Mr Gay Ireland Talks About His Journey

Guilherme Souza has been in Ireland since 2014, since winning the crown of Mr Gay Ireland his life changed completely.

Mr Gay Ireland 2018

Guilherme, or Guill to those who know him, is a 25 year-old originally from Sao Paulo, Brazil. In Ireland since 2014, Guill was crowned Mr Gay Ireland 2018 back in June and his life has completely changed since. During an interview with our Mr Gay Ireland, he tells us what he has been doing during the past six months of his reign.

“It was something that I’ve never thought that could be possible since I am not Irish (can you notice?), but surprisingly the fact that I am foreign was never an obstacle. There was a Canadian and another Brazilian Mrs Gay Ireland before me, which is amazing, in fact, Ireland was also the first Mr/Miss competition to have a transgender contestant a few years ago. It just shows how the LGBT+ community in Ireland is open-minded and welcoming to everyone.”

Guill continued, “I used to work in a famous nightclub in Swords as a host, they asked me to join the competition for Mr Gay Ireland representing them, one of the tasks in the competition was to fundraise money for St James hospital, for the HIV division.

“The nightclub supported my idea of doing shots for charity, they posted on social media saying that I would be in the club that night fundraising. It was an unforgettable experience, a mix of people asking to take pics and getting shots, or both at the same time. I came back home that night with 700 euros in coins and tears in my eyes, it was one of the best feelings I’ve ever felt.”

“I did not win the title of Mr Gay Ireland that night, I was the first runner-up. To my surprise, the winner gave up his duties only three weeks before the Mr Gay Europe competition started. Girl… I had to RUN to get everything ready for it, clothes, project, online votes, it was so much to do with such short notice, but if it didn’t have the Latin drama, it wouldn’t be my story.

“In August, I went to Poland for the Mr Gay Europe competition, which took place in Warsaw and Poznan. Let’s say that we had many surprises, first of all, it was in Poland- we all know that it isn’t an LGBT+ friendly country, but we knew that by representing our community, we could make a strong statement and hopefully help to change their community for better.

“We opened the pride parade in Poznan. I believe that I’ve never felt so scared before (and I am Brazilian, hun), a group of hundreds of people wearing grey were protesting against our community – one of those religious groups that call us paedophiles but do not look inside their own churches. There was a risk of someone being violent against us, I was told to remove my Mr Gay sash to avoid being targeted, but the sash was the least of my problems, I was wearing a tank-top with the message “WE ARE ONE” in rainbow colours and also a rainbow shorts. I could not hide, if something bad happened there, it would happen with me and that was not a nice feeling.

“After a lot of adrenaline, sticks and stones (literally) we made it to the end, everyone safe, happy for being there and helping to make a statement of acceptance and equality. I can still remember the crowd, from one side all the ones wearing grey, a strong line of police dividing them from the other side, which was the colourful one of our community. We made worldwide news that day.

“The Mr Gay Europe competition itself is very demanding (and not very transparent, cough, cough) it has many different challenges, a project involving the LGBT+ community in Europe, which I had the opportunity to talk about my story with sexual abuse, mental health and confidence. That changed me a lot, facing my own demons and speaking up about it in front of so many people, I was nervous at first, but after I finished my project called ‘Its Okay’ I realised why I was doing it – so many people came to me to share their stories, on social media and in person. It was another priceless feeling, to be able to connect to other people by mutual traumatic experiences, it happens so often and there are not many talking about it.

“The other challenges were a photo shoot, sports challenge, social media, LGBT+ history exam- a complete marathon. I had the opportunity to meet so many amazing people, some super engaged within their communities, others not so much (the shade), but overall it was a life experience that I will always remember with a smile on my face.”

“Since then, I have been trying to give back to the world as much as possible, I had the opportunity to join a group of volunteers for a ‘Strictly Dance’ show to fundraise for Pieta House, I’ve never danced in front of so many people before! Weeks of rehearsals, sweat, pain, but we finally made it, over 12k fundraised to the charity and a great show altogether.

“Right now I am focused on finishing college, it is my final year so the pressure is real, and is already here! I have other projects coming up, which I cannot say much right now but you will soon find out. What is next? I have no idea, but I cannot wait.

“By representing Ireland, a country that received me so well, gave me so many opportunities to evolve, in many ways, professionally, economically, emotionally and most importantly as a person, it was a major honour. I might have not been born here, but my heart it has been always green.

“Become Mr Gay Ireland 2018 opened my eyes about our community. I would say that it is an intense training to become an activist. I’ve learned so much about things that are extremely important, but since it was not related to me I would not raise my voice about it. I’ve realised that you don’t need to have HIV to fight for the rights of those who do, you don’t need to be trans to fight for trans rights, you don’t need to be anything to help other people to have a safer and equal environment to live in. That’s called empathy. If we used it more often I am sure that we could avoid so many tragedies to happen. My community supported me in every single way, I am very thankful for that, it made me a better version of myself, and that’s something that no one can take away from me.

“I’m still living my fantasy…

“If I could talk to the Guill who came to this country alone, four years ago, with no English at all and new to a completely different culture, what he would do and experience, it would sound like a fairy tale mixed with a latin telenovela (loads of drama) and drag race (the shade), but I would not change one single thing! Thank you Ireland for making me feel like I’m home. Cheers.”

© 2018 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

Support GCN

GCN has been a vital, free-of-charge information service for Ireland’s LGBTQ+ community since 1988.

During this global COVID pandemic, we like many other organisations have been impacted greatly in the way we can do business and produce. This means a temporary pause to our print publication and live events and so now more than ever we need your help to continue providing this community resource digitally.

GCN is a registered charity with a not-for-profit business model and we need your support. If you value having an independent LGBTQ+ media in Ireland, you can help from as little as €1.99 per month. Support Ireland’s free, independent LGBTQ+ media.

0 comments. Please sign in to comment.