Charlie Tredway—who lives with HIV—has been crowned Mr Gay New Zealand at Auckland’s Big Gay Out festival over the weekend.
Tredway works at the New Zealand Aids Foundation and has dedicated his life to HIV advocacy and awareness.
“I’m just really overwhelmed, never in a million years,” said Tredway. “The community got behind me and I’ve run out of words.”
The competition judges contestants not on their looks, but on their engagement with the LGBTIQ community, community outreach, public speaking, leadership, and mana—a Maori characteristic that loosely translates to ‘respect’ or ‘prestige’.
“I know I sort of seem like a one issue pony but creating a discussion around HIV and Sexual Health is the reason I wanted to enter in Mr Gay NZ,” Tredway said before the contest.
“We are in a really bold time for the HIV prevention response. Now more than ever before we have a combination of tools that can, without hyperbole, end new transmissions of HIV and make stigma a thing of the past.”
Mr Gay New Zealand 2016 Bernard Lee said Tredway was the perfect candidate.
"Charlie has been really strong across the whole competition including the public vote and charity sections where he ranked highest out of all of the finalists," he said.
"His work with the NZAF and the Ending HIV campaigns will complement all of the work he will do as an ambassador for New Zealand on the world stage."
Tredway will now represent New Zealand at the Mr Gay World in Madrid this May.