Knysna has just wrapped up its 18th Pink Loerie Festival and this year was once again a colourful revelry of music, dance, feathers and fabulous fanfare. This long standing annual festival provides a platform for artists, performers and singers from the LGBT community to express themselves without limitations in an inclusive environment. It attracts hundreds of people not only from South Africa, but around the world, all of whom come together in a festive spirit of fun, tolerance and acceptance.
This year the 10th Mr Gay World formed part of the Pink Loerie Festival and 19 delegates from across the globe competed in various challenges throughout their week in Knysna. They were judged on wide range of attributes, some of which included their willingness to have fun and push personal comfort zones. As proud sponsors of Mr Gay World 2018, we had the pleasure of hosting them for a morning, offering them a bit of both.
On May 24th the contestants boarded our Ocean Odyssey vessels to take part in an educational Knysna Heads Adventure. The trip was a total blast, as they were all incredibly enthusiastic and eager to learn about our beautiful town. Lucy van Eyk, one of our rock star accredited Nature Guides, shared the wonders of our famous estuary (the most important in terms of biodiversity in the entire country). Over the course of the day we got the chance to get to know some of the contestants better, gaining insight into their lives and diverse cultures. Mr Gay India, a Senior Fellow Researcher at the Indian Institute of Chemical Biology, shared his ongoing struggle with being a gay man in India and how he manages to rise above this adversity. We had a good laugh with Mr Gay Portugal as he explained in detail the fab costume he had planned for the street parade over the weekend. Needless to say there were lots of selfies taken over the course of the day with Knysna as the perfect Instagram backdrop!
After exploring Knysna’s liquid landscape, the contestants joined us in the Pink Loerie Clean Up, which took place along the Costa Sarda walkway, which skirts the edge of the estuary. They were given gloves and garbage bags and set to work cleaning the banks of all sorts of litter, including plastic, discarded shopping trolleys, cigarette butts and much more. They were all incredibly enthusiastic and willing to help with this important environmental cause, going above and beyond to collect as much litter as they could, no matter how gross!! (Many actually commented on how they thought Knysna seemed to be an incredibly clean town.)
Jorika Brink and Teresa da Mata from Ocean Odyssey were then interviewed for “Gay Radio”, and given the opportunity to discuss the importance of a healthy environment and how the pervasiveness of plastic in our marine environment is a serious cause for concern.
Our time spent with all the Mr Gay contestants from around the world was not only a lot of fun, but also a genuine privilege. We thoroughly enjoyed getting involved in this exciting and colourful festival and we look forward to Knysna being awash with pink once again next year.