Flying the Aussie flag at Mr Gay World 2014
CREATED ON // Saturday, 16 August 2014
Chris Glebatsas is the man who will be representing Australia at Mr Gay World 2014.
More than just a beauty pageant, Mr Gay World seeks to unearth leaders in the global gay community. Established in 2008, representatives are chosen in each country based on a rigorous interview process, which canvasses candidate’s values, views, history and objectives. Indeed, in this competition, it’s not just what’s on the outside that counts.
Here, SX meets this year’s Australian delegate: Chris Glebatsas.
You’ve been selected to represent Australia in Mr. Gay World. How excited are you about that?
You could say I had a bit of a Julia Roberts moment circa Oscars acceptance speech in 2000: “I want to thank everyone I ever met in my entire life”. There was also a bit of running around the room in my underwear like Matthew Broderick in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – so you can imagine what I’ll be like if I actually win the title of Mr Gay World!
What made you decide to enter and become the Australian representative?
Well I was actually nominated to represent Australia, so luckily all I had to do was say ‘yes’! But seriously though, after researching the competition and realising it is so much more than a beauty pagent and is truly a leadership competition, I felt it was a great opportunity for me to give back to the community that has been so supportive of me and our business. I have some strong views on bullying, marriage equality and the role businesses can play to help bring about reform both here and abroad and I want to use this as a platform to get those views across.
Tell us about what you do for a living.
Everyone assumes I’m a muscle jock who spends his whole life in the gym, but the thing about stereotypes is they are so often wrong. I guess I surprise most people when I tell them I have a Masters in Applied Finance, and have spent most of my life working for investment banks. More recently, I left my finance career behind and have been running our Lqd skin care business with my partner and co-founder Anthony.
Partner? Tell us about him.
I picked Anthony up at the gym five years ago and we have been inseparable since. We work together, we train together, we holiday together and we live together – what more can I say? We are lucky to have found each other as we have so much in common, our attitude to life, love and relationships are what bought us together. Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing, like all couples we have our ups and downs, and we have amazing fights, but it is that passion that we love in each other that keeps us together.
What do you think you can bring to the competition?
I think all my friends on social media think it’s because I look hot in a pair of speedos but I want to use how I look to hopefully gain some exposure for the Mr Gay World competition and if I win become a spokesperson and role model for young gay men. Growing up I didn’t have any gay role models I could look up to. And I think that is really important for young gay men who are going through their own struggles with acceptance both socially and with their families to know I’ve been there too. And like me they can control their destiny and become anyone they want. I was the fat unpopular kid at school who was bullied because of being fat and gay, and I’ve gone on to not only change my physical appearance, but also create a successful business and be an out and proud gay businessman, partner and father.
What do you do to relax and have fun?
We work a lot, as having a small business is all-consuming. When we aren’t working we like to spend time with our 10-year-old daughter Grace, who we co-parent with Anthony’s ex-wife Jane. Having a daughter really puts life in perspective and keeps us balanced and focused on what is most important. We still like to let our hair down occasionally, especially when we go on holiday, and having just recently discovered gay paradise – Fire Island – it has now become our new repeat holiday destination. But at home, family life keeps us really well grounded.
In keeping fit and healthy, what advice would you give other gay men out there?
The most important thing we do is stay consistent. Our lifestyle is built around healthy choices. We believe very much in the 80:20 rule – 80% of what we do is good for us and then we balance it out with 20% of fun and frivolity. This doesn’t only apply to food, health and fitness, but it’s a good lens to use for life as well. You can’t be strict 24/7, that’s just not possible nor healthy long term. Building fitness and healthy living into our lifestyle means we never have time off – it’s a part of what we do every day.
What do you have to say to gay men about love and relationships?
When I was a young man struggling to come out and trying to deal with my sexuality, one of my biggest fears was growing old alone. At the time, I didn’t know of any long term gay relationships. Five years ago I met my partner Anthony, and I can happily say I’ve found the man I want to spend the rest of my life with. It’s also one of the reasons I want to be Mr gay World, so I can push the agenda on marriage equality further than where it is today. It is unbelievable to think that in Australia, 75 per cent of the population are in support of marriage equality, and yet we have a Prime Minister who refuses to support it. He doesn’t realise the damage he is doing to families like ours. Grace should be able to say to her friends that her dads are married. We are more than just boyfriends or partners. We want to be recognised as a family unit, just like her friends’ parents. The fight for equality has come a long way, but we have a lot further to go.
Some say gay pageants are an outdated concept while others argue they are empowering and sends a strong message of pride and diversity. What are your thoughts?
Well, for a start I hate the word ‘pageant’ as it sounds like a beauty contest. This is more of a competition based around leadership skills. The biggest part of the competition is the interview process with the panel of judges which score you on your knowledge of gay history, human rights and your views on everything from illegal drug use right through to the importance of safe sex. I believe the most important part of the competition is to find the best spokesperson and role model to represent our community and really push the political agenda for equality. If I can help push the envelope or public opinion in any way towards making our society more accepting of diversity then I think that is a great outcome.
Tell us, in one sentence, the Chris Glebatsas philosophy.
Everything I do, regardless of what part of my life, is about being the best version of me that I can be. It’s the same philosophy we have in our skin care business, where we encourage people to “look the best they can”.
Final words for fans...
Vote for whomever you believe will be the best representative to advance equality in our community – but hopefully you think that is me.
Vote for Chris at the Mr Gay World website here. Mr Gay World 2014 is on August 25-31 and will be held in Rome, Italy.