CAPE TOWN - South Africa’s Louw Breytenbach from Boksburg in Gauteng has been crowned Mr Gay World, becoming the third South African to do so since the inception of the competition in 2009.
The competition is a twenty-first century public performance where the delegates represent their nations as the best spokesperson and embodiment of the spirit of the countries.
This year’s event was held virtually and streamed on the official Mr Gay World YouTube channel.
Organisers say the objective of the competition is to find a worldwide ambassador and spokesperson for LGBTQIA+ rights and issues as well as a role model for LGBTQIA+ youth.
“We have a responsibility to take up the torch and light the way for the community that comes after us,” said winner Breytenbach, who has a degree in Christian-based education, another in theatre-based education and a diploma in theology.
He is the director of the National Arts Association of South Africa and owner of LALT House of Growth, an educational theatre centre for community development through art.
Breytenbach is also an actor, television presenter and entrepreneur who is passionate about mental health issues affecting LGBTIQ+ people and uses his various platforms to advocate for the cause.
He said the LGBTQIA+ community needed visibility, diversity and inclusion, and stressed the need to break the silence on mental health, trans rights, stigmatisation around HIV and bullying.
In a Facebook message posted to his profile on Sunday, Breytenbach shared that 12 years ago he had tried to commit suicide a third time and also spoke about being in a life-altering car accident which was highly publicised and landed him in a mental health facility.
“Then I made the (news) for my weight struggles and closing businesses (during Covid-19) lockdown and so many were shocked that a year ago I cleaned houses to make ends meet and keep my staff employed,” he said.
“A cancer scare, C19, and plenty of breakdowns later ... We got here. NEVER STOP TRYING. NEVER STOP FIGHTING. NEVER STOP BELIEVING. Your future self depends on you getting through today's struggle. You are so worthy.”
For the first time in a decade, an African country has walked away with the crown.
“Sixty-nine countries in the world still criminalise homosexuality and 29 of them are in Africa, I want to be a driving force to change this and challenge this along with my existing charities,” said Breytenbach, who was in May crowned Mr Gay World South Africa.
African News Agency (ANA)