Twenty one year old Steven Baitson from Dublin 13 made ‘history’ this weekend when he was selected as Mr Gay Ireland 2012.

Steven emerged from a four month long competition, with over 150 entries throughout the Island of Ireland to claim the crown before Judges Glenda Gilsen, Bairbre Power, Micheal Doyle, Abdul Ibraimoh and Executive Producer Brian Merriman.

Steven from Ayrfield, Dublin13 represented a ‘straight venue’ Wrights in Swords in the event, where he works as a host. His outgoing personality won over judges and audience as he spoke about identity to a crowded Arlington Hotel, O Connell Bridge. Steven said everyone should mix together in Ireland and that all venues must be welcoming to people and their partners regardless of their sexual orientation. As part of his work with Mr Gay Ireland Steven raised funds for St James Hospital HIV New Fill project in the Wright venue and visited schools to address young people on the positive gay identity.

The 18 finalists raised 10,700 euros to support the facial muscle restoration service at St James for people suffering side effects from HIV treatment. Doctors from the service addressed the contestants during the weekend and acted as a judge in the crucial interview round.

Mr Gay Ireland is the only ‘all-Island’ gay commnity event which saw 23 heats being held nationwide. Twenty year old Derry born Daniel Hegarty won the title Mr Gay Northern Ireland. Daniel is the youngest ever title holder in the 7 years of the conmpetition. A sportsman Daniel likes gym and outdoor sports and will represent Northern Ireland in Mr Gay Europe in Rome next August.

Other pizewinners included Emmet Barret a young deaf man represented the Front Lounge in Dublin – the first ever deaf finalist selected by his fellow contestants as Mr Congenialty, Adrian Kiely, first runner up and the winner of the webvote, represented Loafers in Cork. Chambers Bar Cork representatives won the Best Fundraisers, Andy Guerin Mr Gay Galway won Best Interview, with rugby player Simon Murphy Mr Emerald Warriors coming 3rd and earning the title Mr Gay Dublin.

Executive Producer Brian Merriman stated “These  18 young men have done so much to raise positive gay visibility in rural towns across the Island and to promote safe sex and raise badly needed funds for HIV. We applaud their efforts to be role models for their own communities and fo younger people. The fact that our youngest ever winners have been selected this year is very important in achieving our aim of reaffirming the status and self esteem of young gay people and in promoting understanding of HIV”.
Other contestants represented  groups, websites and venues from Wexford, Limerick, Galway, Cork, Belfast, Westmeath, Kildare, Strabane, South Tipperary, and Waterford. The photograph shows Steven Baitson (left), Glenda Gilsen (judge) and Daniel Hegarty.

Photo: Fotacol Press and PR (Newry)