Irish contestant among finalists of Mr Gay Europe 2023

Nine delegates from nine different countries have found their way to the finals, and we're most excited about Ireland's contestant, Stephen Lehane.

mr gay Ireland poses in tux bodysuit and glasses
Image: Instagram @mrgayireland

Mr Gay Europe is back at the magnificent Alnwick Garden in Northumberland, England, and the contestants are preparing for the grand finale on Saturday, August 26.

Nine delegates from nine different countries have found their way to the finals, and we’re most excited about Ireland’s entry, 30-year-old Stephen Lehane, who settled into the Alnwick Castle on Sunday afternoon.

This will be the second time that Lehane is competing for the title, and five years later, he’s ready to win. Lehane said: “Having participated in Mr Gay Europe 2018, I’m aware of the fantastic opportunity that this is to meet with my community across Europe, and work together to find solutions for important issues.”

Professionally, Stephen works in early careers programmes where he supports candidates from diverse backgrounds in industries where they’re underrepresented. His hobbies include sewing and crafting, and he cares about the fashion industry’s environmental impact, so he likes to use 100% sustainably sourced materials like repurposed fabrics and scrap leather.



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A post shared by Lehane (@mrgayireland)

When asked about what the biggest challenge is for LGBTQ+ folk in Europe today, Lehane said it was the safety of trans people: “Figures are showing that verbal and physical abuse of trans people across Europe are on the rise, with 41% of trans people in Britain having experienced a hate crime or incident because of their gender identity. I feel strongly that LGB people are needed more than ever to be vocal allies in support of trans people.”

When asked about the biggest mental health challenge for the queer community, Lehane said: “I believe that one major challenge relating to the mental health of people within the LGBT community is alcohol and substance abuse.

“Without adequate tools or support to handle mental health struggles, we often see people within our community turn to alcohol or substance abuse as a form of coping, or escape. I think there is a huge opportunity within the LGBT community for us to sign-post healthier resources for coping with struggles with their mental health.”



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A post shared by Mr Gay Europe (@mrgayeurope)

After a two-year hiatus during the covid pandemic, Mr Gay Europe was back in a smaller setting in 2022. This year is the first time the contest is back to a full-scale event.

The 2023 pageant will focus on mental health. Delegates will attend mental health seminars as well as seminars on human rights issues, working with the media and even chocolate making.


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A post shared by Mr Gay Europe (@mrgayeurope)

Alongside competitors from Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Germany, Great Britain, The Netherlands, Norway and Spain, Lehane will take part in different challenges and tasks throughout the week.

Delegates will take part in personal interviews, a sports challenge, written exams, photo sessions and a team challenge. Contestants will even be invited to participate in a “broomstick tutorial” since Alnwick Castle is the location where Harry Potter scenes were filmed.



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A post shared by Mr Gay Europe (@mrgayeurope)

The nine participants will be judged on their personal interview, written test, and how well they complete each challenge. Additionally, 15% of the total score comes from the online vote. You can vote every day until Saturday, so there’s still time to support Ireland’s entry!

Whoever wins Mr Gay Europe is invited to be a spokesperson and role model for those who still cannot speak up or come out. They’re encouraged to use their platform as a tool to reach out to Europe’s LGBTQ+ community.

© 2023 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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