Melbourne man Rad Mitic has been crowned Mr Gay Pride Australia 2019 at Daylesford’s ChillOut Festival at the weekend.
The 36-year-old Melbourne man won the annual competition, beating runners-up Liam Davies from New South Wales and fellow Victorian Prashant Bhatia.
The competition’s participants competed in seven social media and face-to-face challenges, including interviews in front of a judging panel that featured reigning Mr Gay World, Australian man Jordan Bruno.
Mitic will now head to Cape Town, South Africa to represent Australia at the Mr Gay World competition next month.
Speaking on stage at the ChillOut Festival’s Carnival on Sunday, Mitic said the issue of suicide prevention was one close to him and dedicated his win to friends who had passed away.
“I’m overwhelmed with emotion. This wasn’t just about me, it’s about all my friends that have taken their lives and I really wanted to stand up and make a difference,” Mitic said.
“I’m not that person to sit back and just let it happen to more people.
“I lost a friend just two weeks ago, she was only 24 years old. It’s very, very close to my heart and I want to make a difference.
“The community has always been my family so I feel like I’ve always had to step up and be tough and speak up against online bullying and the racism in our community.
“There’s so many important issues and we’ve got so many incredible people that I’ve been working with over the last couple of days.
“I’m just excited to be able to use this platform to actually raise more awareness. I’m so grateful, it means the absolute world to me.
“My message is we need to be kinder to each other, we need to stop judging, stop making assumptions about each other and just embrace each other.
“We all have differences, we all have different opinions and no one is right or wrong. We just need to embrace each other and love each other.”
Mitic will represent Australia at the Mr Gay World competition, held from April 28 to May 4.
Jordan Bruno’s win at Mr Gay World last year was the first time an Australian contestant has won the competition.
The contest’s stated goal is to find a spokesperson who will push for global equality for LGBTIQ people.
“[I have] a big responsibility now to represent Australia and especially taking after Jordan,” Mitic said.
“I’m going to do my best and continue to work with everybody and hopefully make everyone proud.”
If you need someone to talk to, help is available from QLife on 1800 184 527 or online at QLife.org.au, Lifeline on 13 11 14, or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.