A History We can be Proud of
History of the Mr. Gay World™ Organisation
Eric Butter and Dean Nelson embarked on a mission to create a global competition that would inspire and empower gay men to come together as part of an international collective to showcase their knowledge, skills, and talent. This initiative would show the world that being gay encompasses a broader spectrum than what is heteronormatively perceived and understood. The mission was then to demonstrate that both inward beauty and physical appearance are equally important as both harness leadership and confidence. It was the hope then to bring these men together to share their experiences to with each other, and the public.
Both Eric Butter and the then Vice Chair of Mr. Gay Europe, Tore Aasheim, were invited to Vancouver to discuss how we could bring this global vision to the international producers, to ensure that the Mr. Gay World™ board had a united and global view.
Mr. Gay Europe initiated the Dublin Summit bringing Eric Butter (Australia), Dean Nelson (Canada), Tore Aasheim (Norway), Brian Merriman (Ireland) and Noemi Alberto (Philippines) together to discuss the structure, vision and mission of Mr Gay World™ and to form the first international board of directors in Dublin, Ireland. The new board officially awarded the first host city to Whistler, Canada during their annual Winter PRIDE celebrations.
The first Mr. Gay World™ Competition took place during the annual Winter PRIDE celebrations in the award-winning mountain resort of Whistler, Canada welcoming 24 delegates. Only twenty of these delegates competed which resulted in Ireland’s Max Krzyzanowski winning the title. Mark Tewksbury (Canadian Olympian) and Charlie David (US/Canadian Actor/Producer) emceed the Grand Finale at the Westin Whistler Resort Ballroom to a soldout audience. Special guest performances by Canadian Pop recording artists Destineak and Vancouver’s drag diva Ms. Willie Taylor.
The second Mr. Gay World™ Competition took place in Oslo, Norway welcoming 23 delegates including Chinese National Xiaodai (Andrew) Muyi. The significance of having Andrew compete demonstrated to the people of China that they are not alone in their quest to be accepted. Andrew, who is Muslim, came from a dominant Muslim region of Xinjiang and explained in an interview with the Chinese Global Times, “Organizing gay events in Xinjiang is much harder than in Beijing because it is against religion.”
Hanne Krogh, the winner of the Eurovision song contest 1985, presented the Eric Butter Philanthropy award to HRH Mette-Marit, Crown Princess of Norway for her dedication to HIV/AIDS-related work as well as youth empowerment. Emcee Will Fennell (Australia TV personality) named Charl van der Berg (South Africa) the title of Mr. Gay World™ 2010.
The third Mr Gay World™ Competition took place in Manila, Philippines. This year the MGW team brought the competition to the people of Manila where all the delegates volunteered their time to give back to a Manila slum restoration project – Gawad Kalinga to the Unilab GK Village Arkong Bato in Brgy Kapitolyo, Pasing City, Philippines. Each of the delegates brought books and toys to be donated to the village. The Mr. Gay World™ team then went to work to renovate a new learning center for the children. This was an important task as it gave the care workers as well as community officials an opportunity to see another aspect of gay men helping to overcome stereotypes of what they may think about how gay men look and act.
Filipino TV celebrity Boy Abunda, at Club Mwah in Mandaluyong City, was presented with the Eric Butter Philanthropy Award for his work in promoting a strong and positive role model for the Philippines’ LGBT community. Celebrity judge and 1969 Miss Universe, Gloria Diaz, was among the judges that determined South Africa’s Francois Nel would bring home the Mr. Gay World™ title to African soil for the second consecutive year.
Hosted by Mr Gay South Africa, Mr Gay World™ announces new Board of Directors at the Johannesburg Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa welcoming two new board members including Coenie Kukkuk (South Africa) Director for Africa and the Middle East, and Alfredo Ferreyra (Argentina), Director for South America / Caribbean – Latin America. Returning members are Eric Butter (Australia) – President, Dean Nelson (Canada) – Vice President Operations + Director for North America and Oceania, Noemi Alberto (Philippines) – Vice President Outreach + Director for Asia, Tore Aasheim (Norway) – Director for Europe.
