All Rights reserved
He's a bobby dazzler! A West Yorkshire policeman has been crowned Mr. Gay U.K. 2006. Mark Carter, 23, was voted Britain's sexiest gay man at Blackpool's Flamingo Club.
About 50 of his colleagues were there to cheer him on--in T-shirts bearing his picture--and he had the full backing of West Yorkshire Police in taking part in the contest.
As one of 23 regional finalists, he stripped down to a skimpy swimsuit to reveal his tanned, toned body to celebrity judges including Big Brother's Lea, Su Pollard, Rowetta, and Anita Dobson. He also appeared in a police-style outfit including a stab-proof vest during a "dress to impress" section.
"I am absolutely 100% over the moon," Carter said. "Two years ago I used to cry myself to sleep at night, I was so daunted by the prospect of coming out, but when I did, it was the best thing ever. I was so happy I could finally be myself.
"I came from a very straight background and upbringing, I played football, I was a sports captain, I had girlfriends," Carter continued. "I thought telling people I was gay would mean no one would want to know me, but at the Mr. Gay U.K. final I had more people together, supporting me, in one place, than I've ever had in my life."
Carter's colleague Maureen Hales, one of the party who came along in matching T-shirts bearing his photograph, said, "Mark is great. I knew he'd win, he's so down-to-earth. He's lovely."
Carter, who lives in Bradford, won PS5,000 in prizes and will embark on a year of personal appearances and photo shoots. He was representing Birmingham in the contest after winning the city's regional heat at the Nightingale club on a night out.
Carter came out to his colleagues a couple of months after he joined the police force and says he's had support from the people he works with. Mr. Gay U.K. is chosen via text votes and on-the-night voting, on the basis of looks, personality, and "x-factor."
"Mark is a great example of a young gay man achieving his goals in life," said competition organizer Terry George, adding, "If anyone assumed it was just bimbos that entered competitions like this, Mark's proving them wrong." (Gay.com/U.K.)