A Mr Gay New Zealand finalist is hoping to use his platform to raise awareness around homelessness within the country’s sexual and gender diverse community.

Twenty-five-year-old Rotorua-based Cody Jarvie, who was selected as one of the ten finalists in this year’s competition, said he entered to help create a positive change as a role model within the LGBTI community.

“We have a small LGBTI community in Rotorua but we have a big heart,” he said in a report by the NZ Herald.

“I want to get Rotorua to back me as much as I can. I hope that it gives others the confidence to enter.”

Each finalist in the Mr Gay New Zealand competition was asked to write an article on a topic of their choice and Jarvie chose queer homelessness.

“It’s something I feel strongly about and it’s a growing epidemic,” he said.

In Australia 42 per cent of LGBTI youth have thought about self-harm and/or suicide and 16 per cent have attempted suicide.

They often face bullying and for those rejected by their families, can be at risk of becoming homeless.

As a result of the stigma, discrimination, and violence faced by many members of the community, 40 per cent of young homeless people identify as LGBTI.

Producer of the Mr Gay New Zealand competition Matt Fistonich said the event was about reaching out to more vulnerable members of the LGBTI community, such as youth.

“This isn’t a beauty contest, it’s about community outreach,” he said.

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