Miguel Martins might not have won the big title in the Mister Senior Netherlands pageant, but he became the 3rd Runner-Up and the winner in the categories Public Choice and Best Talent. Now he volunteers to continue his work as an LGBT rights defender.

Miguel Martins might not have won the big title in the Mister Senior Netherlands pageant, but he became the 3rd Runner-Up and the winner in the categories Public Choice and Best Talent. Now he volunteers to continue his work as an LGBT rights defender.

In January of this year, I was selected as a finalist of the 1st edition of Mister Senior Netherlands – a beauty and personality pageant in the Netherlands. What makes this contest so special is the fact that, for the first time, a competition of this kind is created for men over 30 years old and without any age limit. Personally, I never considered myself particularly beautiful, but I believed that with my life experience, I could add something to the competition. To my satisfaction, the jury responsible for selecting the finalists saw something in me and gave me an opportunity.

Why did I decide to apply?

In the last two years, in addition to my work as a translator and reviewer of clinical literature, I have had the opportunity to work as an actor and photo/commercial model in the Netherlands and Belgium. I started by receiving offers for smaller projects, but now I’m starting to be invited for more interesting projects. However, I am still in a situation where I must search for work in these fields. My goal is to have employers looking for me instead. For this, I need to make myself known. This is how the idea to participate in the Mister Senior Netherlands contest came to me. I thought it would be an excellent platform to make myself more visible.

My goals have gained a new dimension

However, during this 5-month journey to the final, my goals have gained a new dimension. I have written articles for entities such as Gay Star News in the UK, Hornet in the United States, dezanove in Portugal, among others. I decided to write very personal and honest articles, even if that meant exposing myself to the world. As a result, I have received messages from people from all over the world, who have read my articles and who have, in one way or another, identified with my personal story and the issues I addressed, and who wanted to thank me for raising awareness for these subjects and let me know how they felt impacted.

Public Choice and Best Talent Winner

After an enriching 5-month journey, the Grand Finale of the 1st edition of Mister Senior Netherlands took place on Sunday, June 17th in Barendrecht. Unfortunately, I did not win the big title, but I am happy about the fact that it stays in very capable hands. As for me, I got a spot in the podium as the 3rd runner-up, and I won in the categories Public Choice and Best Talent. I would not be completely honest if I said I was not sad about my position in the podium, but I can honestly say that it gave me equal satisfaction to win in the Public Choice and Best Talent categories. The jury members who evaluated us do not know me and had to base their evaluation merely on what they saw on that stage. The fans, however, followed us along this 5-month journey. Having been chosen by them made me feel really special.

As for the victory in the talent act, I confess that this was the best moment of the night for me. For my talent act, I decided to tell my personal story through a choreography with a very strong message. I am talking about the story of someone who grew up in a small village in Portugal and always felt like an outcast, who always felt afraid of being judged or rejected. Throughout my whole childhood and adolescence, I was bullied just for being different and not conforming to what society expected of me. The bullying I experienced was so traumatic at times, I’m still feeling the effects today. This is the story that I wanted to share.

I presented my choreography shirtless, wrapped in bandages that showed my fragility and my broken parts, referred to in the letter of the song that I chose to accompany the choreography. Those who watched the movie The Greatest Showman will certainly be familiar with the tune “This is Me,” in which you can hear:

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“I’m not stranger to the dark
Hide away, they say
‘Cause we don’t want your broken parts
I’ve learned to be ashamed of all my scars
Run away, they say
No one’ll love you as you are”

Written on my half-naked body were words like “fag,” “freak,” and “weak,” showing me weakened by the cruelty of the world, but never defeated. On the contrary, I was fighting this cruelty throughout my choreography, using the world’s cruelty as ways of becoming immune and winning this battle. Because it was such a personal story, I felt each move with an intensity that is difficult for me to describe. After my performance, I was under the impression that it went much better while practising at home than when I presented it to the jury. I thought I had not been able to get my message across in the way I intended. When they announced my name, however, I had proof that my message not only was understood, but it also touched the people who witnessed my performance. I spent so many hours every day working on the preparation of this choreography, and since there was a lot of physical effort, my body was full of bruises and my feet full of blisters (which, in a convenient way, fit the lyrics and message I wanted to convey). It was worth all the bruises!

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What comes next?

I do not feel like, after the final, the end has come. On the contrary, it is the beginning of a new and exciting era for me. For sure, I will continue to be part of the Mister Senior Netherlands family and be involved in different activities related to the contest.

Although I have not won the big title, my message, my motivation and my goals remain the same. In my opinion, the main duty of a Mister (winner or not) is to contribute to a kinder, more accepting world. Since there has been a huge interest in my story, I believe that right now I have an excellent opportunity – and the duty! – to use my current visibility to contribute to a better world. I thought of several causes to which I could devote myself and it seemed appropriate to devote myself to something that concerns me personally and where much still needs to be done. I decided to devote myself to defending LGBT rights. At this moment, I am still not sure about what is the best course to take. For the time being, I intend to continue to raise awareness to issues affecting the LGBT community. But I would like to contribute with so much more! So, I would like to invite all of your readers who might be reading this article to contact me if they believe I can help with any initiative or project. I remain available and at your service.

About the author: Miguel Martins
Mister Senior Netherlands 2018 3rd runner-up