Bruce Hayes opens the closet for all of us

This just in–the second annual Mr. Gay Philadelphia–will also be going Olympic. While all eyes might think that they’ll be on Beijing, we’ll all be meeting and greeting Bruce Hayes, the the first American Olympic gold medalist to “come out of the closet,” as a judge on August 8 at UArts’ Gershman Y, 104 S. Broad St., Center City. Producers Bruce Yelk, BUCKmoney’s James Duggan and yours truly are delighted that Hayes will join fellow queer celebrity judges Michael Musto, Mickey Boardman, Jack Mackenroth, Jesse Archer, and David Moretti who will decide who will be Mr. Gay Philadelphia representing our city at the 2008 North American Mr. Gay contest in Los Angeles in October.

Entertaining the audience throughout the evening will be Sirius queer radio talk personality Frank DeCare as master of ceremonies who will be sharing the stage with local drag personality Brittany Lynn as mistress of ceremonies.

A member of the 1984 U.S. Olympic Swimming Team, Hayes won a gold medal swimming the anchor leg on the 800 freestyle relay setting a world record. The relay proved to be one of the most memorable moments of the Los Angeles Games, winning the Phillips 66 Performance Award for the best swimming event of the year. Once Hayes came out publicly as queer, his story received enormous national media coverage. From then, he conitnued to participate as an athelete at the 1990 Gay Games in Vancouver, Canada, and the 1994 Gay Games in New York City. it was there that he served as the athlete spokesperson for the event, appearing at fundraising events all over the world and in countless media reports. Hayes has consistently lent his name and support to gay causes, and spoken openly in the mainstream and gay media about his experiences as a gay athlete, breaking down steoretypes and myths that permeate the world of sports. Not surprisingly, he was included in Out Magazine’s list of the 100 most influential gays and lesbians in America in 1994.

Want to be a contestant? All contestants in the Philadelphia Mr. Gay competition will participate in two rounds of competition — evening wear and swimwear. These rounds will be scored individually by a panel of esteemed local judges and aggregated to select five finalists. These finalists will return to the stage to for a Q&A session conducted by the judges. Following the final round of competition, scores from all three rounds will be aggregated to crown the winner.

The individual entrance fee is $50, and the competition is open to any member of the gay community from the Philadelphia region, southern New Jersey or Delaware. Philadelphia Mr. Gay will receive free airfare to Los Angeles for the national competition, the champion of which will represent the United States in Mr. Gay International.

And what about giving something back to the communty? We do and we are–giving a portion of the proceeds from year’s event to benefit two of the city’s most outstanding charitable organizations, including Action
AIDS.

For contestants; application and ticket purchase ($30-$60 in advance), visit nightlifegay.com

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