The fourth Mr Gay World™ Competition took place in Johannesburg, South Africa welcoming 24 registered participants to Mandela’s Rainbow Nation. This was the first time that a major international gay event had been staged on African soil and caused much debate and public discussion within Africa and around the world – fulfilling one of the primary goals of the organisation. For the first time, Mr Gay World™ has had a huge highway billboard sign on one of the busiest motorways in Africa promoting the annual competition and raising the profile of LGBT+ Human Rights. It was also the first time the competition was able to host black Africans in the competition where these men literally put their lives on the line to raise awareness of LGBT+ human rights issues in their respective countries of Ethiopia, Namibia, and Zimbabwe.
The Zimbabwean had extraordinary pressures, from both his family and President Robert Mugabe, and had to withdraw from the competition to avoid “embarrassing the country.” The Ethiopian also faced similar challenges but stayed to compete which forced him to become a refugee and lose his family. If he were to return to Ethiopia, he would face impending death for being publicly gay. Emcees Cathy Specific and Soli Philander navigated a sold-out audience at the Lyric Theatre in Gold Reef City, South Africa, recounting the incredible journey these men have been on while in South Africa.
This included an outreach program to Nkosi’s Haven – a South African NGO offering holistic care and support for destitute HIV/AIDS infected mothers, their children, and resulting AIDS orphans (infected or not). Dean Nelson (Canada) presented Coenie Kukkuk with the Eric Butter Philanthropy Award for his tireless work in creating a safer more inclusive environment for Africa’s LGBTI community and raising the profile and disparity in LGBTI Human Rights. The judges determined it would be Mr. Gay New Zealand – Andreas (Andy) Derleth who would take home the title of Mr. Gay World™ to Oceania, with South Africa again scoring well with Lance Weyer of the Eastern Cape province placing second.
During the world Outgames 2013 in Antwerp, Belgium, the organisation geared up to host the fifth annual Mr Gay World™ Competition in Antwerp, Belgium July 31st – August 5th welcoming the largest delegation to date from around the world eager to be the next Mr. Gay World™. Again, a New Zealander won – Christopher Olwage, walking away with five category wins. The Eric Butter Philanthropy Award was awarded to the well–known NoH8–campaign for their very visual and social media viral campaign of advocating against hate. It would be the first time a delegate from the Caribbean wins the Sports challenge, with Aruba making the grade. In another first, a black African, Ricardo Amunjera would make the Top 5 placing as 3rd runner–up. Ricardo returned in 2015 to be a judge at Mr. Gay World 2015.
The next stop in Mr. Gay World™’s journey around the world took place in Rome, Italy with the producers this year being the Gay Village in Rome. This is also the first time the winner would be crowned outdoors – on the large stage at the open arena of Gay Village. The Gay Village is unique – creating a space for LGBT+ individuals every Thursday to Saturday during the summer in Rome. A strong contingent from Asia would participate, with delegates from Cambodia and Indonesia joining Mr. Gay World for the first time with their counterparts from India, the Philippines, and Hong Kong. Italian politician and human rights activist, Imma Battaglia, took home the Eric Butter Philanthropy Award for her achievements in organising the first Rome Pride march as well as part of decadelong fights for LGBT+ rights in Italy.
India won three categories, but it would be the United Kingdom’s Stuart Hatton Jr. taking the title for the UK for the first time. Stuart would later launch his “So What”- campaign on social media, attracting worldwide attention. Award was awarded to the well–known NoH8–campaign for their very visual and social media viral campaign of advocating against hate. It would be the first time a delegate from the Caribbean wins the Sports challenge, with Aruba making the grade. In another first, a black African, Ricardo Amunjera would make the Top 5 placing as 3rd runner–up. Ricardo returned in 2015 to be a judge at Mr. Gay World 2015.
South Africa would become the only country to have hosted Mr Gay World™ twice, with the competition returning to the African continent, this time taking place in two cities, Cape Town and Knysna, with the Grand Finale taking place in Knysna on the 2nd of May. It would also be the first time that delegates would join a street parade, namely the annual Pink Loerie Mardi Gras & Arts Festival parade on the day of the final, with the Pink Loerie also the host and producer run by John–Louis O’Neil and Karin Sephton. Mr. Gay World also welcomed new directors Ivan Denis and Bram Bierkens (Belgium) for Europe and Juan Martin Boll (Argentina) and Nano Garcia for Latin America, and Dieter Sapper from Austria as CEO with Noemi Alberto (Philippines) returning for Asia.
