These days beauty pageants tend to be frowned upon for being exploitative and out of date – or so killjoy naysayers with sinister outlooks on life would have us believe. But ask any of the competitors taking part, and they will tell you just how much they enjoy dressing up, sharing their viewpoints and working with charities to help change the world. 

Thankfully, in the gay world, participating in pageants seems to be a lot more acceptable – though we’re waiting for some busybody to come along and ban them. One of the most popular competitions is Mr Gay World, an annual international contest for big hearted and beautiful men to help spread the LGBTQ+ word. And while it continues to attract fans and competitors, 2020 sadly saw the contest cancelled due to that blasted Covid.

However, organisers were not beaten! Instead, keen to keep the competition alive in spite pf the global pandemic, they decided to offer the 2019 runner up Fran Alvarado the title instead – just weeks after he himself was struck down with the icky virus. 

Speaking to GuysLikeU, the handsome 30-year old medic, who works at the Lavapiés Health Centre in Madrid, opens up about taking on the challenge of being Mr Gay World, how he struggled coming to terms with his sexuality and reveals his body insecurities. 

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Hoy se ha inaugurado en #Torremolinos la exposición fotográfica sobre @pasajebegona de @xe_marz en la que he podido participar. Esta es una de las imágenes expuestas titulada “LA GRAN REDADA” que hace referencia a la gran redada que tuvo lugar en el Pasaje Begoña el 24 de junio de 1971 que afectó a más de 300 personas, y según las fuentes, 114 de ellas fueron arrestadas por “atentar contra la moral y las buenas costumbres”. Algunas fueron encarceladas y los extranjeros fueron deportados. A todas les fue abierto un expediente policial y se les amenazó con estar “bajo vigilancia de las autoridades”, con consecuencias aún peores en caso de reincidencia. La “gran redada” supuso un ataque al Pasaje Begoña porque se clausuraron para siempre aquellos locales. También fue un ataque contra la libertad que avergonzó al mundo. @mrgayespana #MrGayEspaña2018 #stonewall #lgtbiq

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Congratulations  What did taking part Mr Gay World mean to you?  

I took part so that I could continue giving visibility to the LGBTQ+ community and to learn more about  activism. I wanted to collaborate with LGBTIQ+ associations and do speak out internationally. I wanted to show what was going on in my country and learn what’s going on in other countries as there are some countries around the world where homosexuality is still  condemned.

You came runner up last year, but this year you were named the winner. How did this happen? 

As a doctor, I was treating COVID patients when I received the call from Mr. Gay Pride Spain giving me the news. As Mr Gay World 2020 had to be cancelled due to the pandemic, the organisation decided to give me the role of  world ambassador for 2020. I was very excited and grateful for the recognition.

So let’s look back to when you were younger. Where did you grow up? What was family life was it? 

I grew up in Montánchez, a town south of Cáceres with less than 2,000 people. I grew up with my grandparents in a country house surrounded by animals and nature.

Did you know you were gay from an early age?   

I think I realised that I was gay from a very young age because I paid a lot of attention to the boys and I liked playing with the girls. When I was about 12 years old I told a Swiss boy who was vacationing in our town that I was gay. But it was my first love disappointment.

Was gay something you found hard  to accept? 

Realising that I was gay was very hard because I thought it was a bad thing. Also, I did not know any LGBTQ+ people in my town, which made me feel very alone.  I had a hard time accepting my homosexuality. To start with I said I was bisexual because it was just easier to tell my friends and family that.

Who was the person you were most worried to tell?

I was afraid to tell everyone to start with because I didn’t know how they were going to react. Especially my family. I was so afraid of disappointing them or of them not accepting me.

Who was the first person you told and what was their reaction?

The first person I told about being bisexual was my childhood best friend. Her reaction was very good and surprising at the same time. It was an innocent confession because we were both 14 years old and we still didn’t quite understand what sexual orientation was.

Was it hard to be gay not knowing anyone else gay around you? 

A friend of my mine who was around the same age also confessed to me that he was gay, but we both didn’t know how to act because we both considered being homosexual as something wrong. So there was a long time that we felt anguish and had the fear of rejection.

