South Africa’s Oelof de Meyer embroiled in Mr Gay World controversy


Oelof de Meyer / Instagram

Oelof de Meyer has joined a number of 2016 Mr Gay World contestants who have slammed the running of the recent contest in Malta.

De Meyer represented South Africa in the international event in April, in which around 20 men vied for the title; ultimately won by Spain’s Roger Gosalbez Pitaluga.

Now, a raft of complaints has emerged from contestants from Canada, Czech Republic, Argentina, New Zealand and Malta, in addition to De Meyer.

As reported by Daily Xtra, the men have made numerous claims, including that the event was mismanaged and badly organised. There was an allegation that a contestant was threatened by the organisers with a bad score if he complained. Questions have also been asked about the way that delegates were scored.

A range of problems were said to be due to the death of the organiser of the Malta competition, a month before the event, leaving it in crisis. (It is the responsibility of each host country’s organiser to put on the event.)

De Meyer, who came in seventh place, specifically complained that he had personally paid for black tie formal wear for an event that was then cancelled at the last minute. (De Meyer has since clarified that his suit and mask for the event was sponsored, but the point remains that the time and effort was for naught.) He also said that other events ran late or were cancelled and that food was not provided to contestants at times.

Mr Gay World president Eric Butter told Daily Xtra that the claims by the six delegates were either exaggerated or false. He also accused Xtra of a smear campaign against him and Mr Gay World.

“We resent journalists who try to bring disrepute to our organisation and gossip about meaningless aspects of the event,” Butter said in a letter.

De Meyer told Mambaonline that while he stood by his claims he did not regret participating in the Mr Gay World competition.

“I met remarkable, supportive people on this journey, and the overwhelming support I received from South Africa and globally is something that I will always remember,” he said. “I know that I represented South Africa the best I could, and I believe I made us proud regardless the outcome and controversy.”

He admitted that he had experienced a “difficult time” after the event but said he had now come to terms with his dismay.

“I am not angry or upset, at least not anymore. I remain deeply disappointed at the lack of organisation of the event,” said De Meyer. “I am also concerned that the image the organisation presents to the world – that it promotes LGBT rights around the globe – is not what I observed or experienced.”

He urged the organisers of Mr Gay World to become more transparent and clear on the objectives of the competition and to improve the event’s planning and said that “there should be more transparency on the way scores are calculated”.

De Meyer explained that he decided to speak out to prevent future delegates from entering the competition under the “incorrect assumption”.

“I can’t walk away from this without describing my experience, as it will be unjust to future delegates,” he said. “In addition, many delegates spent a considerable amount of resources and time to prepare for the event. For me, like many of the other delegates, this felt like a huge waste of our effort.”

When asked if he believes that South Africa should continue to send delegates to Mr Gay World, he replied: “Any opportunity we are granted to utilise a platform to promote LGBTI rights and awareness should be taken on.

“However, I believe the organisation has lost its credibility promoting this cause and it’s up to future delegates and their producers to make an informed decision.”

The directors of Mr Gay Mardi Gras Southern Africa, which has the license to send a local representative to Mr Gay World, addressed the furore with the following statement:

“The directors of the Mr Gay Mardi Gras Southern Africa (MRGMGSA) competition acknowledge that the representative for South Africa at Mr Gay World 2016, Oelof de Meyer, has made certain allegations about his experience at Mr Gay World 2016 in Malta.

“The directors acknowledge the concerns raised by De Meyer and have forwarded these to the Mr Gay World body for comment.

“We are fully confident the issues will be resolved and look forward to seeing the current Mr Gay Mardi Gras, AleXander Steyn, taking part in Mr Gay World 2017.”

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