With the emergence of South Africa as a major player in global gay culture, Lustralboy follows up last months’s chat with Conraad Jonas with a new interview this month. The interviewee: his bf and Mr. Gay South Africa finalist, Karl-Heinz Michel.
Where are you currently living and with whom?
I currently reside in Centurion, South Africa. I live with my amazing boyfriend, Conraad Jonas, in an apartment we built up together into a home.
Have you completed your education?
No – I am currently a final-year psychology student, after which I would like to pursue my Masters and Doctorate, specialising in “Relationship Guidance & Couple’s Counselling” – so as to render specialised services to gay couples.
Are you working?
Yes. I am a professional singer, model, writer and Master of Ceremonies (having studied performing arts at two acclaimed South African universities). I am also a former TV presenter. But, like most in the entertainment industry, I also have a “day job” (as a project coordinator).
What sports do you play?
I am not much of a sportsman, but I do consider myself a “gym bunny”. I love exercising, and having Conraad as a gym partner, is quite motivational.
What are your favourite movies/popstars/fashion labels?
I am a sucker for Gay romance films like “Shelter” and “Brokeback Mountain”. I enjoy “Queer as Folk” and my favourite book is “Alex in Wonderland” by Michel LeCroix (it is about a young gay man’s journey to self-discovery & his coming out to the world).
I have a very diverse music taste (being a singer and all), and I am not much of a “Lable Queen” – as long as I look presentable and feel comfortable in/ with what I am wearing, I am ready to paint the town pink.
Do you have any special interests or talents?
Interpersonal dynamics fascinate me, especially within the LGBTI community. I often use my experiences and observations of behaviour when writing comedy cabaret shows to be performed at the local gay venues. As for hidden talents… I can walk on my hands!
What first lured you into the arena of gay competitions?
The idea of being a role model to the gay youth of South Africa. I didn’t have that growing up, and I believe that if our community had more exemplary pioneers & peers, we could work towards changing the stereotype surrounding gay men especially.
For example, Conraad and I broadcast a message of the value of monogamy, and if we can inspire only one person to pursue this ideal, I would consider our goal reached.
How do you find being young and gay in South Africa?
An invigorating & challenging adventure! I take absolute pride in being a young gay man, and will never hide my orientation. However, I will also never throw it in anybody’s face, as it is all a matter of respect. I believe it is important for the straight world to start viewing homosexuality as normal and commonplace.
Conraad and I always hold hands when walking in public, for as long as we display a committed relationship without fear of persecution, people won’t perceive our involvement/ orientation as a sociological problem.
Before settling into your current relationship, what was your gay lifestyle?
I was, and still am, a “social butterfly”. I enjoy spending time at various gay-oriented venues. Especially whilst being Mr. Legends 2009, I always tried to set an example for others, by showing that you can have a great time partying with friends, without getting drunk beyond recognition every time, having to take drugs, or looking for one-night-stands around every corner.
When did you come out? To whom and how did you find the process?
I came out to my friends and family in 2007. Although my parents took it hard back then, NOW they accept me for who I am and recognise all my accomplishments. They absolutely adore Conraad & treat him like their own son, knowing that one day he will become their one and only son-in-law.
Coming out was one of the hardest but most rewarding things I have ever done! No regrets – it was absolutely worth it, as it reveals one’s true friends & allows you to be comfortable in your own skin.
What kind of boys do you find attractive?
Conraad! Conraad! Conraad! For me there is no other man on earth that could catch my eye! But… if I were single: a person with integrity, honesty, a sense of humour and no commitment issues, will attract me to them, regardless of their physical appearance. Good looks is a bonus, not a necessity (that may sound hypocritical given how sexy my boy is, LOL, but I mean it).
What’s your favourite way to spend an evening?
During the week – making dinner and watching a movie with my gorgeous hubby.
Over weekends – socialising with friends at one of South Africa’s many fabulous Gay clubs/ venues.
What do you see as the biggest challenge still facing the global gay community?
Being accepted as “normal” by the straight community. But, in order to accomplish this, we first need to achieve unity and live out the true meaning of “Gay Pride” in our own community.
What made you decide to enter this year’s Mr. Gay SA competition?
I just missed the cut in 2009, but after being crowned Mr Legends 2009, I knew I wanted to be an ambassador for the LGBTI community, and try to make a positive difference to our world. My passion for people and my strong convictions and beliefs propelled me to entering this prestigious competition again.
What do your family think about your participation?
They are incredibly encouraging. Both my parents even sent text messages of support when Conraad participated in one of the regional finals. It is quite reassuring to know that they are proud of my achievements, and support me in this endeavour.
If you win, what do you plan to do while you hold the title?
First and foremost, always conduct myself in a manner appropriate for upholding the good name of the competition and what it represents. I would like to use the title as a platform to get even more involved in our community, and become a more vocal activist for the causes so important to all of us.
By advocating fairness, equality, the promotion of gay rights, and by standing up against discrimination and homophobia, I hope to exert a positive difference to our world.
Is there anything else you would like to tell Lustralboy?
I would like to thank everyone who supports me in my quest, especially Conraad: Babe, you are the best thing that has ever happened to me, and may our love continue to grow.
Thank you to everyone involved with Mr Gay South Africa™, for your dedication and efforts; and thanks a million to Lustralboy for this incredible opportunity!
To everyone in South Africa, please vote for me by SMS’ing “GSA Karl” to 34008, as your votes count 25% of our final scores. Thus your continued support would be very much appreciated! Good luck to all the contestants that qualified on their true merits, for you are all worthy contenders.
Peace out, stay safe, and I hope to make you all proud!
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