After a three week public campaign and an intense two days of challenges, Bharat Mahajan was announced as the winner of Mr Gay New Zealand 2021 on stage at the Ending HIV Big Gay Out just before Auckland was sent into a level three lockdown on Sunday.
The final judging came down to the wire with the 28-year-old Mental Health Services Manager from Thames Bharat Mahajan named the winner ahead of Thomas Notton, 24, from Auckland.
The announcement followed the final challenge which saw each of the finalists speak to the huge crowd at the Big Gay Out about why they were in the competition and their goals for the next 12 months if they were to win.
Mahajan won the most overall points from six different challenges; Online Vote, Online Opinion Piece, One-on-one Interview, LGBTI Knowledge Test, Charity Fundraising and Public Speaking.
In accepting the award in front of the crowd Mahajan paid tribute to his fiancee and whānau for being so supportive.
“Thanks to all those people that have supported me and seen something in me, even the time when I struggled to see that in myself, but that’s one thing I’ve really worked hard to correct which is believe in yourself before you start believing that people will believe in you,” Mahajan said straight after his win.
“Growing up with my step mum and their Māori family and learning about that was quite a wholesome experience. My Dad is from the middle east and Mum’s background is Indian so there’s quite a lot of colours in there.”
“It’s a huge step forward for our migrant population in Aotearoa and I see this as empowering that specific group in our community that sometimes struggle to find or ask for support support”.
During the challenge stages of the competition, Mahajan said he wanted to use his year as Mr Gay New Zealand to improve services LGBTQ+ people in the rural areas of New Zealand as he noticed moving out to Thames in 2018 how much rural areas miss out on vital support services and resources.
“Living in a rural community and managing the mental health services for the DHB was the biggest eye-opener to some of the parts of Aotearoa that are untouched, and not fully resourced because the reach of organisations are not that far,” Mahajan explained.
“So helping to increase that reach to those communities is going to be one of the biggest things for me that I want to work towards.
“Once we get the reach there will be awareness and education and we will be able to make change.”
As part of being Mr Gay New Zealand 2021, Mahajan will become an ambassador for the NZ AIDS Foundation and work with them to promote their key strategy of ending HIV in Aotearoa by 2025.
“This is the opportunity that you can’t take for granted because you’re backing up so many people, some people can’t voice their own opinions so you’re actually standing up for those who can’t really do much so its a huge responsibility.
“I couldn’t think of a more exciting time than in 2021. People are listening, the voices are the strongest and we are making a lot of noise and the people that were sleeping are finally waking up.”
Last Updated on Feb 16, 2021