Fighting for the same cause
After seven days of assessments, challenges and interviews the winner of Mr Gay World 2018 was announced at Villa Castollini in Knysna, South Africa.
First place was Jordan Bruno, Mr Gay Pride Australia, runner up, yours truly, Ricky Devine White, Mr Gay New Zealand and third was Samarpan Maiti of Mr Gay India.
Included with placing first runner up, I also took out three top placings and was awarded medals for sports, swimwear and written test.
It feels strange to think it’s over, however it’s merely the competition that is over, the campaigns and community work have only just begun.
Each day while with the other delegates served as valuable time to discuss other countries’ LGBTQI+ issues and struggles. A lot of those were similar to ours but it was empowering to know there are others fighting for the same cause: acceptance, inclusion and equality.
You would think that being a competition it would involve a few catfights or arguments but this felt more like family that was founded on unconditional love.
Lack of sleep and food aside, mornings always began with giving back to the community either through animal welfare visits, orphanage visits, cleaning up the Pledge Nature Reserve in Knysna, or picking up rubbish along the Knysna waterways.
We were given plenty of opportunity to explore this region of South Africa; Birds of Eden, game parks, Knysna Heads and township tours all the while being watched and assessed during conversations, interactions and honest intentions.
My favourite delegate had to be Mr Gay Finland, Rami Kiiskinen. Rami identifies with being gay and chooses style as his beautiful way of personal expression.
Perhaps there is a part of me that wishes I was able to walk in heels as well as he does, or have the make-up artistry of a top model. He was the first contestant in the history of Mr Gay World to walk the runway in heels. Something I am looking forward to seeing more of as diversity and creativity explode.
The hardest challenge was the written tests. Although I was given the top mark and award for written test intelligence, on a good day, I am not the greatest at quick fire questions but during any down time we were given (which was literally none) you would find me studying LGBTQI + history.
The tests also involved local knowledge about South Africa with much of the information for the answers being gained through conversations you had with members of the community while on tours. Thankfully people and culture interests me, so that learning was easy.
My favourite challenge was most likely the national costume. This was our chance to showcase the beautiful parts of our countries to the judges by way of an inspired costume. I chose to represent Tangaroa.
In Ma¯ori myth, Tangaroa is the god of the sea. My introduction involved the story of how Tangaroa and his brothers forced their mother and father apart and how Tangaroa created an aquatic empire. It was important for me to highlight to the judges that New Zealand is deeply rooted in cultural traditions and these were what set New Zealand apart from many other countries. During this challenge it was fun to play storyteller and share the richness of traditional New Zealand.
It was a very emotional farewell at the final breakfast together. Perhaps exhaustion had finally kicked in or perhaps the competition had highlighted how much work actually still needs to be done in our communities or perhaps the lifelong bonds that were created with people from completely different cultures on the other side of the world was too great to say goodbye without tears falling.
Whatever it was, I will miss every delegate and will never forget a truly blessed experience from being involved in the competition.
My husband and I are now continuing a tour through South Africa to explore the many other exciting things the country has to offer. When I get home the first thing I plan to do is take a breath, then dive back into work with more focus and intensity.
Lastly, thank you to everyone who voted, messaged, clicked on like, and watched with anticipation. I am very proud to say that I am Mr Gay New Zealand 2018 and plan to do many great things during my reign. Watch this space.
It was announced that Mr Gay World 2019 will be held in Hong Kong. For those interested in competing please feel free to send me a personal message via Instagram or Facebook. Mr Gay World 2018 – AUSTRALIA - Jordan Bruno First runner-up: NEWZEALAND – Ricky Devine White Second runner-up: INDIA – Samarpan Maiti Third runner-up: TAIWAN – Po-Hung Chen Fourth runner-up: PORTUGAL – Joao De Oliveira
Ricky Devine White, left, came first runner up in Mr Gay World 2018, after Mr Gay Pride Australia Jordan Bruno, centre. Third was Samarpan Maiti of Mr Gay India.