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Podéis seguir viendo el video de presentación que hemos hecho desde @mrgayespana 🇪🇸para @mgworg 🏳️‍🌈 en el enlace de YouTube que está en la descripción de mi perfil. Cada visualización, me gusta y comentario cuenta. 🇬🇧 Thanks for watching the link in my bio. You can share, like and comment 🤗 #MrGayEspaña2018 🇪🇸 #haztevisibleeneltrabajo #MrGayWorld2019 #MGW2019 #CapeTown #SouthAfrica #AtThePresidentHotelCapeTown #CityofCT #lovecapetown #CapeTownTourism #CttConnect #LGBTQTravel #TheSocialMediaCompany #gaypagessa #Mambaonline #exitnewspaper #PinkSixty #UDataZA #WTM_Africa #IGLTA #GerritPrinslooProductions #XOXOfndn #carstensian #AlanFordProductions #atthepresident

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Did religion play a part in your fear about being gay? 

Religion did not play a major role in my fear of coming out of the closet. Homophobia is so widespread. You become so scared that the last thing you’re worried about is whether or not religion will accept you, because in that desperate point you don’t hesitate to kick the faith away to defend yourself.

You say you lived with your grandparents. How did they react? 

My grandmother asked me directly if I was gay when I was 16 years old, she was in charge of telling the rest of the family. At first they were worried if they hurt me, but they supported me a lot from the first moment.

Some young people coming to terms with their sexuality tend to suffer from mental health issues. Did you go through any tough times? 

Not really. I was lucky enough to be able to talk to a social worker at my institute who helped me a lot to manage my emotions and come out of the closet.

That’s good. How was life at school? 

When I was little I liked to play with the girls and that saw the other boys call me things like “faggot”. So I spent the rest of my childhood trying to prove that I was not gay and that I was as masculine as the rest.

You trained as doctor. Was uni an eye-opener? Was it a place where you were able to explore your sexuality? 

Uni life was nothing like my school life. By then I had already defined my personality and was more mature. During my degree, it was clear to me that I was gay and that is when I had my first boyfriend for 2 years.

When you were properly out did you throw yourself into the gay scene? 

At first, I talked to boys on chat sites. It was not easy and everything was done secretly. I remember Was 18 when I first stepped foot into a gay bar. It was a very small place, but I was amazed with the amount of handsome gay boys there were. It was there that I met my current group of friends.

Was it a world that you enjoyed or was it one where you didn’t feel like you belong? 

At the beginning, I thought it was a world I didn’t belong in. In fact, it seemed like an insult to me. Over the years I started to enjoy it and I became proud of being gay.

Has looking for love been a priority? 

I love men and I have no problem jumping from one man to another one so that I find someone more special. I have been single for six years. There have been a few almost-relationships but in the end they turned out to be nothing more than meeting someone for a few months.

What kind of boyfriend are you?

I guess that would be better explained by someone who has been out with me. But I consider myself a very loving, fun, good and sexual person. I have always dreamed of finding Prince Charming and having my own children. As I have got older I have stopped believing in fairy tales and am more realistic when it comes to relationships. I understand a good relationship can only be based on trust.

What do you look for in a guy? Is it all about looks or do you see past that and look deeper?

What physically strikes me the most about a boy is his smile and his eyes. I look closely at their hands. I like tenderness – it arouses me and awakens my wildest side at the same time. I like a natural, funny, good person and loving guy.

Do you think gay men – humans actually –  are capable of sticking to one person at a time?

Of course I believe in monogamy, but as I have said previously, as I have grown, I contemplate other ways of living with love.

Have you had many meaningful relationships?

I consider that I have had two serious relationships. One lasted two years and the other lasted three. Then I met special boys who I love very much and, despite being relationships of a shorter duration, they were also intense.

