Woman takes male pageant title

A woman who identifies herself as lesbian was crowned as the gender-bending Mr NWU (North West University) 2019, starting a heated debate around beauty pageants.

Hope Nokuthula Bhuda was crowned Mr NWU at the university's Mahikeng campus on Saturday. The application for this year's Mr and Miss NWU challenged not only beauty standards but also gender and sexuality under the slogan #BreakTheCode.

A poster advertising the event and encouraging students to enter read: "Are you shorter than your friends? Are you a member of LGBTI+ family? Are you a human being? Are you bigger than size 32?"

Speaking to Sowetan yesterday, NWU spokesperson Louis Jacobs said the university strongly promotes "gender and sexuality awareness".

"Gender and sexuality awareness is a critical component of the diversity focus of the NWU and we respect the rights of all our staff and students to express themselves in whatever way they wish to.

"Management has taken note of issues raised by certain stakeholders regarding the crowning of Mr NWU Mahikeng [at] the weekend, and is awaiting a report from the organisers of the event, after which the matter will be handled from there," she said.

Pageant organiser Tshepo Batlang confirmed he put together the event but declined to comment further, referring Sowetan to Jacobs. "I'm part of the SRC of the university. Please talk to spokesperson of the university," Batlang said.

Bhuda also said: "I'm not allowed to comment at this point and until further notice, no comment."

Taking to Facebook after her win at the weekend, she wrote: "Young King The Crown is yours. You've been chosen."

On social media, the win was met with polarising views. "Word on the streets [is] that you got such a brave character. you inspire me," Lynette Ngwenya wrote on Facebook.

"How can a woman be allowed to enter a men's competition?..." @Abuti_Katlego asked on Twitter.

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