Mr. Gay San Diego :: A Tradition Reborn

by Korie Houston

Rage Monthly

Monday November 6, 2017

Brace yourselves: The fight for who will be crowned Mr. Gay San Diego is returning to town. After roughly a decade passing by, organizers Big Mike, Robert Rodriguez and the Imperial Court de San Diego are reviving the Mr. Gay San Diego competition.

Originally started in 1975 by City Commissioner Nicole Murray Ramirez, this year's event will raise money for the 29th Annual Scott Carlson Thanksgiving Dinner to be held Thursday, November 23 at the San Diego LGBT Center. An annual event that was founded by Scott Carlson in 1989, because he felt that people living with HIV and AIDS didn't have many spaces to go for the holiday and thus the annual Thanksgiving tradition was born.

Mr. Gay San Diego is all about promoting community and The Rage Monthly spoke to both Robert Rodriguez and "Big Mike" Phillips who are co-producing the event, their first in 17 years of knowing one another. Mike, when asked what he hopes to achieve responded by saying, "This event is projected to be very successful and I hope that a new generation finds positivity in what we're trying to do here." Robert and Mike's biggest hope? "For this to become an annual event, because in turbulent times, we need to create a sense of unity within the LGBTQ+ community."

Both Mike and Robert have been integral members of the Imperial Court system here in San Diego, Robert being a former Emperor of the Court and Mike being a former board member. Both of these men are well known within the LGBTQ+ community as well, Robert for bartending at both The Eagle and The Rail and as one of the producers of DIVAS, the Leather Fetish Ball, and the San Diego Leather Bear contest. Known for his countless contributions to the community, Mike's selfless activism and his fundraising efforts for people in need. Combined, the two are ready to put on this spectacular show to be held at The Rail coming this November.

After being remodeled earlier this year, The Rail is a wonderful location for Mr. Gay San Diego 2017, because the venue has all the right equipment to handle this fundraiser. Current owner Gayle Santillan shared her thoughts about the use of the space to hold the contest. "We're the original gay bar in San Diego, going all the way back to 1934. I'm always super happy to host events here." When asked what she hopes to get out of this event being held there she remarked, "I hope to continue to be the nightclub that's open to anything." With at least ten community sponsors including Flicks and Rich's, it will be quite the event and for certain, you won't want to miss it.

Hosted by Paris Sukomi Max, Mr. Gay San Diego's winner will receive $300 from Rich's, a caricature by Joe Phillips and other gifts valuing up to $500, the runner-up will receive $100, along with a medallion and sash. There will also be at least 22 other opportunities for the audience to win gift cards during the raffles, held every 15 minutes. A $10 donation is recommended at the door and Jell-O Shots will be on hand for sale, along with other surprise drink specials.

With the money raised from this event and through the assistance of the Rob Benzon Foundation, the popular, Annual Scott Carlson Thanksgiving Dinner will continue to thrive and serve those in need.

Come out and show your support for the contestants. It's going to be a fun, sexy event and most importantly, supportive of the greater LGBTQ+ community, while raising money for a good cause.

Mr. Gay San Diego will take place on Sunday, November 5 at The Rail, 3796 5th Avenue. Doors open at 5 p.m. with the contest starting at 6.

For tickets and more information, go to

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