Andreas Derleth - Mr Gay World

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[00:00:00] This program is brought to you by pride in [00:00:05] My name is Sandy, as I said, I'm 33 years old right now. I'm originally from Germany. I was born in a very small town called passport. I grew up there and then later on that the military service in Germany the compulsory one, and also was part of fire brigade in my hometown one Ontario one for some time, I was an altar boy, grew up in a Catholic environment. And yeah, later on, I started in a different city. Then I started working in along in which is Noonan back, and as a regional manager for it stores. Later on that the same thing, same job in the UK, in Bournemouth and in Southampton for six months each. And then I decided I wanted to see something different and came to New Zealand in 2008 in February. And yeah, ever since steak Yeah, I initially only wanted to stay on a working holiday permit for one year. But yes, life plays out, I ran into the right man and fell in love as a country. And still here four years, four and a half years down the track. [00:01:10] When did you realize your game? [00:01:12] I realized when I was gay when I was about 1213 years old. However, I didn't realize that what I said was called gay, I noticed that I found me more attractive than woman. But that what I was feeling was called gay as something I only realized about three or four years later, because it was just a topic not being talked about at all. So I didn't know anything about text gay life, or any of that I discovered all of myself eventually, if you didn't [00:01:39] hear or see about gay life. How did you think you were? I mean, was it confusing to you? Or was that? [00:01:46] Yes, of course, it was confusing. And once I realized that, I like men, and that being part of the Catholic Church, I knew it was seen as wrong there. So it was, of course very hard for me. And I did hide it for a long time. And eventually, when I was about 2223, came to terms with it. And this is then when I was little, I had my first laugh. And eventually it started coming out step after step. [00:02:13] So how did you come to terms with it? [00:02:16] It was a process really, my goal was, once I'm out of my little hometown, I thought I'm going to study I'm going to be in a bigger town, and I can start meeting other gay people and start living my life. However, one thing played on the other, I was studying chemical engineering, which was quite hard, which took pretty much all of my time. And so I didn't really have time to start a gay life or find gay friends or find new friends. And that had an impact on my studies, I didn't really, I wasn't able to put everything in it, I was very unhappy, I was depressed. And so the study started to fail. And I kind of didn't achieve any of the two things I wanted to achieve in this bigger city, which was studying and [00:03:02] living a gay life starting starting to be the person who I am. And so I reached almost a breaking point at which I then said, Okay, I either have to end this or I have to accept who I am. And this is when everything got better. After I finally accepted, I asked a friend, a gay friend, somebody I knew, but he didn't know that I was gay and talk to him. And from there, [00:03:26] it all got better. How was it coming up to see your family or your friends? It was, [00:03:31] in most cases better than I anticipated. [00:03:38] My mom took a bit of time because she's very Catholic. And that set in her ways and beliefs was my father, it was the easier part. I thought it would be the harder one. [00:03:50] But [00:03:51] he had depth his thoughts and his behaviors and his mindset when he gets new information when he [00:04:01] looks into a situation. And so it was very moving. When he found out my mom actually told him after I kind of had to tell her there was no way out. There was no way out situation. And so when he came home from work in the evening, he just said to me, hey, why didn't you tell me earlier? Um, you're always going to be my son, and I'm always going to love you. And I was blown away by that because I was really scared. He was a Catholic man. [00:04:28] Yeah. [00:04:30] Yeah. But as I said, he just changes his mind when he comes across New information and does the right thing. [00:04:37] So what was the situation that you couldn't get out? [00:04:40] was a funny story. I, it was about five months after I told this first person that I was gay. And I I met my first two friends, gay friends. And then I was hanging out with them. And eventually, I'd like I met my first partner, we've been together for months, then I was in hospital had my tonsils removed, and I was really feeling bad. And I was just the first day at home still recovering. He called me he said, I'm a day off, he was a chef, and said, I'll just come to my place and look after you. And so I did this, and I was in really bad shape. So when I returned a day later, my mom kinda was waiting for me behind the door and crying and