MR GAY EUROPE
It’s important to understand what the Mr Gay Europe competition is.
First, it’s not a beauty pageant – I’m 39 for heaven’s sake. Not that a 39-year-old can’t be beautiful, but there’s more to life than parading around in my swimming trunks (I confess to enjoy doing that too).
The goal for the Mr Gay Europe is "to package the fight and work for human and gay rights with a positive, happy and entertaining event."
What I love about the competition is that guys from all over Europe come together to share their experiences and challenges and to work together on team projects. It’s an opportunity for us to all learn from each other and to support each other. We are stronger together and can break down barriers and push the buttons that need to be pressed.
The actual Mr Gay Europe competition takes place in Stockholm from 1-6 August 2017. I’ve never been there but I’m obsessed with all things Scandi, a huge ABBA fan (I worked at Mamma Mia!) and Nordic noir TV so I’m very excited about going.
During that week, all the Mr Gays have to undertake written tests (e.g. on LGBTIQ+ issues around the world), perform group tasks (I think a bit like Challenge Anneka!!), face rigorous interviews and perform a fitness test. Last year they had to run up and down a Norwegian mountain – twice! Eeek.
Mr Gay Scotland is a label given to me by the #MrGayEurope competition and I feel it comes with a responsibility to be a voice and a role model.
I have my own campaign OWN IT but as there are so many great people doing brilliant things at a local level in Scotland and beyond, if I can lend them my platform and voice, raise awareness and help support and promote their causes in any way then that's good and positive and I'll have made a difference - however small. But I don't want to think small. We need to think big.
I'm just one of thousands of Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms/Mx Gay Scotlands and we are ALL and live as Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms/Mx Gay Scotland every single day of our lives. We should all stand up for who we are, what we believe in and stand up against all bullying and homophobia.
That’s why I’m keen to speak to LGBTQ+ people and allies from all walks of life and share their stories
Why should people vote for me?
I don’t pretend that I have all the right answers and I make mistakes, but I think I’m a pretty good role model. I’m now of the age that I understand that so much of what happens in the world is out of our control, but what we can control is how we respond to the world.
As a lawyer, I can debate and argue a case, but the legal training allows me to see and try to understand where the other person is coming from. This 360-degree view allows me to make a stronger and more thoughtful case and to persuade the other side to come to my point of view or to at least compromise with compassion and understanding.
Having trained as an actor, this gives me a good understanding of people, their emotions and the ability to empathise. I’m also used to being on stage in front of small groups but also thousands of people.
Crucially I have experience in campaigning, a lot of which I have gained over the past seven years of singing with the LGMC. Whether that’s protesting outside the Russian embassy, singing for Dolly Parton on the BBC or outside the House of Lords for Equal Marriage, singing for the Prime Minister in No 10 at an event against homophobia in Sport, performing at corporate or charity events or running a singing workshop to kids with learning difficulties. I am used to dealing and working with people from all walks of life; from Prime Ministers, Lords and Ladies, politicians and celebrities, to children and their parents including people who may or may not have met a gay person before (or known they have).
I’m also just a friendly guy and believe that we should all do our best and look out for each other. I’m actually helping one guy who works near where I live and he’s unable to come out because of his family’s religious beliefs – he’s genuinely in fear for his life. We meet for coffee when he can, and I give him support, friendship and kindness.
Even if I don’t win the competition, if I can help make just one person’s life or experience better then this will have been worth it.