The winner of Mr Gay World, New Zealand's contestant Andy Derleth has spoken about competition and what he intends to do with this honor.
Derleth (33), who is German but has lived in New Zealand since 2008, told Auckland Now: ‘The role of Mr Gay World is to stand up for gay and human rights, which I'm very into. I want to use this to raise public awareness about gay rights and promote acceptance. There are still countries which have the death penalty if you're gay.’
Derleth won $25,000 (€19,200) in travel vouchers so that he can spread his message of gay rights around the world. But he said that even at home work needs to be done so that young gay people feel comfortable coming out.
‘You will get some people who say things about gay people around young people and that behavior possibly makes it hard for people to come out,’ Derleth said. ‘There are many cases where young people are scared to come out, so I want to encourage them to get in touch with Rainbow Youth or organizations like that.’
Derleth won three of the categories, swimwear, sports challenge and best interview. He had to write an essay on LGBT history and was judged on personal grooming and behavior during the competition which included a session volunteering for a charity.
‘That was a truly amazing experience,‘ said Derleth. ‘We saw these kids who were orphaned from AIDS and we gave them books and read to them. It was a truly amazing experience.’
Derleth’s day job is operations project manager at Warehouse Stationery and he was encouraged by his partner Tom Linn to enter the New Zealand leg of the competition in February.
Linn, who became Derleth’s official partner at a civil union ceremony on 11 November 2011, said he was ‘ecstatic’ when he learned his partner had won Mr Gay World 2012. ‘He is a non-pretentious, friendly and generous person with great ideas and wisdom, who lives within his means and discipline and true to his words,’ said Linn.