Just two months after being crowned Mr. Gay World 2021, Louw Breytenbach from South Africa, resigned after refusing to sign the pageant’s contract calling it “unconstitutional and opaque”.
Breytenbach, TV presenter and actor, says since he was crowned Mr. Gay South Africa in May this year and then Mr. Gay World in October, his relationship with the pageant executives, Mr. Gay World CEO, John-Louis O’Neil, and it’s chairperson, Johann van Niekerk, has deteriorated. He claims the owner of the competition, Eric Butter, has not even congratulated him since winning the contest.
When he was crowned Mr. Gay World, O’Neil sent Breytenbach a contract to sign, as he does with all winners. But Breytenbach refused to sign it resulting in a back and forth legal battle.
The contract stipulates that the organization be his exclusive agent when he lands any bookings or acting roles. “I already have an agent who looks after my TV interests. I don’t need them to manage whatever TV opportunities I get. My suggestion was that they manage me based on opportunities pertaining to the pageant and my role as Mr. Gay World.”
He claims the first contract he received, mentioned remuneration. When he questioned its terms and vagueness, he received an amended contract – this time excluding any mention of remuneration. A penalty of 5 000 euros applies, says the contract, if Breytenbach leaves the pageant for whatever reason.
“This penalty is unlawful. What if they are in breach of contract, should I still pay the penalty? This does not make sense,” say Breytenbach. His biggest concern was the organisers’ inability to be audited when they refused to divulge how funds are used for the Mr. Gay World Foundation. “I think it is my right to know what happens to money that I raise for the organization in my capacity as Mr. Gay World.” The organization boasts about its sponsors that include a popular car and hotel brand. Breytenbach says he was never given a car or any hotel stay. “Who is benefiting from all of these sponsorships?”, he asks.
“I led the Gay Pride march in Namibia last weekend and was not given anything towards my expenses. But I was reprimanded via their lawyers to tag the organization in all social media posts.”
Butter and O’Neil also refused to meet with him and his lawyers to resolve the matter. This week, Breytenbach instructed his lawyers to draw up his letter of resignation. Hailing from Boksburg in Gauteng, Louw is the third South African to clinch the title since the competition’s inception in 2009.
Talking about where it all went wrong, Breytenbach says: “I think my image was being abused because I was already a media personality before I entered. I am disappointed as I really thought the Mr. Gay World competition was a platform I could use to broaden my charity work. I also thought they had the interests of the LGBTQIA+ community at heart. Sadly, I was wrong.”