Back in January of this year, I had the honor of talking to the recipient of this year’s Mr. Gay Canada 2012 People’s Choice nominee, Brian Webb. As an update, I am thrilled to report that Brain won that competition by a landslide and I am not suprised at all. This was definitely something very close to Mr. Webb’s heart as well as something he is perfect for. For as long as I have known him, Brian has carried himself in a manner befitting a role model. His blog is full of relevant, helpful, and fun stories, information, and tips. Unlike many people out there, he is someone who can walk the walk and talk the talk. There is purpose behind what he does and he knows how to use his voice to help his community.
I actually ran into Brian while I was on vacation in Chicago totally by accident and finally got the treat meeting him in person. From there, we decided it would be a great idea to update everyone on what is going on with him and how his new title has affected his life.
Q: The last time I spoke to you, you were up for Mr. Gay Canada and now you ARE the Mr. Gay Canada 2012 People’s Choice award winner. Tell me how it felt when you found out that you won.
A: It’s a great honour to have been a finalist in the Mr. Gay Canada 2012 competition. Receiving the People’s Choice Award was incredibly exciting. This award really comes to me because of my strong relationships with my online followers, friends, family, and media support I had during the competition. Their online voting gave me the win in this competition. They believed in me, and for that I am truly grateful. In the words of the event organizers, ‘Brian, you won by a landslide’. That was super exciting and is something I am extremely proud of.
Q: How have things changed for you since winning the title?
A: There are definitely more opportunities, whether that be a spokesperson for an LGBT event or to attend other events and festivals.
Q: What does the title mean to you and has that meaning changed for you from before you won?
A: As a role model and ambassador for youth and the LGBT communities, I am honoured that I can continue to provide a positive image for young gay men and continue to champion gay human rights through my blog, www.myWebbSite.ca. I will continue to attend events and raising awareness of issues facing our community and youth, including safer sex, anti-bullying and self-esteem.
Q: I know you are very active in your community with trying to bridge gaps, increase pride, and increase understanding. How does the Mr. Canada title help you do that and how will you continue to that even after your term is over?
A: Through my blog, www.myWebbSite.ca, I share the stories from the events and festivals I attend, and information on LGBT issues and rights. I’ve been blogging since 2003, and now am one of the largest independent LGBT bloggers in Canada and am very well respected in the community. As an blogger I share real issues and inspire people to think about the issues, raise awareness and take action.
Q: You have been meeting so many people and doing so many things, what has been the most touching moment you have experienced so far?
A: The most touching moment was after the competition and I spoke to my dad on the phone. He was so proud of me. Today, his mentality has completely changes. He used to hide from people that he had a gay son, but now, he proudly stands up and talks about me and introduces me.
Q: Who would you say has been the most influential person when it comes to shaping the person you are today?
A: There are many people who have influenced my life. From my family to close friends, members of the LGBT community to my mentors. It’s not a single person, rather the community of which I surround myself with – in my work and social life.
Q: What has been the most surprising thing you have gotten or that has happened to you from this experience?
A: During the competition I reached out to my home community to raise support, through social media and local news media. After I won the competition, one of the local newspapers printed a distasteful Letter to the Editor, which condoned the LGBT lifestyle and personally attacked me, infringing on my human rights, according to the Human Rights Act in British Columbia. After the letter was published, the local community was outraged! The newspaper was flooded with emails and letters from people who personally knew me and others who were aware of my story or ally’s of the LGBT community. I shared the article on social media, asking people to weigh in on the conversation, which took off nationally and internationally. I still see new comments being added six months later. It completely surprised me. I didn’t expect people who used to bully me in school to now stand up and tell me that they are sorry for their actions and to make pledges to me on social media and email that they will not allow their children to do the same. The impact on my home community alone was impressive and sparked significant change.
Another proud moment: In 2004 I was a mentor for a local LGBT youth group. One particular youth was struggling with coming out. Years later he contacted me and we became friends, but it wasn’t until after I won the Mr. Gay Canada People’s Choice award that he thanked me personally for helping him through his hard times during high school. Subsequently, this summer, he came out to his grandma, which I remember back in 2004 was his biggest fear – feat that he would be abandoned. Today, he’s a bright, vibrant member of the LGBT community. Being a role-model for youth is important to me and I’m glad I can help people through their challenging times.
Q: What are you working on now/next? What’s coming up for Brian Webb?
Tyrell Witherspoon is more than a triple threat with his talent in Music, Dance, and Acting. He is also genuine, charismatic, and driven. It is easy to get caught up with someone who says and acts like they are the real deal, especially in the entertainment business, but for every one who is trying entirely too hard there are a few talents that are just the right amount of potential and motivation. Tyrell is definitely one of the few that is going about it the right way.
He has had the bug for entertainment since the very beginning and has explored playing instruments like the violin and piano, plus he has taken vocal lessons. This is someone who is putting in the time and paying his dues on the road to success. I was so thrilled to hear his music and delighted to actually get a chance to speak to him about his career. I am very proud to share this with you:
Q: You have always known you were destined for the stage and you started out with vocal lessons. Did you always know you would find success in music?
