Q&A - Francois Nel
Before his appearance as a judge at the Mr Gay Hong Kong finale, Arthur Tam sat down with the hunky South African to find out how he’s adjusting to his new title.
What characteristics do you need to be Mr Gay World?
It’s very important to be able to talk about issues surrounding gay rights. To take your own story and experiences and channel that into something that can benefit gay society, someone who is passionate about the cause. At the end of the day it is a beauty pageant also [laughs].
Do you feel sexier and more confident after your win?
I have always been confident. I’ve tried in my own right to stay grounded and not to change myself. But the attention around me has changed. On a personal capacity I feel just as sexy and confident, but I’ve grown as person because of all the things I’ve learned regarding gay rights.
Are you going to be looking for anything in particular for the contestants in Mr Gay HK?
For me the speaking portion is very important. I want the winner to be someone that’s very comfortable in their own skin, to confident and to be able to tell their own experiences as gay man and inspire people through that. And also someone that can thrive in gay and straight circles. It’s important to breach the gap of segregation.
What kind of projects are you working on now?
I went to the Human Rights Conference in Canada recently and I’ve been an ambassador for a variety of charity events that tackle issues from poverty to equal rights. I recently went to Rome for Euro Pride, to Brazil for the largest gay pride in the world, the Out Games and now Hong Kong!
What political issues are you particular interested in tackling?
There are a lot of issues concerning gay rights. For example partners should be allowed for hospital visits. There are places in the world where same sex marriages are not recognized. I especially want to focus on Africa since it’s my home. Safe sex and education is important because of the prevalence of HIV/AIDS. And of course the recent issues surrounding school bullying.
How’s the gay nightlife in South Africa?
There are few gay nightclubs in Victoria where I’m living now and also in Johannesburg. But I think we are better known for the safari and our wildlife. If you like going to the beach, Cape Town is great for that.
Are you big name in your town?
There has been certain amount of media exposure from doing something like this.
Do you like it?
Whats your daytime job?
I’m a professional make-up artist and hairstylist.
How has your life changed ever since you’ve won? Are guys gushing over you?
Mmm…I dunno because I’m still single.
Are you single and ready to mingle? Or do you choose to be single?
I don’t think you can really choose to be single. Relationships just happen when they do. So I take it as it goes. I want someone to like me because of me, not because I’m Mr Gay World. I was actually in a relationship all they way up until becoming Mr Gay World. We broke up, which was sad and now I’m just very focused on my work and travels. If it happens − great, if not then it doesn’t. But I would like to be in love and it’s the human condition to want that love to last forever. Kind of like The Notebook, which is one of my favourite movies.
Sexuality is a complex issue and I don’t like to judge how anyone behaves in a relationship − everyone is different and every relationship is different. For the most part I have been in monogamous relationships. I’m open minded and just go with the flow. At the end of the day the important thing is to have safe sex. Personally I dream about having that one guy.
Which part of the man’s body do you find the most attractive?
I’ve always had a fetish for the bum, also full luscious lips.
What kind of guys are you usually into?
There are a lot of things that are important when you want to date somebody. At face value there has to be the initial attraction. But attraction also comes in variations. Sometimes there is the instant gratification of being physical attracted to somebody. But sometimes the mental attraction is sexier and much more of a turn on. I kind of like the Paul Walker or Ryan Reynolds type.
What do you usually like to do on your spare time?
I really like going to galleries. I was an audiovisual media major, so I love art. I have an affinity for golden oldies, like the Bee Gee’s or Elvis. I love Celine Dion. She’s my favourite diva. She was such an inspiration when she came to South Africa to do awareness work.