Sean Vincent claimed the title of Mr Gibraltar in September 2016. As Sean prepares to represent Gib competing for the title of Mister Universe we find out about how he’s been using his year to back some fantastic causes. PLUS we talk fitness, bullying, getting tested & controversy…
Our very own Mr Gibraltar will be flying the flag over at the tenth edition of Mister Universe in Punta Cana on 5th June 2017.
First, congratulations on becoming Mr Gibraltar 2016! How did it feel to take the title?
It was totally unexpected! I did it more for the fun of it, but it really changed my life, as cliched as that sounds. I really see it as an opportunity to be a role model rather than a catwalk model, but taking part also made me think twice about wanting to stay fit and healthy.
What have you been up to recently?
I’ve been dealing with a lot of local charities because I feel like that’s where I’m supposed to be; focusing myself on the community. I won the title but I feel like sharing my year with everybody, pulling people together and creating a forum. That’s what it’s about.
I recently did work with Lesley Chadwick at the Elliot Hotel where we held a fundraiser quiz night, and I managed to channel my inner Alan Carr a little bit! We had a bit of fun at the beginning whilst we were waiting for people to come in sort of having a laughing with trying to recruit the next Mr Gibraltar.
I’ve also been to Morocco twice to help out Gibraltar Chesire Home Support Group, one of the most major causes we’ve been dealing with. They are a charity based in Tangier, Morroco helping out children who have a roof after their head but are looked after by carers. We took over a lot of supplies and clothing and I bought a whole load of art supplies. We managed to have some fun as well when we got there just to integrate, relax and chat and paint.
What’s been your Mr Gibraltar highlight so far?
I couldn’t possibly pinpoint one thing. I feel like I’ve made a lot of friends and the runners-up, Jordan Davis and Felix Botham, have become good friends of mine. We’ve shared the year together. Like I say, it’s not been about me, it’s about really extending the olive branch to a lot of people – so I guess that’s really my highlight.
“You can be WHOEVER YOU WANT TO BE AND NOT FEEL REPRESSED. YOU CAN EXPRESS EMOTION.”
You did a talk at GibTalks in February, “Pride not Prejudice” and spoke about your experience growing up – particularly as a gay man. What’s your advice for young guys in Gib who look up to Mr Gibraltar as a role model?
GibTalks was great because it gave me a platform to talk about not only my journey up until now, but my childhood and how I found it different to today in terms of how you can be accepted. Not just for LGBT people, but also trying to relate to people in other minority groups. My main message was that you should never think the freedoms we enjoy today are guaranteed tomorrow. You’ve got to speak up and continue the fight.
“I think often women are often confident to talk about their problems and get things off their chest, but guys just don’t feel they can do the same… they’re not as free. Especially if they’ve been brought up to feel like they have to be alpha male to fit in, it can bring along immense pressure mentally.”
As far as being a male role model for guys… I know I’m not the most alpha male but I feel like whether you’re straight, gay or whatever, you can be who you want to be and not feel repressed. You can express emotion.
“I do remember feeling a sense of relief when I moved to the UK at 10; there was just a different perspective there about being open-minded.”
Did you experience any prejudice growing up?
I grew up in Gibraltar until I was 10. While I was at school here I did face a little bit of bullying, and I did feel a bit ostracised as I got older. It wasn’t just targeted at me, it could sometimes be racial towards others which was obviously just not right. I do remember feeling a sense of relief when I moved to the UK at 10 – there was just a different perspective there about being open-minded.
After High School I studied Performing Arts at a new college where I met a lot of like-minded, crazy people. That was maybe my starting point for being open.
When University kick-started it was like… WOW I’m on my own, but at the same time it was a very empowering moment in life. Education is so important. I studied Fashion Promotion where you look at the trends and why they came about. Learning about the 60s and 70s when it was all about liberation and the sexual revolution gets you thinking. I’ve got to thank my tutors for really for opening up my mind and helping me to realise that I shouldn’t be ashamed of myself for anything. I was in London for a total of seven years before coming back to Gib and it made me realise a great deal about myself.
What’s your advice for other Lads facing personal challenges?
