Steve Eccleston…America’s next Top Model? He just may well be!
Growing up in Martinsburg, West Virginia, Steve Eccleston never imagined he would be on the verge of becoming a top fitness model (and reality TV star) in 2012. The 2009 graduate of Martinsburg High School has already been crowned like a “who’s who” of the industry: 2012’s US Mr. Fitness; Mr. West Virginia/Mr. USA competition; West Virginia’s representative for Mr. Gay World; Pittsburgh Mr. Gay, as well as first runner-up for the Mr. Gay U.S. competition (which was held in Philadelphia last year). But Steve not only has the looks & the body, but the mind and spirit as well to make his mark as an out & proud gay man and aspiring model.
and yes, Steve wants other young LGBT people to know it does indeed “get better”.
“I never had a problem in high school, as far as bullying was concerned”, he told me during a recent phone interview. “I made it very clear I was not going to tolerate any bigotry. If someone asked me if I “am” gay, I would say no; my name is not gay…I’m Steve, and we were all given individual names”.
With a postive attitude like that, no wonder Steve is going places…and one of those places is New York City, where he recently starred in a gay-themed reality TV show called “The Next American Gay”. The premise of the show (which is produced by Jarl Haugedal and Michael Billy, with Bravo’s Jonathan D. Lovitz as host) is simple; 12 gay men from across the U.S. would compete to earn the title “Mr. Gay World USA”. Steve played himself; an incredibly handsome yet-down-to-earth type of guy with a passion for equality for all.
“This was not your typical beauty pageant”, Steve wants to make clear.”You had to work really hard to earn the title, including doing things like building houses. We all had a lot of fun; it was a real blast to take part in such a ground-breaking reality series”.
So when can the American TV audience get a sneak-peek of The Next American Gay? “The good news is the show has been picked up worldwide and is now being taken through the territories by agents” Steve says proudly “it would be so awesome if the show was picked up by the Bravo Network”.
As if competing in a reality-TV show and Mr. Gay competitions were not enough to keep busy, Steve also makes a very sexy Mr. September in the 2013 Fuerte Men calendar (wow…he is one busy dude!). “Posing for the Fuerte Men calendar was really fun”, Steve says with a laugh. “It’s also for a very good cause; part of the proceeds benefit HIV and AIDS programs for those in need”.
So what does the future hold…more modeling and TV gigs? “Who knows? I’d love to keep modeling and possibly get into acting…and I have a dedication to civic duty as well; I want to see equality for everyone”.
I asked Steve if he had any advice to any LGBT youth that are currently going through a rough time because of their sexuality. “Yes…it certainly does get better. Never be ashamed of who you are; you are who you were meant to be. It’s not always safe to be “out”, but never let people label you…be proud”.
Steve is certainly an inspiration not only to gay youth, but all people of of every creed and color who seek a more equal playing field for for everyone.
By the way, the Fuerte Men calendar is a must have; top male models from across the country ringing out each month of the New Year! You can order your copy of the calendar (for $ 19. 99 plus postage and handling) by going to http://www.fuertemenstore.com/index.php/fuerte-men-2013-calendar.html In addition, when you ordet the calendar, you also get the chnace to win a trip to New York City’s 2013 Gay Pride Festival; this includes round-trip airfare as well as a 2-night stay in the Big Apple.