A: Honestly, I didn’t think “music” solely was something I would ever pursue. After talking with a few people in the industry and getting an itch for it, I started writing my own music again- something I hadn’t really done since I was a teenager. Playing around with music software and piano, I started to really discover my sound and then it just kind of went from there. Now, I can’t imagine trying to pursue anything else.
Q: Once you started with gymnastics and dancing you really got into them. Then you started to incorporate music back into things, did you do it because you wanted to have great beats to dance to?
A: Definitely! As a dancer, I always want to make sure my songs are something I can give my friends that are dance teachers and choreographers. I am a dance teacher myself and I play a lot of music in class. So, if my song is perfect for classes, then I know it’s going to be heard. If my friends can choreograph to it, even better!
Q: You had a role in the CW’s show, “Hellcats.” What was that experience like? Did you gain any insight from the other actors?
A: ”Hellcats” was an unbelievable experience and I am so blessed to have been a part of it. I got to work with some incredible people like Ashley Tisdale and Sharon Leal and Aly Michalka and Robbie Jones and Heather Hemmens just to name a few. I totally gained a lot of insight especially from Heather. Her brother is also an independent artist and we shared the struggles of the music industry together. Ashley and I talked a bit about music videos as well being that Scott is a music video (now film) director. It’s a tough industry but they definitely made me feel encouraged even though I’m a little fish in a big pond. Literally.
Q: Who are some of your idols in the dance world?
A: Oh gosh there are so many. I am a big fan of Travis Wall. I love his choreography, his work ethic and just who he is as a person. He’s so fearless but not afraid to be vulnerable. I love that. I adore Kenny Wormald. He’s so smooth and just the nicest guy. There are some fierce girls I worked with on “Hellcats” that I can’t get enough of. A dancer that inspires me a lot though is Bobby Newberry. He’s so fierce!!!
Q: What do you think of shows like “So You Think You Can Dance” “American Idol” “The Voice” and “X Factor”? Are they helpful to artists?
A: Having participated in both Season 1 and Season 3 of the Canadian version of “SYTYCD,” I can see both sides of the coin. Here in Canada, it doesn’t have the same effect on your career as it does in the US. However, contestants from the Canadian version who have gone down to the states are killing it in the industry right now like Taylor James, Kim Gingras, Vincent Noiseaux and a few others. They didn’t win, but they work their butt off. At the end of the day, these shows will give you immediate mad exposure. But, if you don’t got the skills to back it up and you aren’t memorable- then you’ve got nothing.
Q: Who are some of you idols in the music industry?
A: Right now, I’m really sending praise out to other male artists who have been brave enough to come out of the closet despite all the adversity surrounding it in the music industry. Frank Ocean’s most recent courage has been so inspiring. I also look up to Adam Lambert, Jake Shears (Scissor Sisters) and Ricky Martin. They are finally true to who they are and it’s amazing! If people don’t like it, fine. But you are going to make more fans by being truthful and letting them know who you really are.
Q: Can you share your dream list of artists you would like to work with? Singers, Producers, dancers, choreographers, etc?
A: Singers: Adam Levine, Jessie Malakouti (Jessie and the Toy Boys), JoJo, Ne-Yo, Taio Cruz
Producers: Dr. Luke, Max Martin, Stargate, Pharrell
Dancers: I would love for the contemporary group “Shaping Sound” to be in a video for me one day.
Choreographers: Definitely Travis Wall, Tabitha and Napoleon, Jae Blaze
Q: You are an openly gay artist and I know we share a passion for the NOH8 Campaign. What does that mean to you?
A: The NOH8 campaign is SO IMPORTANT. I know there can be a lot of hatred out there for this campaign but I think it stands for something truly amazing. It goes beyond the photos and the tattoo and the duct tape. For the straight community that supports NOH8, it’s amazing to see the allies and how others can be an example for the human race. I think it’s important as gay people as well to stand up for NOH8 because as we know in our community, there can be some serious hate as well. Overall I think you get what you give and I believe in being a positive person to everyone and letting people truly be who they are regardless of who they love or what they’re in to.
A: I definitely experienced bullying growing up in school and I wasn’t even out then. I didn’t come out until high school. I think when it comes to bullying there are so many different cases from light to severe and I think kids have gotten a lot nastier now. Plus, there is online bullying now which wasn’t a thing when I was growing up. Just know that there are tons of people in this world who love and support you that don’t even know. The “It Gets Better” campaign really showed that. Its hard sometimes and you just want to yell and scream but at the end of the day, be who you are and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. If you stay confident and strong and don’t let them bring you down, they’ll totally go away. Its when they see they make you weaker that they going. Don’t give them the power. Easier said then done of course but there is a lot of support out there.
Q: Your latest song, “One Step Closer” has an addictive beat and really gets you moving but the lyrics seem to be about a relationship that isn’t so perfect. What does it mean to you?
A: I always try and make my songs relatable to people and tell a story. We’ve all been in a relationship where you have totally effed up but you can’t imagine your life without this person. No matter how much they are telling you to disappear, you can’t let go of what you have. This song is about asking for forgiveness and asking to take “One Step Closer” each day to make it better and feel the way it did when it was good.
