Ev­ery vote counts for Mr Gay World

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - FRONT PAGE - RICKY DEVINE WHITE

The fol­low­ing message ar­rived in a hand­book de­scrib­ing the re­quire­ments for the Mr Gay World 2018 com­pe­ti­tion.

‘‘Mr Gay World is not a beauty con­test as many con­fuse it to be, but rather an event to unite coun­tries from around the world with men who availed them to be a role model, leader and sym­bol of change.

‘‘You be­ing able to at­tend Mr Gay World means that you have the free­dom or a cer­tain amount of free­dom to live your sex­u­al­ity out and be your­self, how­ever there are still mil­lions of peo­ple liv­ing in fear for be­ing gay and that is your chal­lenge and goal as a Mr Gay World to help the world un­der­stand the LGBTQI+ lifestyle and who we are.’’

With those com­ments, from Mr Gay World chair­per­son Igor Scheurko­gel, it fi­nally hits home that I have only five more weeks un­til I com­pete for the ti­tle of Mr Gay World, from May 21.

I am ner­vous, I am ex­cited, but most of all I feel ex­tremely hum­bled to be cho­sen as a na­tional del­e­gate to rep­re­sent New Zealand.

The of­fi­cial hand­book out­lines all of the re­quire­ments for the com­pe­ti­tion in­clud­ing a daily timetable, full of charity events, panel/media in­ter­views, fundrais­ing auc­tions, school vis­its to do­nate ed­u­ca­tional books, sports chal­lenges and photo shoots.

More im­por­tantly it out­lines how the scor­ing for the com­pe­ti­tion works, and where you are best to start prac­tis­ing; the pho­to­genic, writ­ten test, social re­spon­si­bil­ity cam­paign, social media task, on­line vote, video, swimwear for­mal wear, and na­tional costume cat­e­gories are all worth 5 per cent, with the sports chal­lenge worth 10 per cent and a per­sonal in­ter­view mak­ing up 15 per cent of the marks.

The re­main­ing 10 per cent is re­worked if you make the top 10. The first chal­lenges are al­ready under way - the on­line vote and video in­tro­duc­tion.

Ev­ery­one is able to par­tic­i­pate and sup­port by watch­ing the video and vot­ing for me/New Zealand. Tra­di­tion­ally based on the size of our pop­u­la­tion com­pared to other Euro­pean or Asian coun­tries, our vot­ing has been of a smaller over­all quan­tity but al­ready we are show­ing that we can com­pete re­gard­less. I need ev­ery­one to vote and vote again. A huge thank you to ev­ery­one who has voted so far.

The last things to pre­pare for the com­pe­ti­tion in­clude find­ing spon­sors for the for­mal wear sec­tion and cre­at­ing a na­tional costume that will be pre­sented dur­ing a pa­rade in South Africa and at the grand fi­nale and an­nounce­ment of Mr Gay World 2018.

This week I did have the priv­i­lege of hav­ing a pri­vate din­ner with Ly­dia Schi­avello, orig­i­nal mem­ber of the Real Housewives of Mel­bourne. To some that may seem a ran­dom thing to do but align­ing your­self to have an au­di­ence with strong-minded, pos­i­tively en­er­gised peo­ple can do a lot for your own per­sonal jour­ney.

To come this week­end is the Dunedin PrEP Fo­rum on Fri­day, April 13, fol­lowed by the Dunedin Pride Party on Satur­day, April 14, both of which are spon­sored by Ending HIV NZ, for which I aman am­bas­sador. I can’t wait to be a part of both and meet the LGBTQI + com­mu­nity in Dunedin.

I be­lieve shar­ing the PrEP Fo­rum with more re­gions will help to ed­u­cate about safer sex op­tions. Our aim: to end all new trans­mis­sions of HIV by 2025.

Vot­ing for Mr Gay World 2018 can be made at mr­gay­world.com/ del­e­gates/vot­ing-page-2018/. Once reg­is­tered, you can vote once a day.

PHOTO: SUP­PLIED

Mr Gay NZ Ricky Devine White cook­ing with Ly­dia Schi­avello, one of the orig­i­nal Real Housewives of Mel­bourne.

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