A 37-year-old martial arts coach and security guard from Ireland was crowned as Mr. Gay World at the debut of the contest in Whistler last week, coming after a series of Mr. Gay competitions held in 19 other nations.
Although there were younger and more hirsute delegates - Max Krzyzanowski is balding with a shaved head - judges liked his positive self-image and eloquence when speaking for gay rights. While there were fun elements to the pageant, like a swimsuit contest, and a contests for best photo and best costume, the goal of the organization is to identify and develop leaders for the gay community who speak out for human rights on the global stage.
According to the mission statement of Mr. Gay World, the winner is "a positive role model and will work on humanizing being gay in the media, both queer and mainstream."
It's a responsibility that Krzyzanowski takes seriously, and he will travel the world sharing with others.
"Mr. Gay World is an extraordinary opportunity to bring together the entire gay community across the world. It is easy to forget that being gay is still punishable by death in many countries. This is a unique opportunity for me to create awareness of gay issues on a worldwide scale," he said.
"I am deeply honoured to win for Ireland and aware of the commitment and responsibilities that follow. My first message is to young people - it is time to stop being afraid. We are our own judges. If you fear the judgment of others you will never reach your true potential."
Krzyzanowski was the oldest contestant in this year's competition, a sold-out event at the Whistler Conference Centre held during WinterPride week.
Next year Mr. Gay World will be held in Oslo, Norway.
There were a total of 19 entries in the competition, selected from 1,500 entries at Mr. Gay competitions around the world.
Mr. Gay Paraguay was the first runner-up for the competition, followed by delegates from Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Also making the top-10 were Argentina, Austria, Colombia and South Africa.
Mr. Gay Phillipines won Best Costume Award and Mr. Popular Award.
Mr. Gay Argentina won the Mr. Photogenic Award, Mr. Gay Paraguay won Mr. Swimwear, Mr. Gay Australia received Mr. Leadership Award, and Mr. Gay Colombia received the most votes from the other contestants for Mr. Congeniality.
Whistler was also the host of the Mr. Gay Canada competition last fall, and was judged by organizers to be a very gay-friendly venue for events.
For more information on the pageant and a look at contenders visit www.mrgayworld.org.
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