Bent Column - Nerves and elation

Well here goes . . . First off I would like to thank everyone for the support, without which I don’t think I would be Mr. Gay UK this year. I would like to say a huge thank you to ITP leisure, especially Philip Holmes, for helping me promote myself throughout the venues around Blackpool since May. 

I have spoken to Mark Cater and received some great advice and tips on how to do the new job, and I have taken on board a lot of it because of the great achievements that he has accomplished in the past year. I’m sure, and hope, that’s not the last we hear from him and trust everyone continues to give him the much-deserved support that he has had over the past twelve months. 

What a roller-coaster these last four months have been, from leading up to the heats to the present! I will admit now that I really wanted to win the heat in Flamingo Blackpool in May, but did not consider at that point I would win the final. The night of the heat I was really nervous; I knew a lot of people there and there were many really good-looking contestants. I thought it was amazing just winning the heat and having my first ever photo shoot back stage in just my boxers. 

The day of the final I met all the competition. That’s when my heart sank because I had only seen pictures of the other guys online. Everybody was good looking, and all had great personalities, I did think at one point that any one of these guys would do a great job of being Mr. Gay UK. 

The final was full of highs and lows, just a mix of emotions throughout the night. I was so excited, and even more nervous but everyone was in high spirits and we tried to keep the nerves at bay. The baby oil was flowing all evening and I’m sure one or two of you would have been in your element if you’d been in that dressing room. 

While we merry band of 20-odd contestants were whittled down to the final three my heart was in my mouth most of the time and the nerves had got to my legs… I could hardly move. So when my name was called… I just stood there emotionless for a few seconds, not realising that I had just won the title, then pandemonium broke out all around me. Confetti cannons going off, music playing and the entire crowd seemed to be cheering… for me. I can tell you, when feeling returned, I was absolutely elated. 

So there you go: a short summary of what my life has been like for the past four months. I have done a lot in just these past few weeks, with the Saturday Radio 2 show with Russell Brand and supporting the British Heart Foundation with a charity walk in Blackpool. Best of all so far, was jetting off to Morocco to do a photo shoot�"and what an experience! But I must say what a beautiful place Morocco is. More than anything, I think it was the culture shock that scared me, due to the fact that gay people are not really recognised over there, and being photographed on the beach naked, in front of other men, was a little worrying. When you’re there, you think how lucky we are in the UK. In some parts of the world, gay people are still being hanged for just doing things in the privacy of their own homes. 
With the title this year, I would like to use it to help as many charities as I can and review the gay scene as a whole and in individual places. This will not be to give advice but just to give an opinion, because everyone is different, but an opinion you can possibly take… or leave. Being Mr. Gay UK is not just about being a face in a paper or a magazine, but bringing the gay community together. Also listening to what you have to say about gay life by contacting me by letter (addressed to Bent) or via my website. 

I’ve been out and about meeting people in bars and clubs and I have to thank everyone for the friendly and fantastic reception you’ve all given me. So thanks again for all your support, and remember to be nice to each other. 

Best wishes, 

Daniel Broughton