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South African wins Mr. Gay World 2011

Philippines’ bet receives two special awards

Winners All. From right, New Zealand’s Aaron Comis, fourth runner-up; Spain’s Israel Acevedo, second runner-up; South Africa's Francois Nel is Mr. Gay World 2011; USA's Michael Kevin Holtz, first runner-up; and Australia's Leigh Charles, third runner-up.

MANDALUYONG CITY, Philippines – From among the 23 equally gorgeous gay men representing their respective countries in the 3rd annual Mr. Gay World (MGW), held recently at Club Mwah in Mandaluyong City on Sunday, March 13, Francois Nel of South Africa was proclaimed the new ambassador for gay men in the world and succeeds his fellow South African and former title holder Charl Van Den Berg. Nel will continue to carry on the vision and mission of the organization that seeks to fight the discrimination and stigma faced by the gay community in many countries today. Mr. Gay World empowers and raises the visibility of optimistic gay men in a constructive dialogue with our fellow citizens.

USA’s delegate Michael Kevin Holtz and Spain’s Israel Acevedo were Nel’s first and second runners-up; while Australia’s Leigh Charles and New Zealand’s Aaron Comis were third and fourth runners-up. Philippines’ bet the 24-year old, an instructor and a review lecturer in a university in Baguio walked home with two special awards that evening – the People’s Choice award and Best in National Costume; and finished as one of the top 10 finalists.

Nel has a visual multimedia-creative writing degree and has other passions like working at a medical practice that dealt with HIV and TB under the direction of the renowned Dr. Paul Timp. He soon discovered that the medical field also interests him and he completed a course in HIV care and counseling. While completing his creative studies, it exposed him to many different art forms, and he also started a professional career in make-up artistry and hairstyling on the sideline, which allowed him to work as both an artist and a lecturer-educator.

Being the new Mr. Gay World 2011, he will be enjoying a US$25,000-worth of trips to visit five continents that he will be promoting goodwill to the world about the gay community. He will also be wearing a dog tag designed by the internationally-renowned South African jewelry designer Chris Winspear. His four runners-up take the rest of the ‘puzzle pieces’ of the bespoke dog tag.

Nel’s Winning Answer

In the preliminaries, Nel was simply one of the favorites to win the title, but was closely pitting against USA’s delegate, Michael Kevin Holtz. However, at the grand finale night, he simply delivered a well-meaning answer that wowed both the judges and the audience.

Nel picked the former South African President, Nelson Mandela when he was asked by Philippine King of Talk, Boy Abunda, if who among the world leaders he most likely to meet and why.

He smiled with confidence, with no hesitation he replied in spontaneity, “This man, I think stands for everything that love means, this man came out of prison [in the history that South Africa had] without any resentment. We had a feeling of togetherness in the way he ran our country, [and] he certainly inspired all of us to be the rainbow nation…

“I am incredibly proud to be a South African. I think Mandela completely encompasses everything that humanity and human rights stand for.”

That particular answer made him snatched the title from Holtz and will be the year-long ambassador of world’s gay men, carrying the ideals of MGW organization.

In an interview after the grand finale competition, he expressed his excitement not just for his victory, but because his own country will play host to the 2012 Mr. Gay World in Johannesburg.

Also, he looks forward to creating more meaningful experiences for the gay community during his reign, “I would like to organize events in sports and arts, which educate on our natural inherent sexuality, our multi-faceted characters and broad talents as human beings.

“Meeting like-minded individuals that are interested in being outspoken on human rights, gay equality and education are just some the things I would actively be involved with.”

Other Awards presented

Marc Ernest Biala's transformational and symbolic national costume made him beat the rest of the 23 delegates in the competition.

Leigh Charles from Australia, an early favorite and a crowd-drawer was named Mr. Gay Swimwear and Mr. Gay Formal wear. Madis Räästas from Estonia was voted by his fellow delegates as Mr. Gay Congeniality, while Barry Gouldsbury of Ireland won Pinoy (Fitness) Challenge, and Aaron Comis of New Zealand bagged the Mr. Gay Photogenic award.

The Philippines’ representative earned the People’s Choice award and Best in National Costume, respectively. Another Philippine delegate, Wilbert Tolentino was also given with the same recognition back in Whistler Canada, 2009.

The rest of the four finalists who completed the Top 10 [in random order] were Mischa Germeraad (Netherlands), Barry Gouldsbury (Ireland), Rupert Arrindell (Curacao), and Juan Manuel Lopez (Mexico).

Boy Abunda, an advocate for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders and a popular Filipino TV host personality was also given the Eric Butter Philanthropy Award. The said recognition aims to bring public recognition to dynamic individuals from around the world, whose values infuse humanitarian accomplishments, and provide inspiration to the next generations specifically in diversity issues with the LGBT and/or HIV and AIDS community.

Truly World-Class Show

‘Club Mwah!’, known to be the most outstanding theater-club in Asia, located in the Tiger City of Mandaluyong provided a world-class, spectacular Broadway-like production that left its guests (both locals and foreign) in awe.

The audience was composed of dignitaries, respected personalities in the entertainment circuit, fashion and politics; it was more of an elite and snooty crowd.

The openly-gay partnership of Pocholo Malillin and Cris Nicolas, owners of Club Mwah did an excellent show, which the rest of the world must see due to its éclat costumes and unforgettable moves performed by its resident all-gay men Follies de Mwah.

Malillin beamed with pride when he said, “It is our privilege to give a great show with Filipino gay performers that Filipinos can be proud of. We gave not just our best, we even outdid what we thought was already our best. We are happy that the crowd loved it.

“Also, we believe that the organization of Mr. Gay World deserves only the best for its relevant contribution in uplifting the gay communities around the world.”

That evening, Philippines’ member of the board Noemi Alberto, known for being a gay advocate herself made the customary turnover to South African’s national producer Coenie Kukkuk, which will be the next host and producer of Mr. Gay World 2012 in Johannesburg, South Africa from April 4-8.

Members of the panel judges were Binibining Pilipinas-Universe 2002 Karen Loren Agustin, editor-in-chief and founder of an Australian-based DNA magazine Andrew Creagh, Swedish international makeup artist Jorgen Landby, co-founder and co-publisher of a Holland-based gay publications – Winq and Mate magazines Remco Teppema, Mr. Gay World 2010 Charl Van Den Berg, Philippines’ first Miss Universe Gloria Diaz, and MGW president and founder Eric Butter.

MGW’s director for rules and policy and MGW’s director for Africa and Europe Brian Merriman along with MGW’s director of North America and Media Relations Dean Nelson verified the results in a closely contested week of challenges, public appearances and ambassadorial opportunities.

Philippine King of Talk, Boy Abunda hosted the finale show with Miss International 2005, Precious Lara Quigaman; and the model-comedienne Wilma Doesn’t.


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Writer-Editor-Facilitator, Creative Strategist-Marketer, Publicist and PR Practitioner, Publisher and Social Entrepreneur.


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