she said, I know something's wrong with you, and it must be drunk. So I caught it or something. And so I told her, I showed her black and white picture of my boyfriend and said, Oh, that's my boyfriend. However, in German, the word boyfriend and friend is the same. So she didn't realize it, or what I was trying to tell her until I made it quite clear. And then she was on the one hand a bit relieved. On the other hand, she couldn't really handle it, because that was a completely new thing for her. But yeah, she went to my father's workplace right away, told him and then the other situation I just described unfolded in the evening. [00:06:00] So it was a moving story, my younger brother, listen at the door while I was telling my mom, so that was some done as well. And I told my older brother briefly after, how does it sort of fit close relationships with my mom, and my older brother initially thought, I need help, and it can be fixed. And my younger brother and my father, okay, was it right away? It was a bit of a process for my mom and my older brother. But now they Okay, was it as well. And they did a lot of research and reading and a lot of conversation. And then they kind of understood that it is not a choice and that it's nothing bad. Nothing wrong with me. I just love man. [00:06:42] What about coming up to your friends, [00:06:45] was also better than expected, I think I found really, really good friends. And I didn't really lose any friends. I think I was lucky in that context. But this is because I started selecting the right people as friends. quite early on in my life. Usually when you're young, you are friends with the people who are either in your neighborhood, your school or you hang out with in clubs. [00:07:08] But yeah, I didn't have too many friends when I was younger, for two reasons. First, I was already pretty selective them. And secondly, I think I was just lacking the self confidence of building up friendships, because I knew I was different but couldn't handle it. So the little friends I had were mostly from the Catholic Church as well, from older boys, I met fellow other older boys Not that I was playing with them or anything. But we just shared the same basic values. And you know, that build strong friendships which are still alive now that I've been here New Zealand for four and a half, five years. When I was back a couple of weeks ago, we just caught up and it was just like, I haven't been away at all. [00:07:48] One of the basic values that you value in a friendship. [00:07:51] First and foremost, its reliability. And do as you say, and say as you do. [00:07:57] I think this is the base on what you can build and then trust as well. I do value trust a lot [00:08:04] on being there for each other wanting the best for each other. I'd say these three things. [00:08:10] So why did you choose New Zealand? [00:08:13] A good question. [00:08:15] After a very stressful year in England and my job, I decided I need a break. I need something else. I wanted to see more of the world instead of going back to Germany, and I wanted it to be an English speaking country because it was the only other language I spoke apart from German. I thought about the United States then but didn't quite fit the ride. Nice. Well, holiday destination. [00:08:39] Yeah, wasn't wasn't the right thing for me. And Australia seemed a bit too hot. I don't like the heat too much. So it was pretty much left with a choice between New Zealand and Canada. And both rank very, very high. But New Zealand kinda made it seem more exotic. It has a very, very good reputation in Germany as a holiday destination as a right place. And you look great in a lot of friends. So I just don't give it a go. [00:09:05] So you arrived here and and then found your partner? [00:09:10] Yeah, that's right. Um, I ran into him right away, you could [00:09:13] say I was looking on Trade Me and on gay Romeo for a place to stay on gay Romeo can put your little bit in practice stumble. And he had one of those. So I was in contact with a couple of guys about a room to stay. And one of them was my partner. Now my partner. [00:09:32] And yeah, he just seemed too nice to say in his apartment right in the city. So I said, Yep, I'll take the room. He picked me up at the airport I moved in and never [00:09:42] did you expect to come to New Zealand and find so [00:09:45] I just wanted to be here, have a fun easy year, and bugger off again. [00:09:50] And still here. I think this is how life plays [00:09:52] when you look forward, you'll never find it. Just be open, be yourself. Be friendly, and you run into somebody. [00:10:00] So you've enjoyed a couple of competitions. The first one was, Mr. Guy, New Zealand, why did you do them? [00:10:10] Again, I did a bit of voluntary work when I was younger, while I was an altar boy at Planned youth camps. I wasn't the voluntary fire brigade. And I wanted to contribute to the society again a bit of the community. But it was kind of not possible while I was in too many places with