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8 Sep 2009

The search is on: Mr Gay Hong Kong

The winner will represent the territory at the Mr Gay World competition finale in Oslo, Norway in 2010. Fridae correspondent Nigel Collett meets Mr Gay Hong Kong organiser, James Gannaban to find out more.

Lovers of the body beautiful will not have missed news of this year’s Mr Gay World competition finale in Whistler, Canada, where Mr Gay Ireland, hunky Dubliner Max Krzyzanowski, won the Mr Gay World title. (If you weren’t paying this any attention then, check it up later on their site, mrgayworld.org.)

Dubliner Max Krzyzanowski won the Mr Gay World 2009 title.
Since the competition’s start in 2008, 24 countries have sent contestants to the international finale, and now Hong Kong will have the chance to be represented in the next, which is scheduled to be in Oslo, Norway’s capital, in 2010, where it is supported by no less than the Mayor of Oslo, Fabian Stang and André Oktay Dahl, an openly gay member of Parliament, both of whom appear in the promotional Youtube video featured at the end of this article.
This Gay World now includes a number of Asia-Pacific countries: the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand and India, and is spreading fast. Mr Gay World’s international board of directors has appointed two Hong Kong residents, James Gannaban and Noel Furrer, who will be well known those Hong Kongers amongst us who have chilled out in FINDS or partied in JJ’s over the last few years, to represent them and to organise Hong Kong’s first Mr Gay Hong Kong pageant on 28 November 2009.
Mr Gay World has as its aim the identification of gay men who are prepared to speak out publicly both in their own community and on the world stage in support of human rights. So, they are not just looking for a pretty face.
The Hong Kong pageant will have about twenty contestants who can match their brains to their brawn, and the winner will win the chance to go forward to the world final in Norway next year. Apart from this chance to travel to the frozen north, as well as to have money to spend there and a wardrobe of clothes to wear, there will be other prizes to attract the contestants.
If you fancy your chances, here’s the Hong Kong website where you’ll find all the rules of the competition and which will tell you if you’re eligible to take part: manasiaproductions.com. What they’re looking for, basically, are young men (you’ve got to be between 21 and 40), over 170 cm tall who hold a valid Hong Kong ID card. English isn’t essential, but it’ll help. You can sign up at the site; don’t hang about. They’ve already got a dozen applications.
Applicants lucky enough to be chosen for the pageant will be interviewed in a variety of nightspots around town to give them the chance to be seen and heard in public. The final night will see rounds in sports wear, swim wear and formal wear, the last including interviews when the candidates can talk about themselves. Five finalists will go forward into the last stage, and voting for this will be split between the public, which will get to vote online as well as in the venue, and the panel of judges made up of some well-known Hong Kong figures. 

James Gannaban, organiser of Mr Gay Hong Kong pageant which will be held Nov 28, 2009.
At FINDS, the restaurant in Central which is unique in providing Hong Kong’s only Scandinavian menu, I talked to James Gannaban about the pageant. James works here as their PR and Marketing Manager. “I’m very much excited by this project,” he told me. “It is going to have very much a local form, nothing like anything that’s happening at the moment but something that will be a showcase for Hong Kong gay life.” 
It’s also something James relishes as it’s taking him back to showbiz, where he started in Hong Kong. James is from the Cagayan valley in the north of Luzon, where his mother, who had fled from the Cultural Revolution in Fujian, met and married his Filipino father. He majored in theatre at the Jesuit Ateneo de Manila University, which he scandalised not so much for being out and gay, which he was from the age of 18, but more from his attempt to stage a production of The Vagina Monologues on campus. In the ensuing ruckus, the Vice Chancellor locked herself in her office to avoid the press and James ended up staging the show in a restaurant over the road. He then took it on tour to a series of small venues deep in the provinces, pretty much as a one man theatrical band, an experience which taught him skills of stage management, producing, directing and every aspect of the touring theatre.
Disney was then about to open its Hong Kong theme park and James was selected at an audition in Manila, coming almost immediately to Hong Kong to become the principal vocalist of Disney’s ‘The Golden Mickeys’. Over two years later he took a job in FINDS and so moved to Hong Kong’s hospitality industry, doing a small stretch also with JJs, working there under Noel Furrer. When Mr Gay World approached him to be its local rep, James asked Noel to join him. He’s very glad to be back to something with a public stage.
James has many strings to his bow. He’s a prolific and fluent blogger (his blog’s at http://astronsnotebook.livejournal.com). He’s been joined there recently by his alter ego, Fabiola, who has also begun to appear on the Hong Kong scene, performing at places like Volume. She was quite a shock to his boyfriend when she made her first appearance a year ago, but for James, Fabiola’s six inch heels and wicked, waspish tongue are great ways to let the light in on a different part of his personality. He loves to shock, excite and surprise, and usually succeeds!
Drag will not, though, be a criterion of the Mr Gay Hong Kong competition; the qualities on display that night will be much more traditionally masculine. But still gay, of course, and no one’s ruled out the camp. Combine all or any of these things? It could be your face and more I shall be writing about next. May the best gay man win! 

