First Mr Gay Louth aims to put LGBTQ issues in spotlight
“I see my role as an ambassador for the whole county’
WINNER of the first Mr Gay Louth competition, Peter James Nugent says he wants to use his title to campaign for a greater awareness of the sigma still faced by members of the LGBTQ community and to highlight the need for rapid testing services for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases.
The 32-year-old Drogheda native, who graduated from the hospitality studies course at Dundalk Institute of Technology, was named as Mr Gay Louth in the Barbican Arts Centre last month and will represent the Wee County in Mr Gay Ireland in Cork in March.
Peter is well known for his work with the LGBTQ community in Louth and the north east.
He is chairperson of LGBTQ Drogheda, a social and support group which was founded two years ago and established Drogheda Pride Festival. He also has links with Dundalk Outcomers and the Pride Soc at DkIT which were formed his time here as a student from 2004-2007.
‘While I’m from Drogheda, I see my role as an ambassador for the whole county. As a LGBTQ activist and now Mr Gay Louth I think it’s my responsibility to educate people to stay safe and protect themselves.’
‘I want to help young people who still find it difficult to ‘come out’ to their parents and families,’ he says. ‘Youngsters can still feel very uneasy about the whole aspect of coming out to their parents as they don’t know what reception they will get. Some parents will be absolutely fine while others can’t deal with the situation so both the young people and their parents need to be supported.’
He urges young people to get in touch with support groups catering for young LGBTQ people such as Belong to so that they can look after their mental health.
Peter is also calling for the roll out of a free rapid testing service for HIV/STIs, pointing out that the latest statistics show a 35% in HIV cases in the country.
‘ There is a need for a free confidential service so that people can get themselves checked and know their status,’ he says. ‘HIV Ireland come to Drogheda on a monthly basis to carrying out tests. It’s free and confidential and while people can go to their GP, there is a cost involved.’
He is campaigning to have the service go to Drogheda twice a month and to visit Dundalk once a month so that the whole county is covered.’
Mr Gay Louth Peter James Nugent