A SOUTH Shields dance teacher has been named Mr Gay UK.
Stuart Hatton is the first North East man to win the title – and he couldn’t be happier.
The 28-year-old is co-principal at his family dance studios, The Hatton Academy of Dance, in Commercial Road, South Shields.
Stuart, who also works as an underwear model, won the title at the Mr Gay UK finals in Leeds on Saturday night.
He was one of 240 men who initially entered the competition.
He explained: “The first round was digital, and everyone who entered had to post pictures and write a little about themselves, and whoever got the most tweets and likes won.”
Stuart came third at that stage, and progressed to the final, which saw him as one of 10 contestants who took to the catwalk in front of a panel of judges.
Competitors also had to tell judges about themselves, before taking part in an underwear round.
At the end of the night, Stuart was presented with a sash and a trophy, which now take pride of place in his dance academy’s reception area.
He said: “It feels absolutely tremendous – especially to bring the title to the North East.
“I’m really proud of the achievement, and proud to do it for the North East as well.”
He said: “Winning was a goal that I had. I set myself a goal with my personal trainer, Grant Henson.
“I wanted to get my body in shape so we decided a goal like this would help.
“It was a personal goal really, and it’s turned into quite a personal achievement, so I’m chuffed.
“I think all the lads were hopeful that they would win, and I was very nervous.
“I’m not a nervous person normally. Being a dancer, I’m used to getting on stage and performing and strutting my stuff in front of a crowd.
“But this was a little bit different because I was being judged as a person as opposed to for a performance, so the butterflies were definitely there.”
Next year, Stuart will represent the UK at Mr Gay Europe in Vienna, and if things go well, he’ll be heading to Mr Gay World.
He added: “I’m definitely hoping to go all the way. I’m a very competitive person so I will be going for it.
“It would be amazing to be Mr Gay World.
“It feels really good to be a representative of the gay community within South Shields.
“Hopefully, I can be a good representative for those guys, not only in South Shields and the North East, but the UK as well.
“Last year’s winner was judging it this year, so hopefully next year, I’ll be able to go back as a judge and pick another good representative.”
Attitudes towards sexuality were put in the national media spotlight this week when Olympic diver Tom Daley came out.
The bronze medallist posted a video on YouTube telling the world that he was in a relationship with another man. The revelation was met by huge media attention.
Stuart said: “I think he did it very wisely, he did it of his own accord and it was his choice.
“It wasn’t through a newspaper or any other medium – he did it the way he wanted.
“I just think that it’s a shame that he had to come out nowadays.
“You don’t have to come out as a heterosexual – people just assume you are heterosexual.
“It’s a bit odd that people still need to come out, but well done to him for doing it.”