The most important reason why I took part in the founding of Mr Gay Europe 12 years ago was because I felt that the young gay kids around Europe did not have any role models to look up to, there was really not anyone out there who could give the boys and girls any hope that it was going to be better.

Living in Norway I had it reasonably easy growing up as a gay kid. But I also experienced the darker side of things; I did meet “the exploiter”, you know, the grown-up man in the swimming hall who took advantage of the fact that even if I was a boy aged 12, I found men interesting. And the first time I met a guy out at a club; what happened that night was not very romantic nor was it nice, I was told it was “supposed to hurt”.

On the other side I was really lucky, living out in the Norwegian countryside, I met my first love in high school. It was a public secret, me and the other guy would hang out all the time, and tacitly the local community let us have the time of puppy love and excitement.

When I later joined the army one of the guys tried to bully me. I pushed him against the wall and told him that the people most hostile to gays are the gayest of us all. That gave me respect and the rest of the conscription went really smooth.

Later, at work a colleague tried to pressure me into doing things her way after she found out I was gay. I dragged her into our boss’ office and asked him if this was acceptable, she later left her position.

Living and working in countries like Norway, Sweden and The Netherlands is much easier for gay people than some other places in Europe. That is why we continue to arrange the competition; to allow gays from different parts of Europe come forward and show that it is ok to be gay.

The Norwegian broadcasting company NRK has in the last couple of years produced a TV-series aimed at young people, the series is called Skam (Shame), and tells the stories of kids at a high school in Oslo. In season 3, the main character is a gay boy, Isak. It’s all about his coming out and how he deals with the fact that he gets a boyfriend.

I want to share one of the scenes from the series with you today, please go to the link below and get that feel-good feeling. Keep in mind that this has been the most watched TV-series in Norway, seen by kids, teenagers and adults. Love is never easy, but never has gay love been portrayed more honest, real and beautiful – it’s like, yes this is exactly how it is.

Watch the clip from “Skam” hereSkam – Helga Natt – NRK

From all of us at Mr Gay Europe I wish you all a happy and proud Christmas.

– Tore