Article Title:Meet A.J. Marsh – the new Mr. Gay Wellington!
Author or Credit:Matt Akersten
Published on:17th April 2007 - 12:00 pm
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Story ID:1675
Text:29-year-old Allan-John (A.J.) Marsh was named ‘Mr. Gay Wellington 2007' at Imerst nightclub on Saturday 14th April. Congrats A.J.! What was the competition night like for you? What did you have to do on stage to win? I was pleased that the night had finally arrived as I'd had butterflies in my stomach all day, so much so that I couldn't really do much or concentrate or anything. Once we got on stage for the opening music number, my nerves were restored. I don't know what I had to do on stage to win but there were four sections and we were told that appearance and being able to present completely different looks were important. I live in the country so, for casual wear, I got all the ‘Fred Dagg'-like clothes that I could muster and went out with a stuffed sheep. I went colourful and tidy with party wear. I really tried for laughs with swimwear, bringing out my fins and snorkel. I was really nervous actually about going on stage in swimwear as I'm quite self-conscious about my body, especially as I used to be really large, but after getting up there, that fear diminished and there were a few hot guys at the front yelling at me to “take it off!” That always helps eh! I wore my old school ball outfit for evening wear which, I was relieved to find, managed to fit me again after years of being too small. I just tried to be myself and not present someone that I wasn't as a lot of my friends were there and they know who I am and who I'm not. What prizes did you win? Flowers and a sash on the night. I don't really know what most of the other prizes are and I probably won't get them for a while. I know that there's champagne and chocolate! I was approached by a bloke from a salon who introduced himself and said that I'd won product and services from his salon, which is champion, but I like the woman I go to and I don't think that I can justify paying more than $15 on my hair. So do you have any duties to perform as Mr Gay Wellington? Appearances, hosting events, photoshoots in undies etc? I've been told that I should avail myself for some photographs this week. Other than that, I don't know anything yet. I do expect that I will be approached to appear at certain events and present an Out and Proud face of queer Wellington, much like James has done, and I will not let the LGBT community down in that. I think that this was a serious event for a title that holds much weight and has the backing and support of the LGBT community of Wellington as much as other regions lend support to their own Mr and Ms Gay winners or similar capacities. For that reason, I will get involved as much as I can. I would love it if there were a Mr Gay New Zealand! I don't think though that many people want to see me in my undies either! I'd like a bit of notice first so that I can spend a day at the gym before such photos were taken - not a good role-model for size-conscious people I guess! But, I am comfortable with my body and Thomas likes it, even though I'll never have a body like Mr Gay Auckland! What's the gay nightlife like in Wellington? Do you go out a lot? Rhys has done an amazing job with iMerst. We go there every other week for a drink with friends. The colour and décor has a style that's modern and exciting too in a way. I adore Our Bar! It's so spacious and warm, and we go there a lot too to meet people and eat. We'll not go to town and hit one bar without going to the other. Both compliment our community well as Our Bar is great for early evening drinking, eating and socialising, and then one can go to iMerst to finish the night off. Thomas really loves The Lanes and, as I used to bowl with the Wellington rainbow bowlers, we go there now on Sundays for Pride Night (which could use more lesbians! hint hint). Mr Gay Wellington was the first time that I've been clubbing in Wellington since Pound closed, a bar that we both really miss, but that's life. We live north of Upper Hutt and it can become a chore to drive back into town so we now tend to stay home and invite friends over. We're planning in the near future to rebuild our garage with a sleep-out attached that we'll use as a games room with bar and the like, reigniting for me what I remember as a child in the 80s when a lot of people whom we knew turned their garages into games rooms with pool tables, big screen TVs and the like. When that happens, we'll be able to offer our mates more of a reason to visit! When did you come out as gay, and what was it like for you at the time? I came out at my 21st. It was scary but nobody cared and I got over it. I eased myself ‘out' in other situations like at university and work, but have been totally out to everyone for several years. How's your husband – and married life? It's hard for me to conceptualise what Thomas is like and how he is as it wouldn't do him justice. He is finishing his BSc this year and studying really bloody hard, although he still manages to work Saturdays as we can't survive on my income along without that. He's never angry, never sad and I've never seen him cry. He's always smiling, always positive and always bloody gorgeous. I think the world of him and would lay my life down in a second for him. He's everything to me and I can't wait for the rest of my life with him and the family that we'll eventually have. I know that this sounds really soppy but it's how I feel and, if you've ever been in love, you'll know what I'm talking about. As for married life? We have an amazing married life, and it is a married life, in practice if not by name. We're no different to a straight married couple: we work hard, pay our bills, struggle with a mortgage, argue over chores and don't have sex. Ha! Kidding. I really recommend this life to those in our community who'd contemplate it. I know that it's not for everyone, and I respect that, but give your criticism some basis or at least keep your views to yourself if all you can do is rip down the institution of marriage or civil unions because we value this life so much and we have been a part of the struggle to get this right, and it's not something that we've entered into lightly but rather thought about long and hard, even though we knew that it was for us.     Matt Akersten - 17th April 2007
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