Van den Berg (far right) with first runner up,
Byron Adu of Australia and Max Krzyzanowski,
last year’s winner. (Photo: Carlos Melia)

At just after three in the morning local time on Valentine’s Day, Charl van den Berg, Mr. Gay South Africa, was crowned as the Worldwide Mr. Gay 2010 in Oslo, Norway.

The competition (previously known as Mr. Gay World) drew delegates from all over the world representing all of the continents. Australia came second and the rest of the top five were made up of Hong Kong, Spain and China. Both Mr. Photogenic and Mr. Swimwear were won by Russia and Brazil took the Mr. Popularity title. The competition was streamed live on the internet to viewers around the world.

“The competition is very tough, but I am confident,” said van den Berg from Oslo just before the start of the finale. That confidence shone through when he had to answer a question put to the final five finalists: “If you were to speak to a high school about sexuality, what would you tell them?”

Van den Berg clearly impressed the judges with his answer: “Sexuality is a private matter. Regardless of what your sexuality is, we are all the same – we are all human beings.”

“The LGBTI community in South Africa have expressed their jubilation at his win through e-mails, text messages and messages of congratulations on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, which started rolling in directly after his win in Oslo,” said the directors of Mr. Gay SA – Juan Lerm, Coenie Kukkuk and Cor Jansen van Rensburg – in a statement.

Twenty eight year old van den Berg won the local title at a glamorous pageant ceremony at the State Theatre in Pretoria in November last year.

Morten Ruda, President of Mr. Gay Europe, congratulated the local organisers on van den Berg’s win, stating: “He has made a deep impression on all of us here in Oslo! Well deserved. Best wishes for all his future endeavours.”

The newly crowned Worldwide Mr. Gay’s first duty will be to fly to Vancouver, Canada to take part in the festivities of the 2010 Winter Olympics. While there, van den Berg will be an ambassador for equality and diversity while taking part in the Pride House – a safe space that brings visibility to LGBTI people in sport.

Van den Berg is also expected to attend Cape Town Pride later this month and the Pink Loerie Mardi Gras in Knysna, which takes place at the end of April. According to Mr. Gay SA organisers, supporters in Cape Town have already indicated that they want to stage a huge party in celebration once van den Berg returns to the Mother City.

Mr. Gay South Africa’s directors thanked all of the people who made the 2009 Mr. Gay South Africa competition and van den Berg’s trip to Oslo possible, specifically sponsors Club Travel Honeydew, Peter Bondisio of Bondisio Couture, Wilco Stemmet from Bone Wear, Paul Fouche from GF, Diesel and Jean Paul Gaultier.

Worldwide Mr. Gay describes itself as a “twenty First Century beauty contest where the delegates represent their nation as the best spokesperson and embody the spirit of their nation”.

To read Mambaonline’s recent interview with Charl Van den Berg, click here.

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