Representing his native Leitrim, local barber Declan Donohoe was recently named runner up in the 2014 Mr Gay Ireland competition.
Having entered the competition at the end of summer, Declan was chosen as Mr Gay Leitrim, before being told that he would then progress to the national final.
Just a few days after his win, Declan, who is a committee member of Longford LGBT, received his first engagement as Mr Gay Leitrim - to host the Sligo heat of the competition. Declan was also later asked to the George in Dublin, where he helped perform the draw which decided the running order of the final.
Fifteen contestants in total made it to the finals, with representatives from Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick, Wicklow, Carlow, Dundalk, Armagh, Newry and of course, Leitrim.
Before they even reached the finals, contestants hit the ground running, organising fundraisers as part of the competition. Declan revealed that though it’s a fun event, one of the main points of Mr Gay Ireland is to raise money for a good cause, in this case, the HIV Newfill Department in St James’ Hospital, which has received over €150,000 from the competition over the past ten years.
For Declan, the competition also had a higher purpose.Adding that it draws attention to the fact that rural areas do have support for the LGBT community, Declan stated that the competition also acted allowed him to address important issues, such as those he spoke about during the final. “We had to do a minute or so of public speaking on a topic that we were concerned about,” Declan explained.
“I spoke about the Marriage Equality Referendum and as I said on that night, it’s my belief that one of the main obstacles against the referendum passing will not be old, Catholic Ireland, but it will be young, apathetic Ireland. Because we’ve so many people, twenty-five and under, who aren’t registered to vote, or just don’t vote,” he continued.
Speaking about his success in the competition, Declan said, “It was beyond more than I could have hoped for to finish among such great, great guys.”
Thanking everyone who supported his fundraising efforts, Declan added, “It was great to get the support up there on the night and in the run up to it from family and friends,” he continued. “Having the guys from Longford LGBT up for the weekend was great.”