Mr Gay Ph.D, or Mr. Gay Porn Star revisited
Dylan Vox | February 11, 2008
LOS ANGELES — With Super Tuesday results in and the Presidential primaries still in full swing, the nation is deciding who best represents the USA as a leader. Weighing candidates based on merit, policy decisions, history, ideals, values and endless speech making seems to be engrained in our society, but there are other segments of the populous who place a great deal of importance on outward appearances.
The gay community has often longed for representation and powerful leadership to help promote our interests and to break down stereotypes while creating a cohesive voice. The International Mr. Gay competition was originally conceived to do just that.
This month, the competition took place in Los Angeles, where representatives from across the world took to the stage in the third annual event. While organizers hoped the competition would be a catalyst for promoting a gay man who represented the gay community in a positive light, many criticized the event as an antiquated beauty pageant that does nothing more than allow spectators to ogle hot young guys in bathing suits.
Created by prolific party promoter Don Spradlin, the Mr. Gay competition was designed to fill a void of gay representation.
Spradlin explained that he felt that there wasn�t a competition for the regular gay man.
�They have competitions for the leather community and drag queens, but I wanted to create something for just a regular guy who doesn�t necessarily fit into any of the gay sub cultures.�
However, as pointed out in previous articles, the men involved hardly seem like the average Joe. Buffed bodies, perfect teeth and incredible abs seemed to be the first prerequisite when deciding who best represents our community.
So how exactly does this sort of competition break down stereotypes?
On their website, organizers say that they are �looking for all types of guys, from gym-bunny to math geek with a passion to lead.�
With that philosophy in mind, sexy porn star Jorge Schmeda, who has appeared in films like Rush and Release and Bang that Ass under the name Max Shutler, was originally appointed as the Mr. Gay representative from Argentina.
While a panel of judges as in the United States pageants elects most delegates, Argentina and several other countries choose a selection from a group of applicants without a formal competition.
Spradlin explains that as the idea behind the competition grows, he hopes that the will have the same type of selection process as they do here, but for now, the appointment process seems like the best way to try to expand diversity.
The fact that a porn star was awarded a delegate position didn�t go unnoticed by the Mr. Gay board of directors. There were talks from other contestants and organizations that a porn star was not a good representative of the community, and many criticized the competition altogether.
"The LGBT community is sensationalized as consisting of two things: sex scandals and gay pride," Mr. Gay USA Jonathon �JT� Taylor from San Francisco commented. "And occasionally equality and human rights."
Many agreed with his sentiments.
Spradlin, however, explained that there was no rule against porn stars or other sex workers entering the competition, but there have been talks that perhaps something would be changed in the future.
As predicted, Jorge Shemeda mysteriously disappeared from the International competition. Instead, 28-year-old stunner Carlos Melia showed up as the representative and eventually walked away with the crown.
Also missing was Taylor, who was replaced last minute by the charming Josh Roberts, who was the runner up in the USA competition.
Spradlin explained that after the announcement of the winners, Shemeda was unable to be reached, and therefore, was replaced.
Taylor, on the other hand, had a much different reason for not competing. This year a prize money award of $5,000 was attached to the title of each competition, and an additional $10,000 award would be handed to the International winner.
Spradlin explained that after a six-week delay in payment, JT was finally given his money and then didn�t participate in the competition because of the delay.
Representative Josh Roberts, however, was not compensated for actually doing the work, because as Spradlin pointed out, �There wasn�t enough money in the budget and the award had already been rendered.�
�My USA title has already gotten me an audience with senators, assemblymen, mayors, newspapers, magazines and radio," JT said before relinquishing the title. "Prior to the contest, I didn't have an audience with any of these outlets. So, I believe that it has given me a platform to move forward with our efforts as a community to be tolerated and accepted as a diverse group of individuals, beyond what may be projected in the media today.�
The Mr. Gay pageant was originally organized as a benefit show that donated money to various charity organizations.
Spradlin said that the foundation was �started by volunteers to raise money for AIDS service organizations. Our board and our volunteers vote on who they want to have the money distributed to.�
This year's benefactor is the Noble Beast Foundation.
While the ideal of a gay representatives and community leaders is most certainly an important endeavor, it is hard to tell whether the Mr. Gay pageant is accomplishing that goal.
Spradlin explains that community service and activism are definitely roles that make up a great Mr. Gay representative, but he also concedes that looks have a great deal of influence over the judging.
Although there are no age or body type limitations or expectations on the contest, none of the men who made it all the way to the International competition could truly be considered average gay guys. Rewarding youth and beauty is an entertaining and often arousing event, but do these men actually represent the community as a whole?
The competition seems fun and the guys for the most part are well rounded and articulate, but it is still questionable whether the Mr. Gay pageant is something that is relevant in modern society. In a culture that seems almost obsessed with youth and beauty, maybe it is achieving a goal by reflecting the ideals of gay life.
Spradlin himself hopes that in the future the Mr. Gay pageant will diversify in order to reach its goal of finding the perfect person to be the representative for the gay community. – Issued by Gay Link Content
Mr. Gay Ph.D, or Mr. Gay Porn Star?