Cody Jarvie - one of 10 finalists of the Mr Gay New Zealand competition - wants to use his platform to highlight the issue of LGBT+ homelessness.
“It’s something I feel strongly about and it’s a growing epidemic,” Jarvie tells the New Zealand Herald.
The Mr Gay New Zealand contestants compete across five main categories: engagement, community outreach, public speaking, leadership ability and Mana.
The Maori word 'Mana' has a complex definition but is often understood to mean honour, respect, power and prestige.
According to the competition, “The Mana of a candidate is assessed ensuring the future Mr. Gay New Zealand will have a positive persona to become a role model and leader that the community can be proud of.”
The Mr Gay New Zealand website also explicitly notes that it is “not a beauty contest”.
“A candidate’s physical appearance in not assessed at any stage of the competition and does not form part of the judging criteria,” the site says.
Jarvie - from Rotorua - says he wanted to become a role model by entering the contest.
“We have a small LGBT community in Rotorua but we have a big heart. I want to get Rotorua to back me as much as I can. I hope that it gives others the confidence to enter.”
The competition’s 2017 producer Matt Fistonich says, “Cody is great. He cares about homelessness which is disproportionate amongst LGBT youth. He also stands up for rainbow youth issues such as body image.”
Mr Gay New Zealand will be announced at the Big Gay Out event in Auckland on February 12.
The winner will also represent NZ at the Mr Gay World event in Madrid in May.