studying with army sir with with a bit of work here and along and in the UK. So once I settled down here, and I've been at that point for three years in New Zealand when I thought about it, to do something, and there were never too many candidates from what I knew. So I thought oh, in 2010, I could go for the competition in February 2011. But I went back with my partner to show him Europe in when was it January and it was all a bit too close. So I said now it's not the right thing. And but when the call petition for 2012 came around, I said, Okay, now I've got the time now we'll give it a go. And let's see how I can contribute. And my goal was from the very beginning that I would like to use the opportunity of interviews, especially mainstream media interviews, to try to make our society a bit more open to all its homosexuality, to try to tell people it is good parenting to tell your children that there's something else out there apart from straight laugh, that it doesn't matter who you love, What counts is that you love and having a position as mystic and New Zealand, which gives you are an opportunity for interviews, it's just a good platform for it. [00:11:39] What drives you in that respect? I mean people into those competitions for a whole variety of reasons. Why did you want to push those those messages? [00:11:49] Because of my own experience, because it was so hard for myself to accept that I'm gay. And I think it would have been easier [00:11:55] if [00:11:57] my environment would have been a bit more open about it. Not necessary. Not even necessarily accepting, but just open about it a bit of communication about it. And I think this is what you can do with this position. [00:12:10] The Mystic a New Zealand competition. What does it involve? [00:12:14] It was the traditional stuff, you know, a couple of questions on the stage presentations, the crowd, see how loud the crowd cheers a bit of a sports competition. And then clap where formal wear and swimwear on the stage. And it was at the biggest out and it family bar. [00:12:32] Had you ever done anything like that before? [00:12:34] No, I haven't. I was completely new to it. Well, how did it feel? It was quite exciting. And yeah, I was surprised to win because I didn't really have much stage experience before. [00:12:46] Nervous [00:12:47] Damn, yeah, definitely, definitely course. [00:12:50] How do you how do you cope with the news? [00:12:53] You just try to be yourself. And that always works for me. I don't really have specifics strategies to calm myself down. I'll just try to [00:13:03] do my best. So you want as I did, and congratulations. And what does that mean for you? [00:13:11] I meant for me [00:13:13] that [00:13:14] I could start doing whatever I wanted to do. However, because the midst of a world competition was so close. It got straight in a couple of interviews, but then it got straight into all you have to register, then you have to prepare for that. So I had pretty much two months to get everything sorted to go to South Africa to Chinese book for that competition. And apart from a couple of interviews, that was really all I did outside work in these two months [00:13:40] to like alter your self confidence or the way you looked at yourself and anyone [00:13:45] know, I think I didn't, I think because it took me 10 years to realize who I am and be comfortable with it. It didn't really change much anymore because I gained my self confidence in the process of coming out or accepting myself. [00:13:59] How did your family react when you said you have Mr. [00:14:02] Kenya Zealand? And they were kind of okay, was it far away place? [00:14:09] A bit proud maybe of a chief man but it wasn't a big too big deal. [00:14:14] Traveling to Johannesburg from the gay world. It was that something you had to find yourself? [00:14:20] Get paid for. And all that was paid for by the Mr. Word organization. [00:14:24] Tell me about that. How did how did that all happen? [00:14:27] Yeah, the National 25 countries was national winners of Mr. Gay competitions can go to the Mr. Gay world competition last year was in Manila. This year, it wasn't China's book. Usually, the National Director of a mystic gay competition is funding the trip to the Mr. Gay world competition, but there's not much structure in New Zealand, it's not really a company or person owning the competition. It was paid for by the mystic a world competition. So um, I flew over there, beginning of April. And there was this intense competition over five days. [00:15:05] What happens over five days, [00:15:07] there are a handful of tractors and I think it was seven of them. They constantly keep an eye on you. They monitor your every move. You do sports challenges, you do a written exam on Shelby TV rights. You have a panel interview, which is pretty much like a job interview, they sit down with you, they want to discover what kind of person you are. They want to find out what your vision is in life, why you joined the competition. And then you also got the