Ryan M. Smith ‘06 may be Mr. Gay Boston, but he’s not just a pretty face... and bulging pecs...and chiseled abs.
A former member of the Harvard Men’s Swim Team, Smith didn’t come out until the end of his senior year. He was never active in Harvard’s gay community, but the Boston title fell into his hands after a friend of Smith’s tipped off Don Spradlin, Executive Director of Mr. Gay, a gay male beauty contest.
On October 26 Smith will be in Palm Springs competing against 24 Americans and 25 internationals for the title of Mr. Gay. It’s a prestigious (and succinct) distinction, but Smith insists he’s not feeling the heat. “I’m not nervous, not at all,” he says.
To beat out the field, Smith will need to scale a rock climbing wall, make it through a fireman’s obstacle course, and dazzle the judges in a swimsuit competition.
It sounds a bit like a Village People casting call, but Smith sees the competition as an opportunity to transcend gay cliches.
“I like the idea that I’m portraying a different image of the gay male to the general viewing public,” he says. “A lot of the contestants are more educated or career-oriented than the current stereotype of gay males.”
Smith’s ex-boyfriend and close friend, Tyler Duckworth, has already achieved marginal fame with a stint on MTV’s The Real World Key West, but he’s still right behind his man.
“I think it’s fantastic. It’s fucking fantastic,” Duckworth says. “Because he’s gorgeous. Everyone should see that kid in a Speedo walking down the runway.”
With a win in Palm Springs, Smith will get his own 15 minutes of fame appearing on the cover of Instinct magazine, a queer monthly. But he does not need the exposure: when not working out to prepare for the competition, Smith is busy applying to medical schools in the Boston area.