Overcoming body weight issues and the struggle to come out as gay is behind Paolo Amante’s decision to enter the Mr Gay New Zealand competition.
The 22-year-old was born in the Philippines, in a city called Binan just outside of the capital Manila, and moved to Auckland with his family in 2006.
In a country he now calls home, Amante has spoken exclusively to eikon about his body weight struggles during his teenage years and how that affected his confidence and self-esteem.
“I used to hide myself in my room and not go out,” Amante explained.
“I would miss out on special events with family and friends and binge eating because I was depressed.
“Food was my comfort. I started my weight loss journey about two years ago, I used to weigh 90kgs and now I’m down to just 65kg.”
As with many in the gay community, body weight is an issue but Paolo Amante accepted this and took on the hard work to improve his life.
“I speak for myself and I’m sure that other gay men can relate, that in the ‘gay world’ there is a lot of pressure to be fit and good looking.”
“I like to think of myself as an ugly duckling that changed through a lot of hard work.
“Yes I have stretch marks, yes I have acne scars but all in all, I’ve learnt to accept and love myself, I learnt to ignore the negative aspects in my life.”
Amante has also admitted he struggled coming out as gay and he wishes to utilize becoming a finalist in the Mr Gay New Zealand competition to raise awareness about the issues for young LGBT people in coming out.
“Young LGBT still need more support and understanding from their families, schools and community.
“I really want to win Mr. Gay NZ; as for me, it’s more than just a title.
“It gives the opportunity to create positive awareness of the LGBT community.
I would be so excited to represent New Zealand on the world stage as I’m so proud of what an amazing country we have, especially with its historical supports for personal freedom and diversity.”
Amante is a sportsman and is also about to embark on a double major in a bachelor of arts in psychology & Spanish at University.
He is excited to be a part of this wonderful competition and believes it is going to be a great stepping stone for whoever wins Mr Gay New Zealand on February 14.
“It’s not about looks,” Amante made clear in his interview with eikon.
“We are being judged in our ability to engage with the LGBT community, community outreach, public speaking, natural leadership and a positive persona to become a role model and a leader that our community can be proud of.”
Public voting for the people’s choice portion of the competition will begin this coming Monday with the winner announced at the LYC Big Gay Out on Sunday 14 February in Auckland.
The winner will head to Malta in April to compete in the Mr Gay World competition.
For more information visit www.mrgaynewzealand.com