Saturday, 3 September 2011

My Gay UK Returns!

It was announced last week that Mr Gay UK would be returning in 2011 after a gap in recent years.  The lucky winner of the national competition will win a trip to Morocco and £2000 cash.  They will also appear on the front cover of Bent magazine and have a professional photo shoot.  The winner used to have a very high profile in the gay community (I think it was the 1999 winner who also appeared in Queer as Folk), although that seems less true in recent years.  The competition has previously been broadcast on Channel 5 and also on Living, giving it a reach beyond the gay clubs and pubs that host the competition around the UK.

The competition works by city rounds (clubs ask to host) and those winners go forward to a final.  Quite a few venues have already been announced for 2011:

27/08 - Londonderry - Envy Bar
03/09 - Cardiff - Pulse 09/09 - Burnley - Guys as Dolls
17/09 - Stoke - Fierce Music Bar
23/09 - Newcastle - Powerhouse
24/09 - Glasgow - Bennets
30/09 - Manchester - Cruz 101
01/10 - Bristol - Queen Shilling
07/10 - Belfast - Kremlin
08/10 - Walsall - Lion Bar and Club
08/10 - Middlesbrough - SATUR-GAY @ Blu & Basement
10/10 - Darlington - Pick & Mix @ Harveys & Gaylicious @ Joes Bar
14/10 - Hull - Fuel + Propaganda
21/10 - Sheffield - Fuel 22/10 - Birmingham - iHost
28/10 - Nottingham - Propaganda
29/10 - Leeds - Viaduct Show Bar

No Sunderland venue yet, and I'd like to advertise my services as a judge for any potential Sunderland organiser (which has hosted a round in the past).  Go on organisers...

You might think, as frankly I did in the not too distant past, that such a competition is a little bit grim.  Aping some awful Miss World competition but without the pretence of having some poor girl declaring that her goal in life is to look pretty and abolish global poverty.

However, as I've watched the increased de-sexing of the homosexual male identity, I think we need this sort of public ogling, this public declaration of libido.  A reminder that it's not some innate sense of colour co-ordination and home decor that defines men as gay but rather, the desire to - wait for it - shag a member of the same sex.  In 1999 Queer as Folk wowed the world with gay men rimming on terrestrial television.  The only rimming gay men are likely to be depicted doing today is some martini glass cocktail prep.  So we do, I think, need this shallow, gratuitous competition.

Get into that tight underwear and dance I say!  (I did mention I wanted to be a judge, right?).

For those of you who've never experienced the naff joy of a Mr Gay competition, the 2004 competition is on YouTube and embedded below.  It was hosted by Brian Dowling - a former winner of Big Brother UK who is now fronting the programme on Channel 5.  The strange thing is, he presents exactly the same way in the two programmes.  UK viewers, what do you think?  Former BB winner, Nadia is the co-host (so the first gay BB winner, and first trans winner -  it's like a BB spin-off).  Oddly, I also have an earlier version of the Mr Gay UK theme on a CD that I somehow got my hands on when I was the LGB union council rep (before it became an 'officer' in its own right) at my student's union.  Thought I'd share that random titbit with you.  Anyway, check out the 2004 final below:

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Elly said...

So the Gay Community is all about gay men after all. Quelle surprise!

Chris Ashford said...

I'm not sure how this post justifies that response. If there was a Miss Gay UK, or a Queer UK competition, I'd post/comment on that, but there isn't (a topic in itself I grant you).

This post focuses on gay male sexuality and I don't apologise for that.

Elly said...

It's just Gay.

Elly said...

It was this bit:

'The winner used to have a very high profile in the gay community'

I contest the idea of a 'gay community', especially if you mean 'the community of gay men'. I find gay men to be amongst the least community minded people I know of. And to be very individualistic.

But maybe I am wrong. What do I know? I am not a member of the gay community!

Chris Ashford said...

Oh I see. Yes, the term is an imperfect one (and I use it too often), however, if one does accept the presence of some form of 'gay culture' eg a media, commercial and virtual presence that defines it as such, then Mr Gay UK has always had a strong presence/consciousness within that space - but that space is not exclusive to gay men (although arguably it is dominated by 'gay men')

Elly said...

Mark Simpson calls that 'gay culture' in Anti gay (1996). And then proceeds to rip it to pieces. A great read if you haven't already! It should be out as an e-book soon.

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