South Shields funeral director hoping to crowned Mr Gay GB

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Stephen Corpe will be raising funds for the Charlie and Carter Foundation and Pride Action North as part of the competition.

A South Shields funeral director has his sights set on becoming the next Mr Gay Great Britain, which is a national pageant for gay men. 

53-year-old Stephen Corpe who runs family business Manor House Funerals in both South Shields and Sunderland, has reached the finals stage of the prestigious competition, which will see him participate in various challenges in front of a star-studded judging panel. 

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Stephen has enjoyed watching the Mr Gay GB finals (which is held at Alnwick Gardens), for the last three years, but finally had the courage to apply himself for the 2024 competition.

Stephen said: “A friend said ‘you should do that’, and said that I would be a great Mr Gay GB both as a role model and to stand up for the gay community.

“I’m going to turn 54-years-old on the day of the final, so I thought let’s give it a go!”

Stephen’s family and friends have been really supportive of his decision to apply, and he is now set to compete in the grand final on Monday, August 26 at Alnwick Gardens. 

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On what it would mean for Stephen to win, he said: “I’m not in the competition for fame or personal benefit. I come from the generation who went through Section 28 and the AIDS epidemic. I was involved behind the scenes advising the government on the Equality and Diversity Agenda, which was really about fairness for all. 

“But now I've reached a stage in my life where I can make a real difference. I have been part of the establishment, I know how things work, so who better to challenge things and change it. 

“Our community faces massive issues around bullying, mental health, young suicide, body shaming, ageism, social media pressure, domestic abuse, the list goes on. 

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“Also the transgender community is having a really difficult time at the moment, they are going through what the gay community went through 30 years ago, so who better to stand with them and support them. 

“Winning this competition will give me a real voice and a national platform to do good for our community. We don't want special treatment, we just want fair treatment.”

This year, South Tyneside will be hosting their first-ever Pride celebrations in June. Stephen commented: “For me the meaning of Pride is threefold. Looking back, we remember all those who went before us fighting for the rights we enjoy today. 

“For now, standing together, loud and proud, showing those struggling or just coming to terms with their gender or sexuality, that it is ok to be different and we're here for you. 

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Looking forward, there is still so much to be done, both at home protecting our own rights, supporting our youth and transgender community and all the issues we still face. Whilst abroad, fighting for those who don't have the same rights that we enjoy, yet!”

L:R Stuart Hatton Jr (former Mr Gay World from South Shields), with Stephen Corpe.L:R Stuart Hatton Jr (former Mr Gay World from South Shields), with Stephen Corpe.
L:R Stuart Hatton Jr (former Mr Gay World from South Shields), with Stephen Corpe. | Stephen Corpe

As part of the competition, Stephen has been fundraising for two local charities close to his heart, the Charlie and Carter Foundation and Pride Action North. 

Stephen will be climbing mountains; Snowdon, The Cheviot and Ben Lomond in order to raise money for the charities, taking part in a sponsored flight over Northumberland in a vintage Tiger Moth aeroplane, as well as a number of other local fundraising events. To donate, please visit Stephen’s GoFundMe page.

Stephen explained: “I signed up to climb Mt Snowdon for the Charlie and Carter Foundation based in South Shields and two of my team Joe Lannin and Danny Boyes are doing it with me. 

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“But that's not enough, we are also raising funds for Pride Action North, so I’ve super-sized it into a three peaks challenge across three countries reflecting the "Great Britain" scope of the Mr Gay GB competition. I'm climbing The Cheviot for England, Ben Lomond for Scotland and Mt Snowdon for Wales.

“I am also going to be doing a charity flight over Northumberland in a vintage Gypsy Moth bi-plane and have a full programme of social events planned including a charity dinner in South Tyneside which I hope local businesses will support.”

Local businesses wishing to support Stephen’s fundraising, can contact him at [email protected].

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