by Angie Gallagher

The 18th annual Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Arts Festival took place from 24 to 26 May this year, and this year the focus fell primarily on the Mr. Gay World 2018 competition, which took place in the week leading up to the Pink Loerie, and reached its climax with the crowning of a new Mr. Gay World at the Grand Finale, held at Villa Castollini on 26 May.

Australia’s Jordan Bruno took the top spot among 19 delegates from a host of different countries, with New Zealand’s Ricky Devine-White and India’s Samarpan Maiti being the first and second runners-up respectively.

Although Mr. Gay World was one of this year’s highlights at the Pink Loerie, it was by no means the only one. The Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Arts Festival Street Parade and Street Party is always a high point for both participants and spectators, and this year wasn’t any different. The festivities kicked off with performances by local artists at Vinyl on Main, before the rainbow took to the streets.

Israeli songstress, Lina, entertained the crowd with a performance during the street party, following a colourful parade from Queen Street to Pledge Square. Like every year, Knysna locals and visitors lined the streets and enthusiastically cheered on the floats. The Mr. Gay World delegates, dressed in their national costumes, were immensely popular among the crowd.

Prior to the parade, Gay Pages journalist, Kevin du Plessis, was chosen as Mr. Mardi Gras 2018 at Vinyl on Main, and Layla Raja Novacek was chosen as Miss Mardi Gras 2018. This competition again saw spectacular performances by Betty Bangles and the Queens of Wigstock.

The Queens of Wigstock, headed by the fabulous Betty Bangles, took centre stage a few times during Pink Loerie 2018, with a number of performances at Vinyl on Main and The Project Bar that enthralled the audience every time.

An expertly curated exhibition at Knysna Fine Art seemed to tie in perfectly with the Pink Loerie, as anyone who attended it will confirm.

Friday evening’s theme party and the official S&M After Party on Saturday, both held at Vinyl on Main, were sponsored by the gay dating app Hornet, and ended the weekend’s events with a bang.

All in all, the Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Arts Festival 2018 was a showcase for the LGBTQ+ community in all its variety. The Knysna Municipality’s commitment to and support of the event was evident, as the Mayor of Knysna, Eleanore Bouw-Spies repeatedly stated that Knysna embraces diversity. The festival may be over for now, but feathers, sequins and glitter will probably still glam up the streets of Knysna for weeks to come.