After making headlines earlier this year for adjusting their current policies to allow anyone who identifies as a man to compete in their international competitions (a groundbreaking and inclusive move for trans men), the Mr. Gay World pageant has officially crowned its latest champion, and it is none other than South African heartthrob Louw Breytenbach!
According to a profile in The South African, the 32-year-old from Boksburg, Johannesburg is an actor who is only the third man in the nation's history to take home the crown, and the first to do so in over a decade! After founding the Boksburg drama school in 2012, Breytenbach is also the director of the National Arts Association of South Africa and the owner of the LALT House of Growth, a talent development organization for aspiring actors. A passionate mental health advocate, Breytenbach also won the Mr. Photogenic, Personal Interview, and Viewers Choice 2021 awards at this year's Mr. Gay World, which took place virtually.
"12 years ago I tried to commit suicide a third time. 2.5 years ago I was in a life-altering car accident which was highly publicized and landed me in a mental health facility," Breytenbach said in a statement, reflecting on some of the struggles he's faced in his life before winning Mr. Gay World. "Then I made the papers for my weight struggles and closing businesses in lockdown and so many were shocked that a year ago I cleaned houses to make ends meet and keep my staff employed. A cancer scare, and plenty of breakdowns later...we got here."
"NEVER STOP TRYING. NEVER STOP FIGHTING. NEVER STOP BELIEVING. Your future self depends on you getting through today's struggle. You are so worthy."
"I am so blessed and thankful to every person who made this possible!" Breytenbach wrote in an emotional Instagram statement following his epic Mr. Gay World win. "The crown is in Africa for the first time in a decade! 69 countries in the world still criminalize homosexuality and 29 of them are in Africa. I want to be a driving force to change this and challenge this along with my existing charities."
"A very special thank you to the Lord above, my family, friends, fans, supporters, my amazing sponsors, management, and the silent observers who have cheered me on. THANK YOU," he continued: "You will never know how you have impacted my life, and I hope to be a strong enough leader to impact others."
"Here is to all those who love freely, loudly, and boldly. We did it."
Scroll through to see more pictures of our reigning Mr. Gay World! And for more on Breytenbach, make sure to follow him on Instagram, @louwbreytenbach02!