Oh yes, this is Giulio from back then! Giulio, Baz from Ireland and Christo from Sweden posing it to the max and having fun with the photographer during the swimwear photo session in Mr Gay Europe 2011.

MGE Vice President Giulio Spatola was once a delegate himself; in this article he gives away some friendly advice for the newcomers.

Hello everybody!

Mr Gay Europe is just around the corner, and after that, many of you are going to go on to Mr Gay World. Do you really know what MGE stands for? Do you know our policies, values and rules?

Mr Gay Europe is all about unity thru diversity. We want you to be you. But along the way and during the competition it might be a good thing to listen to someone who “has been there”. Sometimes it is not easy to have a total overview, so as a friendly gesture to you all – here is some advice that might come in handy in your run for Mr Gay Europe 2013.

When you meet journalists or others that ask your opinion, take your time; let your brain work before you open your mouth. Be polite, use your charm, be yourself, but always remember that what you say is important for someone out there.

During the year as the title-holder – in case you win, sorry, when you win – you will get the attention from the media and a lot of other people. Be open and welcoming to everyone, and try to answer their questions as good as you can. But if you don’t know the answer or what to say it is totally fair to say just that. One phrase that can be useful in this case is “Can I get back to you on that, I don’t have an answer right now.” AND – whatever you do – GET BACK to the person you promised to contact!

It’s really important to remember that you as a title-holder are representing all the young gay men of Europe. People love gossip and quite a few out there will be looking for juicy “news” about you on the internet, among your friends, and just about anywhere they can think of. It is a good rule to be personal, but not private with every Tom, Dick and Harry.

Make sure that all your information is under control before leaving for the competition. Stop publishing everything in public and start to use the privacy settings. This may seems too much but, believe me, this will save you from many unpleasant surprises. Regarding friendship requests, I suggest you create a fan-page – we will talk about it when we meet – where you can refer people you don’t want to add to your personal profile. About messages, it would be nice and polite to answer everyone if you are able to. It’s incredible how many people you can help by just giving them the attention they need or someone they can talk to. People will love you for just being there.

It’s a good to have a lot of friends supporting you, and sometimes you might want to bring with you one of them as good company. Just remember that – in case someone is attacking you by speaking or writing bad things about you – no one, not even your best friend, should reply on your behalf. Please, for your and your friendships’ sake, make sure your friends are aware of this. It is mine and the President’s job to defend you, and you are in good hands.

If you have one – if two, good for you – trust me; prepare yourself and him too. Getting the attention from young gay guys from all over Europe is nice, but are you sure your boyfriend feel the same?
Jealousy and misunderstandings will be the enemies of your relationship. If you are in love with your boy, I suggest you to keep him involved in your new experiences. Be more patient than ever, and never let him feel like he’s your second choice: he’s not. Look at him as a good opportunity to spread your message of love to the others. He will be proud of you and happy for your new title. Moreover, and this is something I really feel as a personal mission, you both could always count on my advices and my help if you ask for it. MGE will never be a reason for the end of a love.

Just like your boyfriend, your parents and relatives are very important on your path of becoming Mr Gay Europe. As a role-model for all young gay men of Europe, at first, your mission is to spread a message of visibility, and to be an example of courage for all those who haven’t come out yet. Involving your family in this – if they agree, of course – would make your message stronger. Moreover, being part of MGE means being part of a big family. I challenge you to take on the task as a leader for all delegates, work with them, together you will be able to form a great team.

The title-holder is to represent a big part of the European LGBT community, but it could happen that someone will tell you “I don’t feel represented by you” or “I don’t need you”. Well, don’t let that upset you – it’s completely normal. No one, even the greatest king or politician, will ever get the full endorsement from everyone. Knowing that, go on with your work and focus on what you think is important. Most of the time this kind of feedback is just envy from people wanting to be you or to be in your position – and you should be happy for that. Some of them will write rude comments on your blog or on Facebook: you never reply to those. Anger will get to you at times, but remember points 1 and 4 of this list and let the President and I do our job.

This is about the impression of you and the image of the title you give out. According to point 3, privacy and common sense are both a must when it comes to MGE. Of course, everyone is free to represent themselves as they prefer, but as Mr Gay, you are called to some responsibility. For example, during the whole period of your assignment as Mr Gay the use of illegal drugs or taking part in any pornographic activity is not allowed. It is actually strictly prohibited. If you have been involved in things like this in the past, please tell us. Everyone makes mistakes, we are not the moral police, but we need to know.
I heartily recommend each of you to take care of your outside, though, a nice body is nothing without a working brain, and we aim to show people that being Mr Gay means something more; you’re not a politician, and you’re not a queen, but you are a role-model for good behaviour for everyone and an icon of a sober and proud gay visibility.

This is the final point and probably the most important one. Sometimes things might escape your control and you might feel like your title is something more than it actually is. This could happen if you let it take over your life. Always remember to keep separated the two things: it’s you who wear the title, not the title who wears you. This is the reason that each title-holder is unique and different from the previous ones. So, my last and heartfelt advice is: Never forget who you are.