The muscular 21-year-old from Germany, Klaus Burkart, is this year’s winner of the all-male competition held in South Africa.
The big win for Burkart comes before contenders from Australia, Cuba, Iceland and even Zambia, where homosexuality is considered illegal.
Similar to high profile beauty pageants such as Miss Universe, Gay World tested the fashion sense and athletic ability of this year’s 21 finalists. But there’s bigger issues afoot than just their looks — like gay rights.
“I would like to lead the world to a point where it is not essential to even have a coming out,” Burkart, who is hopeful of an accepting future, writes in his profile. “It is my dream to share my campaign with delegates and supporters all over the world. I would really like to work together with them to create similar campaigns adapted for their own countries.”
Back home in Wangen in Allgau, the German winner is a milk technician, helping newborns nurse. With his new title, he wants to tour schools and be a role model for young gay men. He believes coming out to friends and family should be a normal thing all over the world and not such a feared disclosure of one’s identity.
Other finalists like Jesus Marquez in Spain have similar pursuits. He wants more freedoms for those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender in countries where it is a criminal offense.
Despite his country’s conservative Christian views, Siyathokoza Khumalo, of Zambia, wants to change the sinful perception of homosexuality. Filipino finalist, Nomer Yuzon, wants to teach acceptance and Marcos Barboza, of Ireland, wants to help gay immigrants not feel as isolated.
The countries finishing in the top five this year were Iceland, Belgium, Finland, Germany and Hong Kong.
India’s entrant to the this year’s competition reportedly last week went into hiding with his family after being ostracised by their local community. The 6-year-old competition hasn’t had an American finalist since 2013.