Reader's Comments

1. 2009-09-08 22:14  
Interesting. They seem to be looking for a more musculine look, rather than just a 'pretty boy' face. Wonder if such a competition will ever reach our shores.
2. 2009-09-08 23:45  
Very inspiring.
3. 2009-09-09 00:38  
Since when New Zealand and Australia have become Asian countries???? Author needs to brush up his geographic knowledge. lol
4. 2009-09-09 01:41  
the mayor in OSlo is gay..cool
5. 2009-09-09 02:26  

wish a tiny guy can enter..hehehe
6. 2009-09-09 02:45  
"So, they are not JUST looking for a pretty face."

No, but all being equal... you can bet what they will choose... Not #5, though I would probably choose you ;-)
7. 2009-09-09 04:53  
its great to see such a competition making its way to Asia, living in London, i get to HK a few times each year. hope i am around at the end of November, if not have a great time
8. 2009-09-09 05:05  
Will Mr Gay World inspire world peace???
9. 2009-09-09 06:39  
like any peagentry, any chance asian contestants would at least be in top 20 in any given year at all?
10. 2009-09-09 07:47  
COOL, gay transformation gives out its first step via go on screen in Asia. i want enter the contest too. INSPIRING
11. 2009-09-09 09:36  
will malaysia ever makes its entry? i doubt so.. at least not int the next 10 years.
12. 2009-09-09 10:04  
I'd vote for Mr Gannaban
13. 2009-09-09 10:18  
are beauty contests an indication of progress? i don't think so... so yucky
14. 2009-09-09 10:27  
anyway, better to watch Glee or another hot band that is up and coming is Tally Hall... they have progressed since their days on the OC and Smile Like You Mean It, real talent is so lacking these days
15. 2009-09-09 10:29  
How very boring. An other label an other sticker. Beauty Pageant no more no less! Why join a club if you don't like the members ;-)
16. 2009-09-09 12:50  
Very interesting, can i b member? i'm thai gay guy who wanna have more friend and love from gay guy,
17. 2009-09-09 16:03  
good idea......should have many charming guys there!!!!
18. 2009-09-09 16:20  
Hey Cat_Boy (comment 3)... I believe the author said "This Gay World now includes a number of Asia-Pacific countries: the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand...." The operative word(s) being Asia-Pacific. I'm sure if it wasn't for the $$ and contribution that Australia makes to the ASIA-PACIFIC region some 3rd world countries would be still 3rd world and not emerging nations. And a comment like yours is laughable given that you appear to be living in the United Kingdom.

Not trying to be a bitch here....

Lets hope that someone that embodies all that being gay means wins, no just someone that looks nice on the outside but is not so inside.

Love and hugs to all from an Australian who takes pride in his country but also identifies with being a resident of the Asia-Pacific region.
19. 2009-09-09 17:07  
Firstly, in reference to post #3 ...& in agreement with post #18 when I went to high school in the 80's , and in my geography classes, Australia as a region was geographically included as part of Asia ( Asia-Pacific and Australasia) Have they changed the geography books since then ?

Just because Asian people didn't colonise, or are indigeonous to Australia does'nt physically change its geographical location.

But I guess thats that not part of the subject here.. just a sideline....

My question is, why wasn't the Asia, and the Asian- pacific region countries included before in this type of competition before ? LOL

Were we not part of the international community before ?

Amusing ! Maybe we should have an Asia-pacific Mr.Gay ?
20. 2009-09-09 22:56  

I hope this beauty pageon is the final solution for global warming crisis.
21. 2009-09-10 01:27  
Support support and support Mr Gay HK
Comment #22 was deleted by its author on 2009-09-10 02:46
23. 2009-09-10 02:47  
The Seven "Continents/Land Masses" of the World are: Africa, Antartica Asia, Europe, North America, Latin America/South America and Oceania. You're right about Australia and New Zealand are in Asia-Pacific region. But Asia-Pacific ≠ Asia. I'm not British Chinese. Only moved to UK two years ago. According to the British definition of Ethnicity, Chinese aren't even Asian(Found out when I registered at college and filled in visa application). And Turkey wants to join the EU. I just find all these very amusing. ;)
24. 2009-09-10 03:13  
where is Mr. gay Korea!
hope to see you soon
25. 2009-09-10 03:46  

lots and lots of succes with the contest....may the best hunk win!
26. 2009-09-10 10:18  
Drop Death Gorgeous? Hollywood Disco Queen?

How nice! Why we have to re-enforce the stereo style image of gay ourselves again and again?

Those anti-gay people will surely suppose such event! There you have it! That's how gay look like!
Comment edited on 2009-09-10 10:22:12
27. 2009-09-14 13:34  
To clear Cat_Boy doubt of the author's geographic knowledge that Australia n New Zealand as part of asian countries. If u read carefully Asia-pacific countries on the third paragraph, he refer pacific as Australia, New Zealand n Fiji and not asian countries.
28. 2009-09-18 15:13  
keep in my inspiration, great
29. 2009-09-20 15:33  
Amazing place~~~
and amazing event too~~
support support!
30. 2009-09-23 09:42  
I hope that the production is better than the Mr HK shows... those are so cheap looking!

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