It’s been a whirlwind 5 days here in Antwerp, Belgium, where yours truly was honored and delighted to be a judge of the 2013 Mr Gay World Competition. I was amazed with the gentlemen who represented 25 different nations.
I wouldn’t be surprised if upon hearing about this contest thoughts of ditzy, young models strutting the runway in tiny bathing suits crosses your mind: While they DO indeed spend time in bathing suits, these men are anything but ditzy. What I was presented with before arriving to the first event was a book of biographies that featured architects, gay rights activists, physicians, managers, and engineers.
Meeting them, I quickly learned that they were also men of passion. Young men with big ideas who want to make this a better world for gay youth in their home countries, and around the world.
The delegates have to take part in a variety of competitions, including sports/fitness, culture, panel interviews, and photo shoots, but they are also judged on how well they work together, how they interact with their fellow delegates, and how they conduct themselves with the press, special guests, and fans.
The finale, at the beautiful Elckerluc Theatre in central Antwerp, was a show filled with music, dance, fashion, and all of the awards. It was a thrilling, unforgettable evening. The eventual winner, Christopher Olwage of New Zealand, took home three other prizes, including the Culture Award, Swimwear, and National Costume — which saw him come out in a Maori-inspired masterpiece while on full ballet pointe!
Olwage is taking his title as Mr. Gay World seriously, calling it another milestone ”as a self-aware member of the LGBT community.” He hopes to use his new platform to “achieve greater awareness of the issues that surround our community, aid the support of emerging queer youth in schools,” and to work closer with the New Zealand AIDS Foundation.
Congratulations to all the participants and especially to Chris.