I feel like your biggest weapon is your voice. Keeping quiet and holding onto something internally is never a good thing. There are plenty of organisations, charities, that you can pick up the phone and go down to to speak to someone. If you don’t feel confident about doing that then you should have someone at least, maybe a friend or somebody, that you can just confide in, but never hold on to ill-feelings. Always lift yourself up and know your self worth – that’s what I’ve done, and you can too.
Have you had lots of attention?
It certainly makes more well-known in Gibraltar, but there have been a couple of things that have popped up elsewhere. In terms of health and fitness I’ve totally changed my attitude – I’ve got a personal trainer now – and I found someone who’d reposted a photo on Instagram of me in the gym with #fitnessmodel. As if I would even consider myself to be even that level, you know what I mean? That was a huge compliment.
“It’s all about image, poise and being a gentleman.”
So is fitness a big part of your prep for Mister Universe?
Mr Gibraltar’s Fitness Tips:
“Lots of cardio, and don’t forget leg day! People tell me I’ve got good legs but it’s important to squat. In terms of getting a flatter stomach? It’s not about doing 100 million crunches, you’ve go to work on the cardio, squats and it’s 75% diet too. It’s hard work – I go to the gym 5-6 times most weeks.“
The guy they are looking for is an all rounder – someone to represent the good causes they want to represent, and also a fashion-model type. I’ve seen the contestants and they’re all very good looking. It’s all about image, poise and being a gentleman.
This year I’ve also done a few catwalk fashion shows for charity including one recently for Bosom Buddies, so I guess I’ve been preparing my catwalk aside from my physique. I feel quite confident doing public speaking but you should never remain too confident, just in case…
Luckily working in fashion I’ve got a couple of contacts who can help me out when it comes to what I’ll be wearing on the night. Having lost a few trouser sizes I probably need a couple of new suits!
Who’s backing you through the process?
When I first heard about “Mr Gibraltar” a friend of mine, Lorraine Laguea [Director – NP Estates Gibraltar], said “come on Sean go for it – I’m going to give you the sponorship money, put your name down” – so NP Estates and their crew have all been behind me this whole way through.
Luke from Ocean Village is my personal trainer – he’s amazing and the best for advice, follow him on Instagram.
“I encourage people to at least get tested regularly.”
Apart from bringing home the Mister Universe title, what else do you want to do before handing over the crown?
A charity I haven’t really touched base with yet is campaigning for HIV/AIDS. I find it astonishing that after 30 years we have made progress but we are still living in a world that has virus.
One thing I have been able to do is work with the Equality Rights Group GGR with regards to promoting staying clean of drugs and getting sexually tested, which you can do at the hospital on the 5th floor. I encourage people to at least get tested regularly.
In terms of Sexual Health I think they’re trying to make advances in terms of building a special unit somewhere a little bit more central in town… that’s the rumour anyway. The setup they have at the moment is good – maybe they could just promote it a little bit more, because I think when you have conversations with friends and people in general they’re not very aware.
One of the Mr Gib candidates you competed against caused controversy on Speak Freely, suggesting it was a ‘tongo’ [fix]…
I think everyone is entitled to their opinion whether they are right or wrong. I believe the organisation has been wonderful and very fair. While I was just a candidate I made some great friends, and that’s all to do with the professionalism of the production company and the fact that we had fun at the end of the day. I wish all the contestants the best of luck and love. I only have love for everybody and that’s it.
I don’t have anything bad to say, I was just so shocked and surprised when I won on the night – it was just totally unexpected and like I say it’s just been wonderful because I’ve had so many people behind me cheering me on.
And now it’s time for Gibraltar to take the main stage at Mister Universe for the first time – let’s celebrate who we are as a community & what we represent.
“Let’s get Gibraltar On the Map!”
How can Gibraltar get behind you for Mister Universe!?
They can vote online now on the Mister Universe website: http://listas.20minutos.es/lista/mister-universe-2017-419463/
And follow me on Facebook please, try and get those likes up: https://www.facebook.com/Men-Universe-Gibraltar-Mister-Universe-Gibraltar-216563505472108/?ref=br_tf
Let’s get Gibraltar on the map!