Earlier this year, Irish model and 2015 Mr Cork winner Nathan Adams made a public announcement on his Facebook page: he’s gay. With the news spreading far and wide, JOSH BANKS spoke to Nathan to find out how he’s coped with the reaction to his coming out – and how he’s feeling about competing for the title of Mr Ireland this month…

What was it like growing up for you in Ireland as a gay youth?
It wouldn’t have been easy, but I wasn’t out until two weeks ago so I didn’t grow up as an ‘out youth’ if you see what I mean.

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How has it been coming out to your friends and family?
I was really nervous because I rang my PR first and I got my PR’s permission to go ahead with coming out and I was sitting in the car with one of my best friends, I told them all back then it was grand and everything, but I hadn’t told any of my other family members or I hadn’t told any of my close friends of anything like that. I was just going to let them find out through my Facebook status and the status just blew up and I kind of expected a good reaction; I was nervous because obviously I’m very sporty – I’ve got hurling and boxing.

I remember when I did it and everything was fine.
Yeah, it’s built up to be so bad, so scary and then when you do it you’re like ‘Jesus Christ, what was my problem? Why didn’t I do it earlier?’

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You’re studying sports and exercise performance at the moment. Do you find it easy, balancing your work and then your modelling career?
Actually a month or two ago at college they said ‘Come back next year or in a few years and the course will still be there for you’. They gave me the option of going for modelling or choosing college. I said I’d go for modelling because modelling can last whereas you can always go back and get your degree in a few years, so at the moment I am full-time modelling.

You did boxing for four years – what was that like?
Good. I actually got into boxing because when I was young I actually got bullied out of school, so like I couldn’t stand up for myself. I wouldn’t stand up for myself so I just thought oh if I did boxing maybe people will leave me alone or whatever. Then I got pretty good at it and I actually stuck to it.

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Ireland will be voting whether or not to pass gay marriage next month…
Yeah. It’s madness, my grandmother is very old school and she’s obviously grown up years ago so she would have been in the time before it was accepted and all that. She wasn’t going to be voting at all but know that she knows that her favourite grandson is gay she’s gone out of her way to vote just because of me.

So do think it’s going to get passed then?
Well from what the polls are saying it’s almost definitely a pass. You’ve got all these polls coming through that are 70% or whatever, but it’s making people think, ‘There’s no need for us to go out of our way to vote’, so people still need to be reminded that it’s not going to pass unless you vote. Every yes vote is really important.

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Congratulations on winning Mr Cork!
Thank You! I’m now getting ready for Mr Ireland, that’s next month, that’s a big one and in Dublin. That’s another thing; people assume because you are gay and you’re Mr Cork and you’re going for Mr Ireland, does that mean now you’re Mr Gay Cork? No!

How does it feel to be Mr Cork?
It’s opened a lot of doors – tomorrow I’m in a school talking to 700 students about my coming out story. It’s not only the model side of things but it’s also the ambassador side of things, setting a good example for a lot of young people.

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Do you feel a lot of pressure doing that?
Well at lot of people in Cork already look up to me, because I’ve built up a good name of myself – a lot of people will know who I am through sport or just through modelling and stuff. Young people don’t really understand, like you give them a talk on sexuality and it’s not that it’s tough it’s just a bit of a challenge. Obviously some students it’s going to help a lot like obviously the mature students. I don’t really give talks to the younger students because obviously they are going to be immature and just laugh at something like that.

When is Mr Ireland?
Mr Ireland starts in May and it’s a one-day competition. We haven’t got a fixed date at the moment but at the moment I’m preparing for it in the gym. Cork has never won Mr Ireland so I have the possibility of bringing back the Mr Ireland title to Cork for the first time in history.

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WORDS BY JOSH BANKS