A SOUTH Tyneside dance teacher given the title of Mr Gay World is urging fellow borough residents to come together to try to end homophobia.
Stuart Hatton is about to launch an anti-bullying and homophobia campaign called So What?
The 28-year-old is hosting a mass photoshoot at his family’s dance studio, the Hatton Academy of Dance, in Commercial Road, South Shields, on Sunday to kick-start the initiative.
He’s inviting people of all ages and sexualities to show their support for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community by posing for pictures with the name of the campaign written on the palms of their hands and send them out on social media.
Stuart, named Mr Gay World in September, said: “As Mr Gay World, I’ve taken it upon myself to start off my So What? campaign.
“Basically all that is is telling the world that some of us have got green eyes, some of us have got blue eyes, some of us have got blond hair, some of us have got ginger hair, some of us are straight, some of us are gay – so what? Does it really matter nowadays? There’s so much hatred in the world out there that I think it’s come to a point now when we just need to shrug our shoulders and say ‘so what?’.”
He is hoping his idea will go global after his fellow Mr Gay World contestants start promoting it in their own countries.
Stuart, also a model, said: “We’re really good in the UK with our LGBT rights. We passed same-sex marriage in the UK on March 29, 2014, so hopefully the rest of the world will follow what the UK is doing, and they can see our So What? pictures online via social media in Iran, where, unfortunately, it means the death penalty, and in countries around the world where it’s actually illegal to be gay.
“If people are looking on Twitter or Facebook and can see that in the UK, it’s OK to be gay, it can just give someone that glimmer of hope and they can get involved in the So What? campaign in their country.”
To take part in the photoshoot, head to Hatton Academy of Dance after 11am on Sunday. The event runs until 2pm.
To show your support online, tweet a picture of yourself with ‘So What?’ written on the palm of your hand to @WeSaySoWhat using #SoWhat.