A SOUTH Shields dance teacher is jetting off to Italy to represent the UK and Europe at the Mr Gay World contest.
Stuart Hatton was picked by the contest organisers to stand up for not only the nation, but the entire continent.
The 28-year-old, co-principal at his family’s dance studio, the Hatton Academy of Dance, in Commercial Road, South Shields, was crowned Mr Gay UK last year, and just last month he came third in the Mr Gay Europe competition.
He said: “I was contacted the day after I returned from Mr Gay Europe by the people who organise Mr Gay World.
“It’s a different organisation altogether, and it chooses delegates to represent the different countries.
“They said they’d been really impressed with me at Europe, and I think it’s because, even though I didn’t win overall, I won the most individual challenges.
“There are people from 32 countries taking part, and some of the guys from Mr Gay Europe are going to be there too, and it’ll be so lovely to see them again.
“Winning would be absolutely amazing, but I can’t even get my head around the idea just yet. Being chosen to represent not only my country, but the whole of Europe is such a huge achievement, and I just can’t believe it’s happening.
“I’m just a boy from South Shields, and I’m just proud to represent my home town, but then I realise it’s also the country, and the whole of Europe. I just hope I can do everyone proud.”
The contest takes place in Rome from August 24 to September 1.
It will see Stuart compete in a series of challenges including an interview, being tested on gay rights and equality knowledge, a written test, modelling rounds including one in swimwear, and an art challenge, as well as an online vote.
Stuart added: “I think I’ve got a bit of a head start because I did Mr Gay Europe, so I kind of know what to expect.
“They test you on everything to make sure you’re the right person.
“If you win Mr Gay World, you become a representative for the whole of the lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender community, and that’s a very important role.”
To vote for Stuart in the online vote, go to www.mrgayworld.com/vote