Jerome Smith is one of the youngest finalists in this year’s Mr. Gay New Zealand competition but has no lack of experience or knowledge of the issues affecting LGBT youth and wants to offer his support as much as he can.
The 18-year-old Takanini resident suggests one of the biggest issues in the community is that a lot of people are scared.
“Scared of what others will think, scared that they will be judged, scared that they will be unloved for who they really are,” Jerome explained to eikon.
“I also think that a lot of people are under educated, in regards to safe sex, HIV prevention and protecting themselves.
“I believe that people don’t think there is a huge amount of support out there, which is why people end up “experimenting”.
“I know there is support out there, I know there is people that are willing to pass on their knowledge and skills, and I’m wanting to make that known, not only to LGBT community but also the general community.”
As a nursing student, Jerome spends a lot of his time caring for others and that’s something that drives him to offer support whether he is Mr. Gay New Zealand or not.
“What excites me the most about this competition is that I get to interact with a lot of different people, I get to listen to people’s stories and potentially offer advice, I also get to offer my advice, knowing that it will be heard.
“I also have the opportunity to work amongst the other like-minded contestants that could potentially lead to lifetime friendships.”
Jerome believes it is his personality and approachable nature that will impress the judges in the final on Sunday at the Big Gay Out.
“I may be young, but I’ve been through a heck of a lot more than I should have at this age, and I’m willing to share my experiences and knowledge with anybody.
And on his fellow Mr. Gay New Zealand finalists, “They’re a good bunch, never a dull moment. They each have their own aspirations and I enjoy listening to the stories each and every one of them have to tell.”
The final of Mr. Gay New Zealand 2017 will be held at the Ending HIV Big Gay Out on Sunday 12 February. You can still vote for your favourite finalist here.
Last Updated on Feb 8, 2017