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Y no hay que ser un lince para darse cuenta de que he engordado, pero aún así hay gente empecinada en recordármelo y sentencian que no soy capaz de mostrarme en peores versiones. Pues aquí va otra prueba más de ello, sin retoques digitales y luciendo mis 87 kg con una gran sonrisa. Es triste que personas con poca autoestima y MUCHAS inseguridades, en vez de trabajar su propia inteligencia emocional y querer más, se empeñen en sobresalir sobre los demás sacando a relucir las debilidades de otrxs y estén dispuestos a pisotear a quien se les cruce en el camino. En ese aspecto, por suerte, soy consciente de mi cuerpo, de sus versiones y de las circunstancias que lo acompañan. ¿Qué es mejor y qué peor? ¿Cuál es el orden de las prioridades en tu vida? ¿Qué nos hace más o menos felices? Pues no es cuestión de centrar todo el protagonismo en el físico, ni es necesario exhibirse, pero por redes sociales es lo que nos entra por los ojos. Usamos esta superficialidad como referente en nuestro día a día, aunque nos haga sentir inferiores, aunque demos por hecho que mostramos nuestros mejores momentos por Instagram. Nos seguimos ciñendo en exclusiva a este escaparate, sin hacer referencia a otros aspectos de la vida menos estéticos, que no aparecen y que darían realismo a esta realidad virtual. Nos justificamos y tiramos balones fuera. Apariencias, complejos, ansiedad, envidias, depresiones… todo ello engranado en el seno de una sociedad, cada día, con menos habilidades de comunicación y más prejuicios. ¡Claro que tengo prejuicios! Cada vez que me enfrento a un/a paciente nuevx o conozco a alguien. Y me esfuerzo en romperlos, en trabajar ese margen que permite a otrxs darse a conocer y que nuestras impresiones, por fin, tengan fundamento. Oportunidades porque yo también hago y haré cosas mal… sé tan poco de tantos temas… lloro tantas veces de emoción… necesito desconectar tantas veces para recargar las pilas… me rio tantas veces de mí… Que cada día me da menos miedo mostrarme como soy, de verdad. Cada vez busco más la felicidad de ser libre 👨🏽‍⚕️🤸🏾‍♂️🌈 #CUÉNTASELOALAPAKA

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Have you had any destructive relationships?

I was in a relationship in which my partner had not accepted his homosexuality and that was quite difficult to manage. But it could be said that a constructive relationship in which we both learned.

Do you think we search people out who we think will make us better people? 

Of course yes, at least in my case. I like to surround myself with people who bring out my best version of me and bring my life positive things. 

You’re a handsome guy. Do you think your looks have opened doors for you? 

Being good looking does catch some people’s attention. It helps, but there are other values beyond the physical one that come into play right away

Have you always been happy about the way you look? 

I have always been comfortable with my body. These days there is a lot of pressure in terms of aesthetics and I sometimes worry about hair loss or body hair or being fat

Do you think gay men are obsessed with the body beautiful – do you think this can be destructive? 

I do think we are too concerned with the physical aspect of ourselves and I think that can be very destructive. I believe that the focus of attention should be on healthy habits and that is accompanied by good aesthetics. We are obsessed to the point of completely changing our lifestyle and even acquiring harmful habits for our health. This can lead to anxiety disorders, depression and in some extreme cases suicide.

You’re very open about your insecurities – penis size, putting on weight, balding – where do you find this confidence

 It is very difficult to recognise our defects, show our weakest points or least fit in today’s society. There is nothing more gratifying than knowing yourself, accepting yourself and finding happiness in that freedom of being yourself. There is much destructive criticism that fosters hatred. I am angry that insecure or envious people resort to insults or to emphasise the problems of others to feel superior.

A lot of gay men use instagram as a means to boost their self esteem – do you have a healthy relationship with social media?  

I try to. There are some occasions when you become obsessed with followers and likes and if you do not receive that feedback it feels that you do not fit in. There are many filters and digital tweaks on instagram that distort reality and can generate more insecurity in other people who compare themselves. Keep in mind that most people tend to show the best part of our life or even exaggerate it and that creates a false sense of reality that only fools you and others.

What would you say to your 12 year old self about the future.

I would say that it is normal to be afraid of the unknown, to be calm, to continue discovering the reality that surrounds you. Remember that over time you will understand everything that will bring you tranquility and happiness.

As a doctor has it been heartbreaking to see so many people lose their lives 

It is very hard to see people get sick and much sadder to see people die. It has been physically and mentally exhausting, but it has been very rewarding and comforting to be able to leave home to go to work and be able to help other people.

Were you scared when you had the virus 

Well, the truth is that I was not really scared because I was infected at the beginning of the pandemic, in March. We did not know much about the disease or the severity of cases in young patients. We thought that it only mainly affected the elderly population or patients with previous pathologies.

What did you learn about yourself? 

I was isolated for nineteen days without leaving my room and I am lucky that I adapt quite well to different situations. I took the opportunity to continue helping from home doing interviews and answering questions from patients via social media.

How will this change the way we think as humans?

I believe that it has helped us to stop, to slow down that frenetic lifestyle that we lead, making a thousand plans without time to enjoy them or rest. It has helped us to value time and quality of life. We have reconciled with ourselves and have appreciated relationships with our loved ones and with our environment. I hope that this vision and solidarity will continue when this pandemic ends.