Thursday, 18 May 2023, 21:09
Mikel Iglesias Vigo is a 31-year-old from Vélez-Málaga who has made it to the grand finale of Mr Gay Great Britain 2023. He will be up against 11 other finalists at the event being held in Alnwick, Northumberland, on 26 August.
Mikel moved to London four years ago when he went to visit a friend who was already living there, for the latter’s birthday. “I took a bag for the weekend and ended up staying there,” he told SUR in English this week, following the announcement that he's made it through to the last stage of the beauty pageant for gay men and drag queens.
Like many young Europeans who move to the UK capital, Mikel first found work at a fast food chain and admits that he arrived in the UK “with zero English”. However, in the four years that he has been there Mikel has improved his level of the language quickly, so much so that he is now working as a receptionist in a hotel and studying health and social care at university, with a view to open his own aesthetics business, which he hopes to do in London.
He says he is “very happy” in London and that he decided to stay there as he “didn’t have a job” back home. “You know, it’s hard for young people to find a good job in Spain, so I decided to stay in London and build a life here,” he explained on the phone to SUR in English from his home in London.
Mikel is no stranger to the limelight, having been a finalist at Mr Gay Pride Spain in Malaga in 2017 and he also appeared on the Spanish version of the reality TV show, First Dates. He told SUR in English that he’s “passionate” about entering these types of competitions and that he has set himself a challenge to win one. “I have made it to the finals, but that’s where it ends,” he said.
Ahead of the finals, Mikel is coming to Vélez-Málaga for a week in June to catch up with his family and he says that the reunion following the news of his success in Mr Gay Great Britain is going to be great. “I have always had the support of my family and for me that the most important thing,” he said.
Mr Gay Great Britain is a beauty pageant for gay men and drag queens and was “set up as an antidote to the old nightclub beauty contests” according to the website. There are 12 finalists competing for the title and the winner will then go through to Mr Gay Europe. Mikel explained that he is the only Spanish person competing, but that there is also an Italian man, Fabrizio, going through to the finals.
As well as promoting people who represent the LGBT community, the organisation also supports charities. This year the chosen charities are The Charlie and Carter Foundation which provides financial support to families with terminally ill children or children with life limiting conditions in the UK, as well as Northumberland Pride which helps provide the LGBT community with mental health and wellbeing services.
Mikel said he likes the fact that there is a lot of charity work done in the UK and that events such as Mr Gay Great Britain “do a lot of work for charities. There is always a charity element in these events in the UK,” he said.
Mikel has set up a Go Fund Me page to raise funds for the Charlie and Carter foundation: www.gofundme.com/f/mikel-mr-gay-great-britain-2023-finalist.
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