The Mr Gay South Africa competition is a nation-wide event aimed at increasing LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex) visibility in South Africa. The success of the 2009–2010 crowned winner on the international gay pageant stage has drawn attention to this newly-instated annual event. This paper analyses online queer press sources to offer a reading of what the pageant represents in relation to the role that the media plays and a historical contextualisation of queer visibility in South Africa. It argues that the pageant, although geared toward achieving positive visibility, propagates an assimilationist strategy that ensures the perpetuation of gay identity – as representative for all queer identity – as based on an essentialised and commercialised transnational understanding of homosexuality. The paper ultimately concludes that online representations of the pageant resist the potentially positive development of sexual visibility in South Africa.


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pp. 44-68
Launched on MUSE
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