John Fernandez Raspado Reflects on His Year Spent as Mr. Gay World 2017

John Fernandez Raspado Reflects on His Year Spent as Mr. Gay World 2017

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The night John Fernandez Raspado won the title of Mr. Gay World 2017, the Filipino entrepreneur and HIV activist began the competition wearing an eye-catching cultural costume with a headband, breast piece, armlets and loincloth made of vivid yellow, red and black beads. For the swimwear portion he showed off his ripped physique in a white Speedo covered in bright red lips. And during formal wear, John Raspado appeared in a dashing, form-fitting black tuxedo, his lapels and back covered in dazzling black sequins.

But despite his show-stopping appearance, Raspado’s handsomeness, his taste in swimsuits, costumes and formal wear alone didn’t win him the title. That’s because Mr. Gay World isn’t merely a beauty pageant. The competition scored Raspado and 20 other competitors from five continents in 11 categories including a sports challenge, a written test, a personal interview and a social responsibility campaign.

Before he made history as the first Filipino and Southeast Asian man to win the Mr. Gay World 2017 title, John Raspado helped raise awareness about HIV testing and prevention among gay, bi and trans men through the Love Yourself Project. But since being crowned as the ninth Mr. Gay World, Raspado has used the international platform to serve as a gay ambassador, advancing LGBTQ human rights locally and throughout the world.

“Working with the Mr. Gay World organization has been a blast for me,” Raspado tells Hornet. Despite the organization being based in Australia, he says, “I was able to tap networks, groups, government agencies and non-government institutions as well. And with the help of social media, I was able to connect with different people in remote areas.”

After winning the title, Raspado served as an ambassador and special guest at several Pride events, including the Metro Manila Pride March in June, Kaohsiung Pride in Taiwan last November and the Filipino Quezon City Pride in December. He also served as an ambassador for Hong Kong’s bid to become the first-ever Asian city to host the Gay Games. Hong Kong won that bid and is gearing up to host the 11th Gay Games in 2022.

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