The annual Miss Gay Jozi pageant crowned its 2015 queen on Saturday night; a 27-year-old model from Midrand.
Ycer Machimana took home the title in a glittering event filled with glamorous drag performances and plenty of diva sparkle at the Wits Theatre in Johannesburg.
Originally from Tzaneen, she beat out stiff competition, including the likes of Eva, who was crowned the 1st Princess, and Ceasare, chosen as the 2nd Princess.
Machimana told Mambaonline on Tuesday that her win seems unreal.
“It’s still sinking in. I am so excited and still in shock,” she said. “I had so many things go through my mind when I made the top six. I was shaking, I couldn’t think… And when they called out my name, I thought ‘thank God, I made it!'”
Machimana revealed that she hopes to use her title not only to pursue a career in television but to also make a difference in the LGBT community.
“I love pageants, but you must also use the title for the people around you. I want to work with gay youth, especially those who have been disowned by their parents, family and friends,” she said.
“Society doesn’t always take LGBT people seriously, but I believe that we are capable and we are human beings and we must be respected,” Machimana added.
Miss Gay Jozi 2015 Ycer Machimana (centre) flanked by her princesses (Pic: David Penney)
Jerome Camp, owner of club Simply Blue and organiser of the pageant, commented that while it has grown steadily in quality over the years the event continues to struggle with a lack of support. He urged the LGBT community to participate in and attend initiatives like Miss Gay Jozi.
“It is really a pity that we as gay people are sometimes our own worst enemies,” he said. “We need to support each other and our events vigorously; otherwise we will be a dying society with no hope for the future.”
Camp called on “those in influential positions and who are out,” to attend LGBT functions. As a “minimally sponsored event we rely on their appearances to elevate our plight,” he explained.
Camp pointed out that Saturday’s pageant, the third in its history, was purposely held close to Monday’s Africa Day.
“This pageant is and will remain a means of expressing our freedom, which is enshrined in the constitution, and it is a message to homophobic Africa,” he said.