Mr Gay World South Africa, sat down with the recently crowned Mr Gay South Africa, Chris Emmanuel, and asked some personal and not so personal questions.
It’s been 1 week since you clinched the crown as Mr Gay World, South Africa, has your life changed much?
It has indeed! My Instagram for one, which had all of a handful of followers, has started to explode, and as they say if it isn’t on Instagram did it really happen, but seriously, yes. Knysna, my hometown is buzzing! Everywhere I go people stop me, hug me and congratulate me. I was at the Knysna Waterfront yesterday, just walking my dog, and a whole table of 20 people erupted into applause and shouted congratulations. I’m no longer anonymous, that’s for sure. When I start actively campaigning in the bigger cities this will also become the case there I’m sure.
Is this title all about looks? You are quite easy on the eye (clears throat)
Mr Gay World, South Africa is not all about looks, no. It definitely helps when it comes to the public participation voting, but the judges are looking for someone that is educated, well spoken, motivated to change the world in some positive way and can be seen as a role model and spokesperson in the LGBTQI+ community. I’m still extremely humbled that I was selected to fill this important role.
You are 42, is that correct? Are you not a bit old to be winning this title!
Age really is just a number. If I ever want a free drink i just ask people to try and guess my age, if they guess right then I buy them one, they never get it right, so the drinks are on them (laughs) I guess after this interview I’m going to have to start paying up! I have a youthful energy that translates into people assuming I’m much younger. The beauty is however that I am not, giving me so much experience and patience which will allow me to maximise my impact as Mr Gay SA this year. So no, I’m not too old, I’m in fact perfectly ripened!
When did you come out?
I lived an outwardly straight life until i was 29, when I fell in love for the first time with a man. This prompted me to really dig deep and face the fact that i was in fact Gay. It has been a journey and initially was very hard on my Catholic parents but today everything is good on that front. Coming out changed my life in so many positive ways. I know that is not the case for many, and one of my major objectives is to help those rejected and abandoned by families that can’t accept their child’s sexuality.
So how do you plan to change the world or at least the world around you?
Well they say money talks and of course without it it’s hard to achieve anything. I’m not one to beg or wait for a handout so I have set up a multi pronged fundraising platform and aim to raise R1 million in a year. These funds will be applied directly to areas that I feel strongly about, assisting victims of corrective rape, educating and building awareness in conservative communities, driving home the fact that sexuality is not a choice, taking the fight for freedom into the townships. I can not claim to be free just because I get to live openly, if my brothers and sisters a few kilometres away are being beaten, raped and ridiculed. These are just a few of the many issues I will apply these funds towards.
This may be a huge change of topic, but for all the men out there, are you single?
(clears throat) Um, well… ok, yes I am.
Why the hesitation?
Well, I’m absolutely and definitely a romantic and would love to meet someone and have both of us fall head over heels in love but love is hard to navigate, often not reciprocal and sometimes even when love flourishes, the timing isn’t right. Meeting someone that resonates doesn’t happen often… maybe I need to star in the Gay bachelor and some production company can just go out and source a bunch of perfect men for me to chose from!
If you could tell all straight people one thing what would it be, and if you had the ear of every LGBTIQ+ person in SA right now what would you say to them?
To all the straights out there, I’m not gay just because I want to make you feel uncomfortable, I was born this way. If your son or daughter tells you they are gay, understand it’s the bravest thing they have ever done in their life to that point. They are not attention seeking and going through a phase. Suck it up, get a therapist and don’t make your inability to accept translate into rejection or abandonment of the stunning being you created.
To the LGBTIQ+ community, aren’t we so lucky to have each other, to understand the challenges and to relish in the uniqueness of being us! Even if i had a choice, which I didn’t, i would choose to be gay again. Let’s make a real difference together. Whip out those Pink Randelas and help me to work towards freedom for all gay South Africans.
To donate to The Chris Emmanuel Trust which will be overseen by Sohn & Associates Legal firm, Knysna, please deposit into the following account:
Name: Sohn & Associates Trust
Branch Code: 210214
Account Number: 62271798062