As I writing these words I am in my room at Askari Game Lodge, about two hours’ drive outside Johannesburg. I have just been on a safari watching lions, wild beasts and antelopes, and right now, on the outside off my porch, down in a pond a grumpy hippo is complaining in the dark accompanied by the intense sound of the African night. It is the end of the first night of Mr Gay World 2012.
This morning I meet all the Delegates, including nine from Europe, for the first time. It is always exciting to meet and greet the Delegates at the beginning of each Mr Gay Europe and Mr Gay World competition, to get a voice and a personality to go with the photo and the facts on the webpage. Unfortunately the German Delegate could not come due to health problems – get well soon Chris! – and the UK Delegate dropped out just hours before the departure from England due to personal issues. I am not too worried though; the nine Delegates left have already proven to be worthy and good representatives for their continent.
After the first information meeting and a chaotic exchange of gifts and souvenirs we were ready for the press conference. Mr Eric Butter, the president of MGW stated: “…we are able to work with you to shake off the shackle of homophobia. Where there is discord let there be hope because I strongly believe together we can make things better for the global LGTBI community. This year we have 22 men representing their nation that have come together to share their stories, their struggle and successes and to make new friends from all around the world.”
When the press had got their photos and interviews we all travelled to the wonderful lodge of Askari. Here the Delegates had to do their written exam, they have been fitting suits for the grand finale and at dinner we were treated to African and international cuisine.
Later on I will introduce you to the three Delegates from this beautiful continent and of course give you an update on how well the Europeans are doing. Right now I feel slipping into the African night, exhausted after a long day, well assured that this Mr Gay World is going to be very special.
President of MGE and Area Director MGW Europe