Former North Okanagan resident Brian Webb is a finalist for the title of Mr. Gay Canada 2012.

Former North Okanagan resident Brian Webb is a finalist for the title of Mr. Gay Canada 2012.

Contestant seeks to inspire

Former North Okanagan resident running for title of Mr. Gay Canada 2012

A former Armstrong resident is in the running for a national title.

Brian Webb is one of six candidates vying for the crown of Mr. Gay Canada 2012.

The competition officially takes place Feb. 9 to 11 in Whistler at WinterPRIDE, but online voting is already underway at www.mrgaycanada.ca.

While he now calls Vancouver home, the North Okanagan is where Webb’s roots are – he was born in Salmon Arm, grew up in Armstrong and lived in Vernon.

Locally, he served as a board member of the North Okanagan Gay and Lesbian Organization, and as a peer counsellor at YouthGlo, an organization dedicated to helping lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth in the North Okanagan.

Webb, who was the marketing manager at Silver Star for seven years, now provides marketing in Vancouver. He is also a active blogger in the LGBT online community.

“When it was announced I was a finalist I knew this was great news to share with my hometown community,” said the 33-year-old Webb, who combines his passions for athleticism and social media as the official spokesperson for the Underwear Affair.

“Being from a smaller community presents its own challenges for LGBT youth, with limited access to resources, community leaders, and role models.

“I hope that my nomination will inspire youth in the Okanagan to trust and believe in who they are, build their confidence to follow their dreams and trust that there is an entire community rallying behind them.”

Through his blog, and life, Webb strives to increase awareness of LGBT rights and demonstrate how far they have come over the years.

ååBut, he adds, more work still needs to be done.

“I am proud to be from the Okanagan and knowing I have the support of the entire community is important and I encourage each person to cast their vote and prove they believe that together we are strong and support each other, no matter our sexuality.”

That is also what Mr. Gay Canada strives to do – create a positive image for young gay men to make a difference and be accepted within their own communities.

Webb is also in the running against a neighbouring former local.

Ryan Clayton, formerly of Salmon Arm and now living in Vancouver, is also a contender for Mr. Gay Canada.

Clayton has been facilitating groups since 2004 when he was involved with a group in Vernon called Critical Response to Racism.

In 2008, he took his training and workshop outline back to his hometown and performed a series of workshops for his old high school in Salmon Arm.

He continued to work with Gay Youth Services and with the North Okanagan-Shuswap School District.

Webb, Clayton and the four other contestants will be  judged in a fashion runway show, modelling photo shoot, fitness challenge, swimsuit show, public speaking, outreach for a local charity and online voting.