It’s a long way from small town Alberta to being asked to represent your home country at an international competition to name Mr. Gay World, but Vancouver resident Josh Rimer is excited about what the future holds.
It was in 2008, when Eric Butter and Dean Nelson decided to create a global competition with a mission to demonstrate that both inward beauty and physical appearance are equally important as leadership and confidence. Butter and Nelson hoped that by bringing these men together they could raise awareness to the fact that being gay is a challenge and a fight for basic human rights. The first Mr. Gay World Competition took place in 2008 during the annual Winter Pride celebrations in Whistler.
The Courier had some questions for Rimer about his journey to Mr. Gay Canada:
Q: You’re from a small town in Alberta, was it difficult coming out there?
A: At the time it was quite difficult. Alberta has come a long way, but back in the 90's it wasn't known as being very open and accepting to the LGBT+ community. Our premier was even considering using the notwithstanding clause to keep sexual orientation out of the Alberta Individual Rights Protection Act at the time. I did still come out shortly after that though, quite a while before I moved to Vancouver. I didn't want to feel like I had some sort of dirty secret or was living a lie.
Q: When did you move to Vancouver?
A: I moved here in 2007, so it's been 11 years and I still love it!
Q: When did you start your YouTube channel?
A: I started that in 2007, as well. I had "the most discussed video of all time" that year and moved to Vancouver shortly after that happened.
Q: When did you start volunteering and who do you volunteer for?
A: I've been volunteering off and on probably since near the beginning of my time in Vancouver. I've volunteered with the Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation/Centre, the LOUD Foundation, A Loving Spoonful, AIDS Vancouver and Foundation of Hope.
Q: How did you become Mr. Gay Canada?
A: Dean Nelson, who is also Canadian — and is in charge of delegating someone from our community to take on that role.
Q: As a gay man, do you have any concerns about travelling to South Africa?
A: South Africa actually became the first jurisdiction in the world to provide constitutional protection to LGBT+ people, more than 20 years ago and they legalized same-sex marriage 10 years after that. So while there are some issues with it actually being accepted and respected, things are still better there than in many other places in the world. This is actually the third time the MGW competition has taken place in South Africa — they previously had it in Johannesburg and in Knysna without any problems and so I don't anticipate feeling unsafe or uncomfortable this time around in Cape Town.
Q: If you did win Mr. Gay World, besides “world peace,” what would your goals be?
A: I'm hoping that throughout this process I can shine a light on some of the amazing people, organizations, events and charities that are making great things happen in the LGBT+ community. There is a lot of focus on the negative things that are taking place around the world and I'd love to put more of a spotlight on all of the positive things that are actually happening too!