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Sunday 11 October 2015

Chris Olwage responds

Posted in: Community
By Chris Olwage - 19th November 2013

Yesterday we published an open letter from Paul Kramer, where he asked "Could you put name to Mr Gay World’s stance on Sochi, or explain what he’s accomplished in anti-suicide activism? ... Well, I bet you know what he looks like without a shirt on!"

Chris Olwage now responds:

Dear Paul,

First of all I thank you for having time to read the blogs though I feel that maybe I have been misinterpreted somewhat. Please allow me the chance to clarify a few points.

Your two main concerns, the problem of privilege and of body image.

To the latter, I agree with much you have to say, in reading my own writings it does may appear that I put much into the transformative powers of healthy eating and physical exercise. But do not mistaken my intentions with this. I offer it up as an example of how I was able to transform myself into into something else. My transformation came about because I could not love the person I was and the pain in that was immense. I could not live the way I was going. My obese body was the door the bullies used to get to me, I was constantly ridiculed, beaten, played and abused. I cried most mornings for fear of school day to come, and always spent the last five minutes before recess trying to remain calm whilst the fear caused an ever expanding lump in my throat. My feelings as a social pariah came from the emotional abuses that I had been directed at me because I had become so large. My immensity was an easy victim. I did however eventually learn to accept who I was, for what I was and then knew that because I saw myself as such I could progress onward. After accepting myself I learnt about myself and grew to love myself. Learning to love yourself is the first step to achieve greatness in any facet of life. I began to lose weight slowly and then by finding things that I loved to do I was able to transform. My physical manifestation therefore is in part due to the fact that I work in an industry where it is almost requisite to look so, but it also suffices to say that my classes model me to the exercises that I teach. I am a by-product of what I love to do, Dance, train and Perform. I take great pride in being more than just a dancer/trainer/gym goer too though.

I applaud the fact that we celebrate all sorts of body types within the gay community as you mentioned. I have many a friend who knows no need to do anything other than be comfortable within themselves. They find others of like mind even more attractive. This kind of self-acceptance and self-love is inspiring and I merely aid those who seek it through the fitness world to find it. I really think that we are so diverse and different and whether you are chub, otter, bear, femme, jock, boy-next-door or whatever that we find a way to accept each other. It is true that some people may never have the coveted six-pack nor the swollen bicep and I never said they would. Nor do I propose that in any way it is better to have said vantages. Only that people were so quick to judge me because I did. A lot of those people were members of our collective community too.

Media has played a great way of enforcing our ideas on the subject to an acquired ideal but I have always been a teacher of love yourself! I might add that my personal belief as a trainer is that I want to help create healthier people not perfect people. I want people of all sizes and ages to embrace healthier lifestyles to safe-guard their bodies against deterioration as well being able to do the things that they love. This has nothing to do with physical outward perfection, but everything to do with matching physical ability with wants, so that we receive the emotional and social rewards.

I believe I am more than my body but I am grateful to my body for allowing me to find and express myself in ways that were previously closed to me. It is not my place to try and convince everyone that physical perfection is the way, the truth and the light. What I was merely trying to say is that in order for any change to occur one needs to accept one's self first.

My current work with the youth is do with self-love and self-acceptance, maybe if you are interested you could come watch me speak at the YOUTH FEST for YOUTHLINE on Dec 2nd.

My personal Projects for the youth are yet unspoken of because there is much preparation to be done, some underway and much still unclear. Being a Phd student I think you might understand that preparations must be made, drafts constructed, then challenged, redrawn and then proffered. Being handed a title doesn't suddenly mean that works will suddenly happen, there is no limitless funding well, nor team to back me up and do the hard yards. So if you feel so strongly about it maybe we could work together and collaborate on issues you feel I have missed or maybe help me see possible avenues that I have been previously blind to?

As to the former problem of privilege:

I realize that I'm somewhat privileged now: I have loving parents, access to education, a job and so many other things, in such I am able to enjoy life. Though to speak as if you know my circumstance and the entirety of my life's journey I fear you do yourself a great injustice. Whilst I am not comfortable to put my entire life's story out on the line for people to gobble up with an apathetic demeanour, I am willing to stand up and be a voice, for such I was chosen.

It is a maddeningly predestined circumstance that I have been thrust into, I cannot solve the world's woes by myself. I can make considerable efforts in attempt to ease the unfortunate lot for some, I can even try to change the demeanour of another. I can try and maybe sway someone's dismal disposition and teach and inform hundreds even thousands about the issues we face. If you are wondering about my stances on the Sochi Olympic Games read my latest and very first blog, if there is something else you want to know then write to me and ask. All in all I am only me and I made a stand to do something about the situation. Part of my stand encourages others to do so too!

One does not need a title to do great works, in fact, I encourage all to do their piece for LGBTI issues.

So again Paul, thank you for giving me the opportunity to explain myself more fully, and whether this changes your resolve on the matter I may never now. But, I would be more than happy for you to work with me and to help me to see more than I apparently do and maybe you could even come up with suggestions as to how we could combat the situation together. I am only a man but together we are an army.

I have always encouraged communication within my blogs, I want our community to actively speak to me, make me aware, proffer ideas and help keep me informed.

If you the reader of this response would like to do so contact me via

Faithfully yours,

Chris Olwage,
Mr Gay World

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Chris Olwage - 19th November 2013