classical stuff at the end of the week, was a big show in a theater where you have to do a contract as when we are formally on the stage. So it was a very intense competition with a very, very tight program. [00:15:46] But exciting. What was the hardest part for you? [00:15:53] The hardest part for me possibly was the outreach challenge, we went to Nikos East Haven, which is an orphanage for young children living with HIV, orphans, and seeing all these kids. [00:16:11] And I kind of compared it to my own life and my own upbringing, where I thought I was sometimes alone or where I was some in a situation where I was missing a person I could relate to was my personal feelings. I thought what these kids must be going through is really terrible. But then again, I'm this charity, because this Haven is giving them a bit of perspective and giving them a bit of life. And there was at the same same time while it was a very eye opening experience also a positive thing to see. [00:16:45] What was it like mixing with with competitors from around the world. [00:16:50] It was amazing. It was absolutely stunning crew we've we met as strangers, but we really left at friends. Anytime one of those guys came to New Zealand, I would anytime over them my house to stay at. It was very, very good atmosphere, we treated each other with respect and friendships formed. We heard that the previous year was a bit of elbowing and a bit of tough competition. But while we were competitive, we were also very, very friendly with each other. So it was a good group of people. [00:17:25] Why do you think these kind of competitions are important? [00:17:28] Because they highlight day life and they portray a bit more than what you usually see. Paper rates are really good. But [00:17:39] uh, Mr. Gay world competition, which emphasizes on looking for how it's called official, an ambassador for gay and human rights highlights that there is a serious background and that we still need to improve the image of gay men. And I think the midst of a world competition does a fantastic job of that showing of really good role models from all countries, each of these candidates was a person you can look up to. [00:18:09] So what was it like on the night when when you want [00:18:13] it was very exciting, and it was very, very hard to, to get into grasp and to understand, I was blown away, and it felt a bit like a dream, it didn't seem real. [00:18:25] And then, right away, got dragged from one interview to the next. And totally overwhelmed. So it was hard to say something very intelligently. But I kinda think I made my way through somehow. [00:18:41] Did you ever imagine in your wildest dreams that you would be standing, accepting, you know, Mr. Gay world, you know, when you're a teenager, [00:18:50] never ever. Because I was a completely different person, when I was young, I was I didn't have any self confidence, I was shy, I felt open alone. I think mainly because I was homosexual and couldn't come to terms with it. [00:19:06] I couldn't have imagined at the age of 1415, that I would ever live abroad in a different country, or that I would ever accept my homosexuality or that I would ever have a good life. But once I was accepting who I am, and come came to terms with it, or it turned my life around, I became more self confident I enjoyed life. And it is it is a very, very good experience, I think a gay person has to think about themselves a lot more than a straight person who was just the norm kind of thing. [00:19:41] And I also had the chance to make it It gets better video. And it's reminded me a lot of my journey, because there's so many videos on this platform that tell you that it gets better. And it's not just an empty an empty, saying it really does get better. [00:20:01] what some of the opportunities have come from being stuck in a world. [00:20:08] There are many fantastic opportunities. First and foremost, of course, the interviews where I can, as I mentioned before, try to educate society have it spark discussions about homosexuality, and about acceptance. [00:20:25] And also fantastic opportunities. Of course, the traveling, I've got a budget to travel to all five continents around the world, [00:20:34] which Mr. Cable organization is planning, suggesting tools for me, and then I hopefully can fit them all in. And therefore I was early on this year in Antwerp, and Amsterdam. And then Cologne, none back, and I came back here, and the next travel is going to be Africa. And it's all again, about promoting gay and human rights in these places. Also, you there, you will know that there's more work to do in Africa than there is in Europe, [00:21:04] with a New Zealand itself as they've been kind of any negative reaction or negative response. [00:21:11] I think you always have a bit of opposition. with homosexuality. It is. [00:21:17] It is something people some people still find unacceptable, discuss disgusting, for whatever reasons. So there's always going to be opposition, or newspaper articles online that