Fil-Am finalist in US gay reality TV show

By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Posted at Feb 02 2012 03:24 PM | Updated as of Feb 02 2012 11:25 PM

JERSEY CITY, New Jersey -- A new reality TV show called "Mr. Gay World USA" is now in production in Jersey City, New Jersey.

This new breed of beauty pageant for gay men aims to make the world a better place for all members of the LGBT community.

Among the 12 finalists is 34-year-old Filipino Bernabe "Burnz" Fernandez, who was born and raised in Subic Bay, Philippines. He now represents Mr. Gay World San Diego, California.

The San Diego-based professor and surgeon's assistant said winning this competition would give him a platform to push for his advocacies on international TV.

"We should be given the same chance, we should be given the same rights as everyone else. As far as gay marriage is concerned, we're not here to change the sanctity of marriage, we just want to be able to marry whoever we want," Fernandez said.

Mr. Gay World contestants have to compete in photo, fashion runway and swimsuit challenges. They also have to showcase their public-speaking ability during the Great Gay Debate.

Mr. Gay World founder Jarl Haugedal explained that being an idol would not just mean being good-looking or having nice abs but also "having some knowledge about what's going on right now in the US."

"Whoever goes on to win will be a wonderful voice and spokesperson for the next generation of gay Americans, especially as we head into an election year when so much at stake for the community," Mr. Gay World host Jon Lovitz said.

This reality TV show aims to change people's opinions about gay men.

"With the Stonewall riot, the gay pride, the bullying and teen suicides and what not, there's still a lot more work to do," Fernandez said.

The winner of Mr. Gay World USA will compete in the Mr. Gay World in Johannesburg, South Africa in April.