• Antony McManus and Millionaire Hot Seat host, Eddie McGuire after his win. (Nine.)Source: Nine.
“It was kind of like walking through water. Everything was in slow motion and I was in shock.”
By
Zoe Victoria

26 Nov 2021 - 4:34 PM  UPDATED 26 Nov 2021 - 5:01 PM

Antony McManus spent last night at home with his husband Ron and his three best friends as Australia discovered that he was the second contestant to win the $1 million prize on Channel 9's game show Millionaire Hot Seat.

“They thought they were just coming just to watch it with me. They had no idea, so it was quite crazy here last night I’ll tell you what…There are empty champagne bottles everywhere.”

McManus himself has had six months to come to terms with his win since the episode was filmed in May. But speaking of the moment that host Eddie McGuire told him he’d won, he says:

“It was kind of like walking through water. Everything was in slow motion and I was in shock.”

After winning, McManus, who has been a prominent activist in the fight for marriage equality in Australia told McGuire; “Maybe this is a little reward for all the shit we had to go through.”

“Maybe this is a little reward for all the shit we had to go through.”

“It’s so crazy, because I thought they would edit that out,” McManus laughs.

McManus and his husband Ron van Houwelingen have bought an apartment with the winnings.

“We’ve been renting this whole time. I am 57 and my husband’s 55 and I thought ‘What the hell are we going to do as we’re getting older?’ So, it’s like a huge weight is lifted off my shoulder and I can kind of breathe a little easier and know that as long as we’re sensible – and we will be – that we’re okay.”

McManus and his husband have been together for 33 years. “We’ve always wanted to get married so we became part of an organisation called Equal Love.

“We were involved with Equal Love for quite a lot of years. And then we finally got married.”

But that wasn’t without its challenges. Before their official wedding, which took place on the first day that same-sex marriage was possible in Australia after the laws were changed in 2017, McManus and van Houwelingen had already held multiple wedding ceremonies.

When they were finally able to marry legally, McManus says, “It was surreal.” He and van Houwelingen had initially wanted a small wedding but that plan was quickly scrapped because “we wanted to make sure that people who had been so supportive of us throughout the whole fight for marriage equality, that they were there too.”

But McManus believes: “Just because we’ve got marriage equality, doesn’t mean the fight is over.”

“Just because we’ve got marriage equality, doesn’t mean the fight is over.”

When asked if he could ever have imagined that his life would be what it is today, McManus says, “Seriously, no. It’s crazy.”

But he hopes the visibility that his win on Millionaire Hot Seat has brought helps to inspire others in the LGBTQI+ community.

“For young people in the LGBTQI+ community who might be having a hard time, my message to them is that I’ve been there, and I’ve had a really hard time too, but things do get better. And I’m married to a beautiful, wonderful, supportive man and we have a good life and so you can be happy, and you can have successful relationships.”

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