It has been 1272 days since the last Mr Gay Pride Australia was crowned, but now, after being cancelled due to the pandemic, finalists for the next competition have finally been announced.
Finalists for Mr Gay Pride Australia 2022 proudly sponsored by TrustPilot, will now be put through a series of online and face-to-face challenges over the next three months leading up to the finale weekend at the Rainbow on the Plains Festival in Hay, New South Wales in late November.
It will be the fourth edition of Mr Gay Pride Australia held to find and empower the next LGBTI+ leaders in Australia.
This year’s nine finalists are made up of delegates that were initially chosen for the 2020 event before the pandemic put a stop to that event and also a number of more recent applicants.
Finalists range in age from 25 to 46 and reside in NSW, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia.
Meet the 2022 Finalists and why they entered Mr Gay Pride Australia
1. Ali Haidar, 29 , Melbourne, VIC
I want this to mean something to someone else out there and to inspire others who are dealing with their identity to live as their authentic and proud selves. I never had a role model or anyone that I could relate to or look up to. Growing up gay was challenging for me. Dealing with self-acceptance and outside influences telling me what I am and who I shouldn’t be is wrong, made it so much more difficult for me. I began to resent myself, because of the environment I was born into and people I had surrounded myself with. I don’t want others to go through the same, or at least make it easier for them.
2. Antony Brookes, 42, Sydney, NSW
Ahoy hoy! Firstly, my name is Antony (He/Him), I’m 42 and I’m a proud Welshman originally hailing from the beautiful shores of Snowdonia. I identify as Queer and enjoy a vast array of interests like Rugby Union, performing on stage, helping others in need and most recently kickball! I’m highly empathetic and have a natural instinct to want to protect those around me, while also trying to balance my own mental health. I’m also an individual who is fortunate to have lived and experienced so many major changes that have impacted our LGBTQIA+ community over the past four decades and truly appreciate the privileges we are able to have today and pay my respect to those who marched before which led to positive changes in our community. To quote Shakespeare: “We are such stuff as dreams are made on”.
3. Craig Mack, 46, Sydney, NSW
I’m Craig Mack and I’m an Ambassador for suicide prevention charity R U OK? Long before the apocalypse and lockdowns I was consciously aware of the power and value of feeling connection, belonging, identity and purpose – or rather their absence, as the song goes you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone. One thing I’ve learned from a lifetime riding the rollercoaster of depression, is that these are the magic that makes life worth living. I’m here with Mr Gay Pride Australia because we don’t always feel them, and that’s ok, but while rollercoasters go up, down, twist, turn, flip and change – a lot of us don’t understand the ride, or what to do with those of us on it. This is a great platform to share stories and experience to help break down the mystery, stigma and fears of mental health, and help strengthen those feelings of connection, belonging, identity and purpose with the simple reminder that we all need and deserve them, and all of us are vers enough to both give and receive them.
4. Dion Alexander, 34, Meadowbank, NSW
I have entered Mr Gay Pride Australia as I want to help to bring together not only our community but continue to work to promote acceptance and visibility outside our community. My goal is to help create safe and inclusive spaces, especially in areas that are not considered traditional LGBTIQA+ friendly spaces so that everyone in our community feels accepted and included no matter what space they are in. I also want to help create an outlet where disadvantaged groups in our community can share their stories so we have a more complete story of what it means to be gay in our society.
5. Esteban Calvo, 31, Randwick, NSW
From mental health issues to sexual discrimination, to eating disorders, gay men are leading the pack when it comes to statistics – and not in a good way. I’ve been lucky enough to tell/share my own story with people close to me, and have seen the impact genuine connection and conversation can have. Through Mr Gay Pride Australia I plan to amplify my voice, and hopefully amplify the number of people I can reach and help. I plan to advocate around the issues of body shaming, community, and mental health.
6. Hamilton Summers, 34, Five Dock, NSW
I’m about good times and good vibes. Exploring locations and its locals. I’m in this competition. As I want to spread love and positivity to all with my own take.
7. Joshua Haines, 31, Perth, WA
Joshua Haines (he/him) is an arts practitioner from Boorloo, Whadjuk Noongar Boodja (Perth, Western Australia). He is passionate about mental health awareness, and arts access to all communities. Joshua hopes his time with Mr Gay Pride Australia inspires creative expression through storytelling across all mediums.
8. Paul Wheeler, 37, Aspley, QLD
Hi Australia, I’m Paul from sunny Brisbane. Originally from (not so sunny) Essex and have been in Australia for 12 years. Like a superhero, I have a day job but also work as a host/MC, hosting many of Brisbane’s LGBTQIA+ events such as Big Gay Day, Brisbane Pride as well as many other family based gigs. I have entered this competition as I’m very passionate about creating safe, inclusive spaces for our community. I’d like to focus on parts of the community that often feel like they might not fit in and deserve our focus. If I’m not the right person to speak for them, I would engage with the people that were and provide support and a voice on the microphone. As the current Mr Bear QLD 2021, I’m all about body positivity and have worked hard to bring new faces to the events. I’m so excited to be on this journey with the rest of the contestants and look forward to creating a new family. Paul (he/him)
9. Xavier James, 25, Sydney, NSW
‘Don’t try to force a life which you think others think is perfect.
Live a life that is perfectly you.’ – Come Undone by Xavier James
This world can be a tough place, but it’s easier knowing you are not alone in it. Sexuality uncertainty, parental divorce, mental health battles, sexual assault and young love that was forbidden to shine are times in my life where I felt isolated and ashamed. I want to be the voice I needed when I was younger. I want to make a positive difference in other peoples’ lives. My book Come Undone breathes this and I want to continue to raise awareness that we truly are never alone.
Last Updated on Sep 1, 2022