Mr Gay hopefuls vow to campaign for Aids awareness and against bullying

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 07 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 07 October, 2012, 3:49am

They may have been battling it out for the right to be called Mr Gay Hong Kong - just don't call it a beauty contest.

The beautiful men were strutted around the stage in a Lan Kwai Fong nightclub wearing first swimwear and then formal wear - but organisers and contestants say the competition was about something far more important than looking good.

"Beauty gets you attention for the first few seconds, and then you can start talking about different issues," said organiser James Gannaban.

Co-organiser Anshuman Das said: "It's about picking a spokesman for the gay community, and a role model for younger LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] youth."

The winner was Benjie Caraig, a fitness trainer from the Philippines who will represent Hong Kong in the Mr Gay World 2013 competition, which will take place in Belgium next August.

He will also become this year's ambassador for Tongzhi Tsai, a campaign against homophobic bullying in Hong Kong schools. Contestants insisted they would continue to raise awareness about such issues even if they did not win the title. Donny de Silva, a corporate executive from Singapore, said: "I want to keep speaking out against homophobic bullying and about wearing condoms to prevent the spread of HIV/Aids."

There were five contestants, one more than last year. Dickson Lau, the only Chinese contestant, said Hong Kong was becoming a more accepting place.

"I first started getting involved as a volunteer for LGBT events last year," Lau said. "I eventually told my mum I was volunteering in the community, and she didn't say much, but she knows that I'm gay now and I'm glad I told her."

Mr Gay Hong Kong is part of Pink Season, the largest LGBT festival in Asia, with events running until mid-December.