Man of the Year winner challenges the perceptions of masculinity
On Monday, Feb. 12 UMD’s Greek life hosted their annual Man of the Year contest in Kirby Ballroom.
Kylee Pass, president of the Greek Life Council, helped organize and set up this years contest.
“Man of the year is an annual event put on by Greek Life, it’s basically a male beauty pageant,” Pass said.
A few weeks before the event Greek life reached out to student organizations and asked them to participate. Contestants do not have to be part of Greek life to join the pageant. Organizations are encouraged to nominate one male to represent them.
This year there were 10 contestants from organizations such as Alpha Delta, UMD Admissions Tour Guides and Queer and Allied Student Union.
This year’s winner of Man of the Year was Senior Sean Carpenter. Carpenter nominated himself and represented the Queer and Allied Student Union.
Carpenter, who currently works at North Shore Bank as well as Global Village down in canal, loves reading, going to shows, and exploring Duluth. Another hobby of his is performing in drag shows.
Carpenter was excited to show off his authentic self by performing for an audience that might otherwise not know this side of him.
“When I perform at the bar, people go there and know what to expect,” Carpenter said.
Although preparation which included makeup, packing and outfit planning took close to three hours, Carpenter said it all went by so fast.
“Since I’m a stage performer I already have a lot of things prepared, so a lot of it was just day of stuff as well as mental preparation” Carpenter said.
If he could change one thing about the pageant, Carpenter would choose to make the questions more in depth, eliciting the contestants to show more of their personality.
“I wish they would have gotten to know the contestants more, or have more thoughtful questions, not such generic ones” Carpenter said.
For the most part during the contest, Carpenter went by his first name rather than his stage name to keep things from getting too complicated. He hoped that dressing in drag would be thought provoking as well as a conversation starter.
“I did it intentionally,” Carpenter said. “I am always thinking about concepts of masculinity and manhood. We have this kind of toxic perception of masculinity, like you have to be strong and not have emotion. There seem to be these rules that you have to look and behave a certain way, but I don’t think that’s true.”
After winning Man of the Year, Carpenter said he was very proud of himself and that he felt a lot of gratitude for everyone who helped and supported him, as well as gratitude for the judges.
“If it was a different judge panel, I might have been on the bottom of that list,” Carpenter said. “I appreciate that the judges saw the goodness in me.”
Carpenter is very proud he could represent the Queer and Allied Student Union through this contest and he hopes that after winning Man of the Year as his true self, others will feel empowered to do the same.
“Masculinity and manhood is how you define it. You shouldn’t listen to the toxic or negative perceptions you were taught growing up. You can be your authentic self while still staying true to your manhood or identity,” Carpenter said.