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This is Cape Town.  Much like San Francisco, it’s also the gay capital of South Africa and last night was the Miss Gay Western Cape beauty pageant finals.  It was held at the Athlone community center just off Klipfontein Road.  I have never been to one before and when I heard about it at the beginning of the year I was intrigued and wanted to know more about the other side of society that I very rarely get into contact with.  So when my friend told me he was going, I just couldn’t let the chance slip by.

The event has been going on for two years now after a seven year long break since the naughty nineties.  We got there at 18h30 and got to see the contestants as they came in.  Slowly but surely the fans, family members, friends and contestants filtered in and I gradually found myself feeling somewhat under dressed and very bare faced.  It was an experience of note.  Everyone was in their best, and obviously very happy to be there.  Maybe that’s why it’s called gay and gay they were, drinking wine, sampling the hors d’oeuvres and generally being merry, loving the limelight.

As the evening wore on, I no longer saw them as men dressed up as women but rather as people who they wanted to present themselves as.  Names such as Janet Jackson, Camille Campbell, Gabriella Marquez and Eva Esperanza came to the fore.  I used to lump all of them in one category but after spending some time with them, their unique personalities came out.  Some were flamboyant and over the top while others were coquettish and shy.  The effort that went into it all from the preparation of their headpieces right down to their shoes makes one realise that no matter what society may think of them, all they want is to be glamorous and be noticed, much like any other woman.