Boene Ntshilo, a 20-something banker from Northcliff, has been crowned Miss Gay Jozi 2017; taking home Gauteng’s most prestigious drag pageant title.
Ntshilo, who is also a singer, competed against 15 other finalists to win the coveted prize at a glittering ceremony at the Simply Blue nightclub on Saturday night.
Under the theme of a “Festival of Colours” the pageant kicked off with a Bollywood-influenced introduction to the contestants, who also took part in swimwear and evening wear segments.
The top six were then each asked a question from the judges about pressing issues and challenges facing the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community.
The show also included performances by the likes of singer Roaun Justin Powell, Sjarmante Diamante, Labelz D’Glamore, the S.A.T. Divas, and, of course, the inimitable host Zsa-Zsa Whitney Gabor-Houston.
At the end of the night, an emotional Ntshilo emerged victorious as the Queen. She was followed by Crystal Guns, as 1st Princess, and Ntokazy Tshabalala, the 2nd Princess.
Ntshilo, who is originally from Schweizer-Reneke, had competed in the pageant twice before and came second last year. “I was overjoyed,” she says about the moment her name was finally called out as the winner. “I was in disbelief. I had a great deal of emotion and I didn’t know how to contain it.”
Ntshilo explained that she entered the pageant because of how it empowers its contestants. “It groomed me to be more confident. Growing up I used to have self-esteem issues, and my sister advised me to enter a pageant to improve myself.”
According to Ntshilo, Miss Gay Jozi has an important role to play in the community. “It allows us to come together. It is important that we get to know other LGBT people and their stories and backgrounds, and to build bonds amongst the contestants.”
She added: “It feels great to be amongst people that I am similar to. I don’t feel so different. Miss Gay Jozi taught me so much about myself and showed me that other people have gone through the same experiences as I did; we suffered the same pain, the same differences and the same upbringing. We can relate to each other.”
As for the issues that she plans to address during her reign, one stands out for her; internal discrimination and stigma within the LGBT community itself.
“Whether you are straight acting or a feminine guy, we are all gay and we need to treat other well first before we expect others to accept us and love us. I want us to understand each other as gay people. There is discrimination amongst ourselves and we need to correct that. We need to build each other up.”
Ntshilo also hopes that the win will give her fledgling music career a boost. “As a singer trying to penetrate the industry I’m trying to challenge the doors closed to me. Because of my sexuality, I have suffered doors closing. We as gay people have to work ten times harder. Why should our talent be overlooked?” she asked.