Mr Gay Hong Kong 2013

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He’s handsome, he’s hot and he’s got a heart of gold. This year’s Mr Gay Hong Kong, who was crowned at Central’s Armani/Prive just a couple of weeks ago, is setting the bar high for future contestants. He’s got it all – the charm, the bod, the sense of humour and, most importantly, the heart. Michael Morrill is a giver – something he’s already proven by his myriad of charitable works.

But who is our new MGHK? Hailing from the USA, Morrill – who has lived in Hong Kong for five years now – went to school in Wisconsin, Germany and Senegal. And while in Senegal he helped a small village – Keur Amath Asta – develop a viable agricultural structure so the inhabitants could maintain a sustainable economy. “The former MGHK played Tarzan,” says the 35-year-old. “I was actually Tarzan in the jungle! I had to capture my own food by putting machetes to monitor lizards.” 

Then there’s Morill’s work with micro-finance fundraising charity Wokai later in his life, plus his current work with InterNations and Vision First, where he’s helping asylum seekers in Hong Kong through rooftop farming – on his own rooftop. He’s growing the whole shebang – passion fruit, basil, pepper, mint and more, and it’s all being sold to help fund Vision First. 

And if all that isn’t enough, Morrill has been an educator for 12 years, broadening bright young minds across the world. He’s planning to open his own learning centre by the end of this year – aptly named the Rainbow Learning Centre. So now, with his new title, he reckons he’s more than ready to take a proactive role advocating LGBT rights and combatting homophobia in Hong Kong – something he admits falling victim to. During his college years in Wisconsin, he was ambushed and assaulted by a group of men wielding baseball bats before being thrown over a ledge and pretty much left for dead. “The most important part of that experience,” he admits, “is I haven’t made myself a victim out of it. Instead, I chose to overcome it.”

Rising above adversity seems to be a trend for Morrill, who has been living with HIV for eight years. This makes him the first ever HIV positive MGHK. We put this to him: “You mean Mr HIV? I think advocating HIV awareness, talking about prevention and helping people seek support is what I’m meant to do. Am I worried if parents or teachers at my school find out? I am, but the good that comes from my heart and soul definitely outweighs the potential negativity of what can come from people’s ignorance and intolerance. You can say I’m fairly positive about being positive.”

Morrill speaks five languages: English, French, German, Korean and Wolof (a Senegalese dialect). And he’s obsessed with blueberries. One evening he bought 20kg from Yau Ma Tei market so he could reminisce about his home state of Maine as well as stock up on ingredients for what he likes to do best – bake. “Do you want to try my muffins?” he asks us. “Whenever I’m stressed out or need to relax, I bake.” And it’s serious baking. He comes armed with a book of secret family recipes passed down through the generations.
When he’s not trying to save the world, Morrill is a single guy who likes yoga and meditation. But he really does want to help make a better society here in Hong Kong – which what his upcoming project, The Pink Philanthropist, aims to do. Talk about setting the bar high…Arthur Tam

Support Morrill’s charity work at facebook.com/thepinkphilanthropist. To find out more about the Rainbow Learning Centre, email him at mmorrill78@gmail.com. 

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