Q: I have read many descriptions of you as a “Dance and Pop Artist” but your ballad “In Love” is pretty powerful, if I may say so. Which do you prefer?
A: When I am performing live which is mostly in clubs or gay events, I like to keep the music up-tempo. Also as a dancer, I love a good beat and just dancing my face off. I do love writing slower tracks too though which show more of my heart and soul. I few of those up my sleeve for my next album so stay tuned…
Q: If you weren’t an entertainer, what other field (s) could you see yourself working in?
A: Wow. Well I love working with people so anywhere in customer service or sales probably. I’m a self-proclaimed “promo-sexual” and could sell ice to an eskimo, so probably that.
Q: When you aren’t making music, what are some of your hobbies?
A: I love love love to be outside. Rollerblading, hiking, the beach- anything outside. I’m also a TV addict and this season of Big Brother has got me HOOKED!
Q: What’s up next for Tyrell Witherspoon?
A: Right now, I am writing tons of music to pick a good solid set for my sophomore EP. I’m also still working in musical theatre and film so I audition all the time looking for new roles and opportunities. I just love this industry and am always open to new and exciting opportunities that come my way. You never know where they may lead you.
I would like to thank Tyrell for his time and for sharing his energy with me. I hope to be hearing lots from him and to be able to share even more about him with all of you. Please run over and check out his MUSIC. I guarantee you will be glad you did!
Mark Munroe is a singer-songwriter from Canada who is also an accomplished model as well as an actor. He was born and raised in the little town of Schomberg, Ontario, where he starred in musicals starting at age 5. As a model, he has graced the pages of Cosmopolitan Magazine and has starred in countless ad campaigns. On the music front, Mark fronted the internationally known band IM Munroe. Now, Mark is embarking on a solo career and ready to take the music industry by storm.
There is much more to Mark than the acting, modeling, and music. He is has also overcome personal challenges that could have prevented him from ever attempting all that he has. In his teens, Mark had gained weight but once he put his mind to it, he was able to shed 100 pounds. He also chose to come out publicly on his blog, which I am sure inspired countless people and helped others to feel less alone in their own struggles.
I have been wanting to interview Mark for a while now and I am very happy to bring this to you:
Q: Music has always been a part of your life. Did you always know you wanted to perform? Do you play any instruments?
A: Music has always been a huge part of my life, since I was a little boy who learned to play the piano, and sing in the church kids choir, and then when I was 12 recorded my first EP.
Even when I was a child I was already making plans to be an entertainer.
Q: You lost 100 pounds, how long ago was that? Do you have any advice for people who are going through similar struggles?
A: In my teenage years I gained a lot of weight, and by the time I was 19 I was so ready to shed the weight and start fresh. From the time I was 19 – 22 I spent all my extra energy in loosing the 85 pounds i needed to get to the weight that I wanted to be, well I smashed that and lost 100 pounds in the approximately 2 1/2 years.
The thing with weight is that for feeling good and being healthy it’s good to be a certain weight based on your size, gender etc, but at the end of the day, the greatest lesson that I learned from all of it, is that loving yourself in the good and bad is what really matters, for me being happy, it wasn’t ever about a number on a scale but a feeling inside.
As for the working out itself, you have to do your own homework and find what food, exercise, and activities work for you, cause if you don’t enjoy what your doing, you won’t stick with it, and you’ll gain the weight back.
My greatest advise for some loosing weight is FIND WHAT WORKS FOR YOU, and make sure that you can sustain it!
I have always said that I am very lucky to know so many amazing people through social media. During my time on Twitter, I have gotten to know people from all backgrounds and from all over the world. Even if it is just a tweet every once in a while or a Facebook comment here and there, I like getting to know something about each person. Brian Webb is someone I have enjoyed tweeting with. He has his own blog that I enjoy reading. You can take a look for yourself here.
Recently, Brian tweeted me with some very exciting news. He has been nominated for Mr. Gay Canada 2012. I can honestly tell you that I am very proud of him for this. He has always been kind to me and I enjoy sharing with him. This contest is such an honor and I feel he is so deserving of the opportunity. Brian has been involved in his community, participating in 2011 Outgames, 2010 & 2011 Vancouver Pride, 2011 Pride Toronto, 2011 Okanagan Pride, 2011 Salt Sprint Island Pride, NOGLO, and YouthGlo.
Brian has been a positive part of a community that is sometimes judged unfairly. He conducts himself in a way that shows a professional image where some people may find it easier to just go with the flow and give in to whatever is popular at the moment. I admire him for this and hope you will consider voting for him in the Mr. Gay Canada 2012 contest here. He is third from the top.
You can also read about why this contest is important to him here. For me, it is so refreshing to see people who are aware that we need to act responsibly and provide a proper image for others, especially today’s youth. I see many people in the spotlight who only care about advancement but forget about the message they are sending.
I know Brian will use his opportunity to provide others with as much as he can. He will be an excellent addition to Mr. Gay Canada because he has a vision of what needs to be done and how to do it. As he has stated to me, this is not a contest about looks but more about personality and values.
To get a better idea of what the contest is about, you can go to this press release, which was just put out.