The annual competition Mr Gay World will be held in South Africa from the 26th of April to the 4th of May. The Icelandic delegate, Troy Michael Jónsson is all set to fly to Cape Town. He was also the Icelandic delegate in Rome last year when he finished in the top ten and is confident he has a better chance this year.
South Africa has been the host of MGW (Mr. Gay World) once before, in 2012, wich caused some controversy in other African countries where homosexuality is considered a crime punishable by death. That year the Zimbabwean delegate had to withdraw from the competition in order to avoid “embarrassing his country” and the Ethiopian delegate faced similar challenges but stayed to compete which forced him to become a refugee and lose his family. If he had returned to Ethiopia he would have faced impending death for being publicly gay.
In spite of this Troy says that the South Africans are not worried about the competition causing any troubles this year and that there will be no extra measures taken to protect the delegates.
“South Africa is a very progressive country,” he says. “And the organisers s of the competition have assured us that there is absolutely no danger involved. The competition is held in collaboration with the South African Gay pride and there seems to be a very optimistic spirit surrounding it. It is an important fight for human rights and I think this competition really has a big role to play in the LBQTI fight for equality. Most importantly though, this year it’s all about “giving back”. We will be visiting a retirement home, children’s school, and so on. We are donating gifts to children and raising money for charities.”
In the competition in Rome last year Troy was chosen the fittest delegate, a title he is eager to keep despite of a lower back injury that has caused his therapist to warn him to stay away from working out too much.
“For me, personally, it is much tougher this year because I have been struggling severely with fitness as I’ve had a severe back injury and just haven’t been 100 percent at the gym. So I’m a bit worried about swimwear, but I’m fighting through the pain. My therapist told me I could threaten my ability to walk properly if I didn’t take it easy on my back, but I had to risk it and work around that and find a way to keep going. There is no way I’m going to let that stand in my way.”
“My lawyer has warned me not to say anything to the press.”
Troy has been in the news lately as he is in the process of suing the Icelandic Blood Bank and the Health authorities for banning gays from donating blood. Asked how the lawsuit is going he says that he is not at liberty to discuss the case at this stage.
“My lawyer has warned me not to say anything to the press, but I can tell you that it is going very well. The President of Iceland invited me for coffee and we had a very good talk about this ridiculous ban. He is totally on the same page as me regarding that. I have also started a new project “The Bleeding Love Project” to fight this ban and I have got very good response from a lot of important people from all around the world who are backing me in that. It seems to be the general opinion that this ban should be overturned, especially in Iceland.”
Asked why he, an American, is competing for Iceland Troy says that he considers himself an Icelander now. “I married an Icelandic man and moved here two years ago and I absolutely love this country. Even though some things have not worked out the way I hoped I’m going to stay in Iceland and make my future here. This is my country now.”
Last year Troy had to quit his job to be able to take part in the competition as his employer would not give him the time off to go to Rome but this year he says it is quite another story.
“That was very unfortunate last year, but I did very well in the competition despite being distracted by losing my work. This year I am 100 percent focused, no worries, my work supports me and I have got good sponsors like The Blue Lagoon and a physical therapist who sponsored my flight which was a huge deal. So I’m very happy with the response and my goal is to do at least as well this year as last year. I don’t really like to say that I am going to do better but I can say that I think I have a much better chance. I’m so excited about this, there are going to be participants from all around the world, fighting for equality and human rights and it’s a privilege to be a part of that. I can’t make any promises about the outcome for me but I can promise you that I’m not going down without a fight.”