Mr Gay New Zealand is searching for Kiwis who best represent and support their community. It’s an an annual competition designed to find, build, and develop future leaders within the LGBTI community in New Zealand and around the world.
James Bennett, 33, is one of 8 finalists for Mr Gay New Zealand. Born and bred in Canterbury, James recently launched Rainbow Pages, New Zealand’s first platform that connects the LGBTTQI+ community to rainbow-friendly businesses.
As well as being a fantastic new App that brings rainbow people and their communities together, Rainbow Pages has just joined Gay Ski Week QT as the official partner.
We catch up with finalist James as he gets ready for the last round of Mr Gay New Zealand...
Mr Gay NZ gives me a platform to speak about LGBTTQI+ issues. In an increasingly divided political climate, it’s more important than ever to promote strong voices for inclusion. As communities, we need to unite and organise. I believe I have the skills and experience to facilitate that conversation.
I know there are some people out there who think the battle for Rainbow liberation is over. But, in the last few months I’ve been hearing about a worrying rise in reports of homophobia here in New Zealand.
I believe it’s no coincidence this comes as the United States takes a swing to the right under the leadership of Donald Trump. Around the western world we are seeing the rise of political movements that threaten the extraordinary gains we’ve made in the last few decades. I’m so proud of how far we’ve come as communities. But we’ve still got a long way to go.
In my view, the answer is simple – we rally together. I’ve always been a believer in the power of community – and the power of social enterprise.
Over the last decade I’ve had the opportunity to serve in some extraordinary roles in the LGBTTI+ communities. I spent four years involved in the management of Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. I’ve served on the board of Auckland Pride – and I also volunteer at Outline, our national helpline.
Rainbow Pages is an exciting new journey for me. It’s an App which showcases LGBTTI+ business, and gives back to community organisations. Now – more than ever – we need to unite our communities.
We see Rainbow Pages as a way to strengthen our ties with our communities – and to help make us battle-ready as we enter the age of Trump.
The winner of Mr. Gay New Zealand 2017 will be announced at the NZAF's Big Gay Out on Sunday the 12th of February 2017. Fingers crossed James!