A local school teacher has hopes of becoming a global gay role model by winning the 2019 Mr Gay World South Africa pageant.
Dencil Hattingh, from Atlantis but formerly of Table View, has made it to the top-14 finals in the annual search for an advocate of LGBTQ+ causes.
On Monday, the pageant announced that the event, which was supposed to take place in Port Elizabeth on January 31, had been cancelled due to “unforeseen circumstances and limited sponsorship,” according to Johann van Niekerk, director of Mr Gay World South Africa.
He added: “As expected with the time of the year, it was challenging to secure sponsors and, with most corporates on leave until mid-January, we weren’t able to attain sufficient funding to host the 2019 event. As a result, a decision was taken to enable SMS and SnapScan voting, which gives the contestants a platform to increase their chances of winning and garner more support from the LGBTQ+ community.”
Mr Van Niekerk said people could still vote for their favourite 2019 finalist who would go on to compete at Mr Gay World 2020, which takes place at the Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Arts Festival in Knysna from April 30 to May 3.
As part of their community outreach, each contestant must find two items to be auctioned to raise funds for the non-profit XOXO foundation that supports causes and events of the LGBTQ+ community.
Randall Martin, a resident of Cheshire Home in Sanddrift for people with disabilities, donated two of his paintings for Mr Hattingh to auction.
Besides teaching, Mr Hattingh is a radio presenter on Radio Atlantis. He has used the platform to tackle every “taboo” topic and questions people have about the LGBTIQA+ issues while at the same time helping those who are still struggling with their sexual identity.
“I want to live freely in society without judgement. It’s important to me that everyone is accepted the way they are, because everyone has the right to live the way they want,” he said.
He said Mr Gay World South Africa went beyond pageantry, serving as a platform for the voiceless.
“My hope and prayer is that one day sexuality, gender and social construct will be something of the past and that we see each other as one,” he said.
To vote for Dencil Hattingh SMS MRGWSA02 to 45509. SMSes cost R1.50 a vote and voting lines close at midnight on February 10. Once you’ve voted, stay tuned to the mrgwa Facebook page and www.mrgwsa.com for updates and the winner announcement.