Namibia Economist (Windhoek)

Namibia: I Am Me

Ricardo Amunjera has been chosen to represent the gay community for the next year when he was announced the new Mr Gay Namibia at a pageant last week.

The event took place at the playhouse theatre in Windhoek and was attended by 314 people all eager to show their support. With the theme "I am me" the event was filled with excitement and joie de vivre with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Inter-sex community (LGBTI) ready to choose their next representative.

As a voluntary position, Mr Gay Namibia is expected to be the spokesman of the gay community. He is expected to advocate for LGBTI rights in social events, to raise awareness for gays and disparage all forms of homophobia. As part of his title year, Ricardo has to design and run a personal project, also directed at these objectives.

For the competition, the contestants are not chosen indiscriminately but rather undergo a series of adjudicatory stages before they are judged for the event. This year produced a shortlist of 11 candidates from which four finalists were chosen.

The event resulted in Ricardo Amunjera being the second Mr Gay Namibia succeeding the pioneer winner Wendelinus Hamutenya.

The idea of the event is to promote the activities of the trust, Out Rights Namibia (ORN). They promote human rights for the gay community. Despite the private sector support over the past year, the gay community still faces opposition from the government. "Homophobia is still big in Namibia" explains Joe Gerstmayr who is the managing director of the event and the brainchild of the pageant. He further laments that the community faces discrimination especially without being properly represented in the current Constitution. Other than this, the community faces severe challenges of funding.

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