R.I.P.

Former Mr. Gay World Charl Van Den Berg Has Died, Praised For Activism

CharlVanDenBergjpgThere’s some very sad news out of South Africa today with word that Charl van den Berg has lost his battle with lymphatic cancer at age 33. He won the world crown in 2010 after being being named the South African Mr Gay King in his native country in 2009.

The following statement was posted on the Mr. Gay World site:

It is with deep sorrow that we learned of the passing of one of the prominent members of the Mr. Gay World family, Charl van den Berg, Mr. Gay World 2010 from South Africa who lost his mercifully short battle with lymphatic cancer.

It is with fond memories that we remember when Charl stepped off the bus in Oslo, Norway for the first time and one of the Directors remarked: ‘That is one to watch’. And indeed he was, continuing to make an impression on his fellow delegates, the judges and the audience, winning Mr. Gay World 2010 against stiff competition from Australia and Hong Kong in style.

Throughout his reign, Charl continued to uphold the ethos and message of Mr. Gay World wherever he travelled, making friends around the world. He attended Prides in Europe, representing the organisation and was sent to the Philippines to lay the foundations of the next competition in Manila, meeting with press and organisers. He was prominently featured in the media, and did many interviews for television, living up to his role as ambassador for LGBT rights and a role model for LGBT youth.

He was loved not only in the Philippines, taking part in the Red Ribbon HIV-awareness campaign in that country, but all around the world and especially in his home country of South Africa, where his win was the first positive LGBT news other than legal challenges to discriminatory laws to be featured on the front pages and lamp posts around that country.

Charl always conducted himself in a friendly, approachable and exemplary fashion, keeping his feet firmly on the ground and doing the job he was chosen for without airs and graces. His infectious laughter and warm character made him an absolute pleasure to work with. He stayed on to assist and support the organisation long after his reign, attending subsequent finals in Johannesburg and Antwerp and being involved in the local Mr. Gay South Africa competition up to 2014.

On the night that he handed his Mr Gay World crown to his successor in Manila in 2011, there was not a dry eye in the house when he serenaded the audience with a farewell song.

We have lost a member of our family, a hero and a friend. Charl van den Berg will always be an icon to many around the world.

You will always be in our hearts. Go well friend.

Watch a 2011 interview with van den Berg below.