UPDATE: Andy took away the title of Mr Gay World 2012 at the weekend. On the weekend of this year’s Mr Gay World competition, Mr Gay New Zealand 2011 (and this year’s Mr Gay NZ Producer) talks about our current champ, Andreas Derleth (Andy), and reflects on the reasons we have such competitions, what they are trying to achieve, and why Andy would make a great Mr Gay World.
STORY BY AARON COMIS, PHOTOS BY ALEX EFIMOFF
So what is this ‘Mr Gay World’ competition all about and why is it relevant to New Zealand?
The Mr Gay World organisation aims to create a positive image of gay people around the world, strengthen the fight against HIV while supporting those that live with it and fight discrimination in the many forms that it can and does take.
While we are lucky in New Zealand compared to many other countries with the rights that we share there is still much work to be done, however today’s fight takes a different form to the ones previously fought and we as a generation now enjoy the freedoms because of what our past generations have done, so you could say it’s our turn to do the same for future generations now.
In legislative terms New Zealand has almost everything a gay person could want in equality. With the exception of marriage and adoption laws which with a bit more of a push will be sorted everything legislatively looks pretty good, so what more do we have to fight for and where is this going?
It’s very simple, our problems are social, the only difference between someone who is gay and someone who is straight is who they are attracted to, nothing more, nothing less, right? So why is it so hard to come out? Because in many people’s eyes it is still seen as a bad thing, not socially acceptable and not ‘normal’ and again this comes down to stereotypes, beliefs and misunderstandings that revolve around who and what a gay person is. Some say we threaten the family, others just don’t agree with ‘our lifestyle’ because it was a choice right? Wrong.
It’s the process of normalisation that will take time. We need to correct the false truths that these people share and in essence we need to be the very best that we can be in every part of our lives if we are to be successful in changing these. This may not seem fair but it is what many minority groups face and not just us. We need to showcase not what ‘gay life’ is like in New Zealand but what ‘life’ is like in New Zealand for a person who just happens to be gay, because we are like anyone else living in this country, others must see us as one of them and I don’t mean changing who we are, we should be able to be exactly who we are, individual and not afraid of being that. It is all about being a good person and living a good life, and above all we need to lift each other up instead of putting each other down, these are the things that will change perceptions of who we are and make it easier for our future generations. Coming out should not be a process so much as it should be something you just figure out and then tell people.
So back to Andy now, let’s look at who Andy is. The first thing you notice about Andy is his sheer size. Standing tall at 6ft plus Andy is not a small guy in fact if you were to run into him on the street at night you might be scared until your saw him smile of course because he is for all intense purpose one of the nicest guys you will ever meet. Andy has a great job, he stays fit and healthy, he would bend over backwards to help out a friend in need, he has chosen New Zealand to settle down and live after coming here on a working holiday permit and now recently on 11/11/11 he entered into a Civil Union with his long term partner Tom.
To many people Andy leads the life that most aspire to, he is a shining example of not ‘gay life’ in New Zealand but living in New Zealand, 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.
Self-fulfilment in life is all about achieving goals, some of us want to get married others not, some of us want kids others not so it’s important to note that while we don’t all fit the same mould there are some generalisations to live by. Being a good person and living a good life.
So as Andy heads away to the worlds this week as your Mr Gay New Zealand 2012 I encourage you to support him in his quest to become Mr Gay World and vote online as much as possible, it’s free and by helping create awareness hopefully we can all change the misconceptions of who a gay person is and make coming out and easier task for many future generations.
Online public voting takes place at the Mr Gay World website. Votes can be cast once per IP address daily over the duration of the competition.
- Mr Gay World: ‘Be gay, but please be normal’
- Gay role models: Bill Logan
- Meet Mr Gay NZ 2011
- Andy wins Mr Gay World
- Mathura-Jeffree’s bitch fight