20 and with homosexuality still being illegal in 70 countries, Executive Producer and Whistlerite Dean Nelson said the event is more about finding a positive role model than perpetuating drag queen stereotypes.

“It’s not a beauty pageant. This competition is about getting the message out that it’s OK to be gay,” Nelson said. “We’re looking for a really strong leader, a strong ambassador, rather than a focus on looks.”

Nelson, who recently became the sole owner of GayWhistler, the company that produces WinterPRIDE, has been involved with the International Mr. Gay competition for the past few years and went to Budapest in July for the Mr. Gay Europe contest. With anti-gay protesters throwing rocks, eggs and Molotov cocktails during a gay pride march, the finals were held in a secret location under heavy security.

“It just gave me instant clarity about what the competition’s about,” Nelson said of the experience. “We’re just humans. Until we’re all treated as equal humans the fight’s not over.”

Last year James Coburn was appointed as the Mr. Gay Canada delegate to take part in International Mr. Gay to get a closer look at the contest and design a Canadian competition, Nelson said.

This year 10 delegates will compete for the title of Mr. Gay Canada in three days of events in Vancouver and Whistler. Representatives from Toronto, Saskatoon, Guelph, Victoria, North Vancouver, Surrey, Vancouver and Whistler will vie for the title through various photo shoots, an eco-challenge and interviews with the judges. The competition events are designed to test the participants’ communication skills, creativity, confidence and leadership abilities, Nelson said.

Whistler’s own Stephen Greig, a Ski School supervisor and mountain bike coach, is representing the resort in the competition. The winner will be crowned on Saturday, Sept. 20, at the finals at Maxx Fish and everyone is invited.

“It’s going to be a really fun, interactive show,” Nelson said. “We’d just encourage everybody to come out and show their support.”

In addition to representing Canada in the 2009 International Mr. Gay contest, the Mr. Gay Canada winner will appear in a PSA about homophobia to air on major Canadian TV stations and he’ll promote Canada as a travel destination for gay and lesbian travellers, Nelson said. Organizers are also hoping the winner will also take the initiative to do extras such as school presentations to help stop bullying and homophobia, he said.

Nelson said he wanted the first Mr. Gay Canada competition to be held in Whistler because of the community’s openness to everyone, whether he or she is a high-powered executive or a ski bum.

“Our community really celebrates being yourself,” he said.

Mr. Gay Canada 2008 will be crowned on Saturday, Sept. 20, at Maxx Fish. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. and tickets are $10. A dance party with DJ Foxy Moron follows the show and partial proceeds go to the Vancouver Friends For Life Society. Visit www.mrgaycanada.com for more information and delegate biographies.

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face it, its all about sex appeal and looks .

to say it about it's ok to be gay is a damn lie.

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