Inspired by his first ever pride parade, Belgium’s delegate in the Mr. Gay Europe competition is now motivated to improve the acceptance of gays in the workplace leading into this weekend’s finale.
Jaimie Deblieck, 18, from the western Belgium city of Roeselare, was crowned Mr. Gay Belgium after an exhaustive search that involved 146 contestants down to 12 finalists across a four month period.
This week he competes against 12 other European finalists and hopes his individuality and passion for the cause will help him take the title.
“My first Pride was in 2014 in Brussels and I was there with some friends,” Jaimie explained to Eikon.
“We saw a ‘Mister Gay Flanders’ truck and my friends told me to sign up for next year (2015) but I said them it wasn’t something for me. I thought that the competition was all about beauty so I didn’t.
“A few years later the Pride in 2016, I saw that ‘Mister Gay Flanders’ changed into ‘Mister Gay Belgium’ and I also saw that the competition was grown.
“And some friends told me again to sign up, so I did some research about Mister Gay Belgium and I’ve read that Mister Gay Belgium was a competition that was looking for an ambassador for the LGBTQI+ community.
“I also thought and think that there is still a lot to do to have that LGBQI+ community which we are all fighting for. So, I signed up.”
Jaimie works as a qualified gardener but has been on the receiving end of some terrible homophobic reactions in his few years as part of the workforce.
“As a graduated gardener, I’ve had many internships. Unfortunately, not all my colleagues liked that I was gay.
“They’ve told me to choose another job, like hairdresser because I was not man enough to do a job in this industry.”
Jaimie decided that it was important to use his own work experience to build his LGBTIQ+ campaign for the Mr. Gay Europe competition.
Following in the footsteps of Raf Van Puymbroeck is a tough task as Raf won both Mr. Gay Belgium and Mr. Gay Europe in 2016.
But Jaimie, who has autism, wants to use this experience to find out more about himself and the LGBTQI+ community.
“I’m mostly excited about meeting new people and to spread my message, my story to whole Europe.
“And I’m also curious to hear the stories of the other Misters and listen to how they would like to change the LGBTQI+ community.”
Jaimie may have the Mr. Gay Europetitle in his sights, but he would also love to explore other parts of the world, including down under.
“I have never been outside of Europe. But Australia is on my list of ‘places to travel’.
“I would love to explore the nature there. They have more than 1 million different plant species which is A LOT!”
You can vote for Jaimie in the Mr. Gay Europe competition here.