Kiwi crowned Mr Gay World
Monday 9 Apr 2012 2:06 p.m.
He stands at more than 6ft, and is an impressive sight with his ripped six-pack and beaming smile, according to Gaynz.com.
It’s a winning combination for Kiwi Andreas Derleth, 32, who has just taken out the title of Mr Gay World 2012.
Mr Derleth was crowned Mr Gay NZ 2012 in February, and travelled to South Africa this month to compete for the title of Mr Gay World.
Mr Derleth took out the world title ahead of contestants from 21 other countries, including Argentina, Bulgaria, Ethiopia, Ireland, Namibia, Norway and the USA.
Contestants were judged on appearance and physical fitness, and also had to sit an essay test on the history of the gay rights movement.
Mr Derleth grew up in Germany, but made New Zealand his home around four years ago after falling in love with the country during a working holiday.
“I came to New Zealand four years ago on a working holiday permit,” Mr Derleth told Gaynz.com. “I soon fell in love with New Zealand’s welcoming and friendly people, its lovely big and small towns, beautiful beaches, mountains for snowboarding and breath-taking natural attractions.”
Mr Derleth now works at Warehouse Stationery, and lives in Auckland with his partner Tom.
He told Gaynz.com that it was an honour to be able to represent his adopted homeland.
“I feel proud to be able to represent the GLBT community in New Zealand,” says Mr Derleth.
There is a more serious side to the event, however. Mr Gay NZ producer Aaron Comis says on Gaynz.com it is also about fighting discrimination and creating a positive image of gay people around the world.
Mr Comis says that people like Andreas Derleth are a “shining example” of what it means to be a gay man.
“It is people like Andy that we need leading the way as examples, redefining the stereotype away from the negative connotations that have developed over the years and paving the future for our generations ahead,” says Mr Comis.
LGBT rights vary widely around the world, with some countries still carrying harsh penalties for homosexuality, and some going so far as to impose the death penalty.
Contestants for the Mr Gay World contest from Zimbabwe and China withdrew from the race due to anti-gay pressure, with Mr Gay Zimbabwe saying that the negative publicity was making life difficult for his mother.
Mr Gay Namibia Wendelinus Hamutenya says that places such as Africa need to change, with South Africa the only nation on the continent that currently recognises gay rights.
Mr Hamutenya herded cows as a young boy in remote northern Namibia, and came out as gay to his family when he was 16.
He is now lobbying the Namibian government to repeal the country’s anti-sodomy laws and says villagers are slowly coming to respect him for the work he does.