people can comment. There was both of course, like in any discussion about gay marriage, homosexuality, gay adoption, whatever. There's always pros and cons. But I guess, like Obama Put it this morning so nicely, as many people saying horrible things about him, but he will always defend their right to do so. And I think this is some quite right. [00:21:51] I guess when people are being negative, how do you now [00:21:56] make sure that you remain confident? Do what are your ways of staying in a positive space? [00:22:07] Depends on on no matter which perspective actually it is. If people are being negative, it hardly affects me. Because I've been on my journey. If somebody wants to inside me and wants to make me feel better about me being gay, I think is, frankly, 20 years too late. That doesn't work anymore. I know who I am. It's I don't take it personally anymore. That's the one side of the question. The other side is, when I come across somebody insulting me or talking badly about gay life, I tried to have a fruitful discussion about it constructive discussion. For example, I'm in Queenstown for gay ski week, I stayed at a hotel and sitting in this bar one evening, there was two guys talking about all these guys in town, and all they might hit on you and what to do if a gay gay guy hits on you and one guy said to the other all, you just have to brush them off very rudely. And [00:23:10] so I was sitting there in this in this bar as well and thought, well, I feel the need to say something. So I thought I guys actually, I don't think you have to brush somebody off rudely. Just another thing some will do. And he looked at me a bit strangely, and [00:23:26] then I conversation carried on and then eventually, as always said, Hey, why don't you just take it as a compliment? They wouldn't be hitting on you a few was some ugly somebody. And yeah, the discussion evolved a bit. And what I noticed in this discussion was they've never thought about their point of view. I guess they've always been told or make jokes about it, it's cool that gays are strange or different, whatever. And, [00:23:55] but talking about it, and giving them a different point of view, I think, seeing their faces, how they started thinking about it. And this is how I go about it. Now, if, if I hear something like that, and often enough, it's a fruitful discussion. Sometimes, you know, when you just deal with drunken people, there's no point in a discussion you just [00:24:13] walk away? And what about when you're dealing with, say, a teenage girl who is, you know, anxious about who they might be? [00:24:25] How do you approach them? [00:24:26] I get it actually a lot through emails through Facebook, I get a lot of people writing to me with a whole lot of variety of problems. If a teenager approaches me, I tried to take the kind of usual counseling approach to first ask more questions to discover what's happening to determine if there's immediate danger. And if there's immediate danger, of course, I'll just take the appropriate steps try to get in touch. [00:24:55] Get in touch with authorities, if I can, of course, is the permission of the person who some getting in touch with me. Otherwise, it's really just by asking the right questions, trying to get the person to give the right answers themselves, because it's a journey where you have to make a decision to yourself, you can't tell people what to do. They have to discover it themselves, but you can get them as the right questions. So that is what I'm trying to do. [00:25:21] Is that happened where we've actually had to maybe forward it on to a counselor or to another authority. [00:25:29] It hasn't happened that I had a case, that was that bed. But what I do, if it seems out of my expertise, I refer them on if there was in New Zealand, for example, to outline where the specialists or if it is an international case, might just help on the internet. And you can always find a great organization which provides telephone advice or whatever, and just tell them just go there. You can can remain anonymously, and they will help you they will be there for you. Did you expect that when you kind of introduce Mr. Gay world, that that's maybe what you'd be doing? Um, I usually I always kind of think about the things I'm planning on doing. I'm a very organized person. And I anticipated that this is going to be part of it, but I didn't think it would be that much that big. [00:26:22] How has this changed you? [00:26:26] Oh, how is it changed me? [00:26:30] It's [00:26:30] good question. I think I should ask that my friends. If it changed me or I don't feel different, but maybe it has changed me without me noticing. Nothing better than a bit of external feedback. Sometimes.

This page features computer generated text of the source audio - it is not a transcript. The Artificial Intelligence Text is provided to help users when searching for keywords or phrases. The text has not been manually checked for accuracy against the original audio and will contain many errors.