At the beginning of the new millennium, Theatron—the biggest gay disco in Colombia—founded Miss Gay International, a competition for which men travel to Bogota from across Colombia for a sexy drag showdown. The most recent competition occurred back in August 2013.
Although the drag competition allows plastic surgery, the men are required to dress, act, and move like women without the use of female hormones, under pageant rules. Each contestant is given a medical examination upon arrival.
For its most recent showdown in the later part of summer, nineteen men under the age of twenty-seven showed up to compete. Although all of the men were Colombian, each “represented” a different country, including Canada, Panama, and Costa Rica.
The queens were judged on a variety of criteria: 40 percent of the score was based on the transformation itself, while 30 percent was based on costume. 20 percent of the individual score was based on the attitude of the contestant, as well as their performance during two preliminary interviews. The remaining 10 percent went to crowd reaction.
The winner of the 2013 competition was a 21-year-old named Maria Antonia Cadavid, who came from a small city near Medellin. Cadavid brought home approximately $930 for securing the queen’s throne.
However, even with its huge annual drag race (according to Colombia Reports) the country isn’t nearly as liberal regarding the LGBT community as some are led to believe. The news site reports that while some LGBT citizens have been able to take advantage of their full legal rights, “many civil servants are obstructive,” finding excuses to avoid performing the “factual matrimonial union” ceremonies for gay couples. Despite its recent hailing in American press as a “gay travel hotspot,” the majority of Colombian society remains intolerant of sexual diversity.
All photos taken by Viviana Peretti. View original Newsweek article here.