Coenie Kukkuk (South Africa) would continue as Director for Africa and the Middle East as well as Managing Director for 2015. A host of countries would make their debut at Mr. Gay World in 2015, including Cuba, Dominican Republic, Zambia, Uruguay, and Malta participating for the first time. The Mr. Gay World™ 2015 contest consisted of 21 delegates, with a Top 10 hailing from the Philippines, Spain, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Iceland, Belgium, Finland, Hong Kong, and Germany. Germany was crowned the winner of Mr. Gay World™ 2015 in front of a cheering crowd in a sold-out venue.
The eighth edition of Mr Gay World™’ took place in Malta in April 2016. The 24 delegates stayed at the Westin Dragonara 5–star hotel and the Grand Finale was held outdoors in the Villa Rosa, a wonderful castle in the hills of St Julian. The Top 10 were South Africa, Spain, Austria, Philippines, St Maarten, Brazil, Venezuela, Belgium, Great Britain and Germany. The top five were Spain, Austria, Philippines, St Maarten and Brazil. Spain took the title of MGW 2016.
Mr Gay World™ 2017 was held in May 2017. Firstly the 21 delegates were hosted in Madrid, in conjunction with World Pride Madrid 2017 and then the whole Mr Gay World™ crew flew Iberia Airlines three hours southwest to the amazing Canary Islands where the Grand Finale was held in Maspalomas. This year, the Top 10 came from Ecuador, Australia, India, Chile, Austria, South Africa, Belgium, Spain and 16 MR GAY WORLDTM 2022 the Philippines. Mr Gay World™ Philippines was crowned the winner in front of thousands of spectators cheering as Mr Spain came in second place.
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Mr Gay World™ the event was held in the beautiful city of Knysna, South Africa in conjunction with the Pink Loerie Festival in May of 2018. The weeklong event culminated with the MGW President’s Ball and Fundraising auction on Friday 25th of May, followed by the grand finale on Saturday 26th of May 2018 at Villa Castollini. The Top Ten were Mexico, Costa Rica, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Portugal, Belgium, India, Taiwan and Germany. The crowd’s favourite and very charming, Mr Gay World™ Australia was named the winner. Mr Gay World™ New Zealand came second with Mr Gay World™ India, third.
Mr Gay World™ 2019 was the 11th Edition of the competition. It was a week-long event that took place in the beautiful city of Cape Town, South Africa. One of the many highlights of the competition in 2019 was a visit as part of the Cape Town Khayelitsha Township Tour, which is the only township tour that will make you connect with locals through, arts, music, food, and storytelling. Unforgettable memories are created to create sustainable tourism which included Stop at Spinach King and Sikis Koffee Kafe, and a walk to meet local entrepreneurs and visit the first Story Room Creatives. The delegates also were hosted for lunch by the MasterChef winner, Chef Abigail Mbalo– Mokoena and did a team-building experience hosted by Chef Jenny Morris as well as a sports challenge. The delegates were kept busy doing a series of rounds of interviews on TV and radio.
To a sold-out crowd, on the penultimate night of the competition, the fundraiser event was held, where delegates auctioned unique items, they brought from their home countries. South African television-host, Ewan Strydom hosted the grand finale that took place at Cape Town City Hall with performances by international boyband 5WEST and Tamara Day. The top ten were Australia, Japan, Ireland, India, Brazil, Belgium, Thailand, Hungary, Spain, and the Philippines. Thailand came fourth, Hungary 3rd, Spain second, and the Philippines took the title. The title of Mr. Gay World™ was passed on to Spain’s Fran Alvarado in early 2020 as the event was postponed due to COVID-19. Fran Alvarado was doing a remarkable job as Mr. Gay World™ and he will be crowning the next Mr. Gay World™ in 2021.
September 2020 & 2021
The Mister Gay World 2020 and 2021 were held virtually, in 2021. A virtual production followed and Elzabé Zietsman and Earl Gregory served as Emcees. The winners of both editions represented the Philippines, marking the first time in international beauty pageant history that a three-peat win was accomplished.