‘I’m the celebrity here’

CityPress - - News - LEON SADIKI leon.sadiki@city­press.co.za

Don’t take a walk with Ycer (stage name) Machi­mana through the vil­lage of Mok­goloboto out­side Tza­neen if you’re in a hurry. The 28-yearold is fre­quently stopped for ac­knowl­edge­ment and a chat. “I’m the celebrity here,” says Machi­mana, re­fer­ring to her home vil­lage in Lim­popo.

The trans­gen­der woman, a for­mer male-pageant con­tes­tant and model, has swapped her dread­locks and suits for make-up, flow­ing weaves and colour­ful dresses.

Machi­mana is upfront about her gen­der iden­tity. She says her com­mu­nity has em­braced her. Sup­port­ive fam­ily mem­bers in­clude her mother, who is also her “best friend”.

Machi­mana, the 2015 Miss Gay Jozi pageant win­ner, re­cently trav­elled 420km to Joburg to hand the crown to her suc­ces­sor, Roxy Msizi (21), from Chiawelo, Soweto.

It was sec­ond time lucky for Msizi at the 2016 Miss Gay Jozi pageant, which took place at the Jo­han­nes­burg City Hall at the end of last month.

“I have a voice now; peo­ple lis­ten to you when you in­vite them to LGBTI [les­bian, gay, bi­sex­ual, trans­gen­der and in­ter­sex] events be­cause of this ti­tle,” says Msizi.

Jerome Camp, co-founder of the pageant, started Miss Gay Jozi to put Jo­han­nes­burg on the map, in line with other pro­vin­cial gay pageants in the coun­try. It has grown to an event that at­tracts par­tic­i­pants as far as Lim­popo.

He de­scribes it as a “great suc­cess”, the re­sult of “ex­tra­or­di­nary per­for­mances by the di­vas”.

“Pity about the lack of sup­port, es­pe­cially from our own com­mu­nity, who are of­ten more crit­i­cal,” says Camp. The pageant is in its fourth year. »

HOME AGAIN Miss Gay Jozi 2015 win­ner Ycer Machi­mana from Mok­goloboto vil­lage in Tza­neen. She is flanked by chil­dren play­ing foot­ball in the Lim­popo vil­lage

Jozi 2016, Roxy Msizi Last year’s win­ner, Ycer Machi­mana (left), con­grat­u­lates the newly crowned Miss Gay

STAND­ING TALL There was no short­age of high heels PASS­ING ON THE HON­OUR

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