A Year of Proud Living
Shaz Gerchow tells Alistair Sutton all about her year of wearing the mantle of Ms Pride 2012.
Shaz Gerchow, winner of the inaugural Ms Pride event last year, is looking forward to this year’s competition during which she will not be competing but acting as one of the judges.
“It’s been a wonderful experience and privilege representing the community over the last 12 months,” Gerchow says. “I met many wonderful people and got to hear their experiences. I spoke at International Lesbian Day and have attended many other events for the LGBTIQ community. Being the first Ms Pride made it even more special for me.”
The title, overseen by City Lickers and Brisbane Pride, seeks a charismatic, positive and confident woman to act as a lesbian spokesperson for the Brisbane Pride Festival. It’s decided over the course of a series of heats where contestants need to articulate what Pride means to them and how they believe they can best serve the community.
“Last year contestants not only had to answer questions but also wear an outfit they feel sums them up, as well as an outfit they feel most sexy in,” says Gerchow. “At the final on Fair Day I performed a 90 second show where I spoke about rainbows which are comprised of millions of tiny droplets which together make something beautiful. I compared this to our rainbow community, which in the sum of its parts is something significant and wonderful.”
This year the format will be much the same and certainly the finals, being held on Pride Fair Day (Saturday, September 21), will be a must-see event in the program.
“For any contestants this year, my only advice is just be yourself,” Gerchow says. “I have always been passionate about the LGBTIQ community and the opportunity to increase visibility of lesbian issues especially was sincere and heartfelt. I think the judges obviously responded to this and that got me over the line.”
The major prize this year, as it was last year, is seven nights’ accommodation at the award winning Pink Flamingo resort in Port Douglas.
But the honour of representing Brisbane Pride and being declared Ms Pride 2013 in front of the Fair Day crowd would be a buzz in itself, even without this added incentive. “The Pink Flamingo is a fantastic resort,” says Gerchow. “It’s very intimate with only two garden studios and ten one-bedroom private villas all set in beautiful lush tropical gardens.” The Resort is completely gay-owned and operated, and while it does not allow children, does allow “well behaved pets”.
The winner of Ms Pride 2013 is encouraged to attend as many LGBTIQ events as possible throughout the year to represent the title and for outreach purposes, making new contacts and networking. Gerchow says the rewards of giving back to the community have been numerous as well as being humbling. “It’s been well worth doing and something I will never forget.”
Ms Pride (and Mr Pride) will be judged on the main stage at Fair Day, September 21, 2013. www.brisbanepridefestival.com.au
IMAGE: Shaz (left) with partner Nicole.