New Mr Gay England crowned after wowing judges with ‘love letter to trans community’
A trio of queer winners were crowned in a kaleidoscopic pageant that boasted everything from a swimsuit round to charitable work.
On Saturday (August 20), The Alnwick Garden in Northumberland was transformed with queer culture as it hosted, for the second time, the finals of Mr Gay England, Mx Drag England, and the new addition of Mr Gay Europe.
Participants were judged in a catwalk and dance round, and were awarded points for charity campaigns and social projects. They were also subjected to a written exam testing their gay knowledge, and an audience vote.
The Duchess of Northumberland, Jane Percy, formed part of the judging panel, along with former ITV Tyne Tees news presenter Pam Royle, and BBC’s The Apprentice candidate, Katie Bulmer-Cooke.
David Allwood scooped the title of Mr Gay England 2022, while the former Mr Gay England, Paul Dennison, took home the title of Mr Gay Europe 2022, and Lavender Love was named Mx Drag England 2022.
Meet Mr Gay England 2022
David Allwood, 34, from Hertfordshire, has lived in London since he was 18 and currently lives in south west London with his partner Peter, who he has been married to for six years.
Allwood is a choreographer and during lockdown he launched production company Homoparody, which supports LGBTQ+ charities. He also performed on the London Pride main stage this year.
It was the launch of his company that inspired Allwood to enter the Mr Gay England pageant, after finding joy in doing community work.
He told PinkNews: “Mr Gay England is not like an old school beauty pageant, it’s more of a way of doing good for your community and a platform to let your voice be heard.
“For me it’s a way of letting marginalised voices be heard and I entered for that reason.”
The catwalk round of the competition features three categories: regional wear, beachwear and formalwear.
Allwood chose a “save our spaces” concept for his regional wear, wearing a dress by Olli Hull featuring the names of bars and clubs in London that have been closed down.
He wore a trans flag-coloured swimsuit for his beachwear entry as a “love letter to the community” and the friends he has in it.
He said to win the title of Mr Gay England 2022, following difficult times in the past, was “one of the most incredible experiences of [his] life”.
“I am so lucky and grateful that the hard work paid off. I was overwhelmed and in the run up to the competition even thinking about winning I would burst into tears.
“But it felt like the stars aligned.”
Allwood said he will use his platform “in so many ways”, with a focus on using his position “to combat loneliness within the LGBTQ+ community”, including in the older generation.
“A lot of people in the gay community feel loneliness much more and it’s more prevalent in our community,” he said.
“There are a lot of things in our community that make people feel separate or like they need to belong to a certain group of people.
“Belonging to a group is great, but when you feel like you don’t it can lead to feeling lonely.”
Allwood also hopes to see gay nursing homes rolled out across the UK, or dedicated spaces in retirement homes designed for the LGBTQ+ community. He also wants to spread “joy” through his work with Homoparody.
His highlights from the event were winning the written exam, which he said he studied hard for, and raising money for The Charlie and Carter Foundation and Pride Radio.
And he said he “really loved” doing the swimwear round, where he recalls “dancing around that runway”.
He jested: “I don’t know what came over me but I had the best time.”
Meet Mr Gay Europe 2022
Paul Dennison, from Banbury, was crowned Mr Gay Europe 2022 in a competition he told PinkNews isn’t a beauty pageant as such, but more “a competition like Drag Race where we have to come up with costumes and have to talk about the winning project we want to do”.
Dennison, who is a professional actor and has lived in London for 17 years, said the event was a “good cause” and “a lot of fun”.
He was “elated” to have won the title of Mr Gay Europe this year, following his win as Mr Gay England in 2021.
“When they called my name I was so happy and excited and it was lovely to see my friends and very supportive fiancé get so proud, and I’m happy I could make them proud.”
The 37-year-old said he will use his title to “do some good this year and be an ambassador for the LGBTQ+ community”.
This includes developing a drama-based Pride package for schools so he can teach about LGBTQ+ issues and anti-bullying.
Dennison hopes by telling kids “you’re perfect the way you are, you’re just discovering yourself” will prevent suicides in the community.
A highlight of the event for Dennison was the official dance exam, where he danced the cha-cha-cha and scored an impressive 97 out of 100.
Organiser, Hatton Jr, told PinkNews: “I think the chosen winners are going to be fantastic.
“We will be coming back to England in 2023 and if anybody wants to be a part of Mr Gay England, and to help raise funds for some fantastic charities, while having life changing experiences, do get in touch.”
More than 2,000 spectators watched the finals thanks to the event being broadcast live across 100 countries on LGBTQ+ media hub Pride World Media.
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