Monty is the Chief Executive of London Friend, the charity that supports the health and mental well-being of the LGB&T community in and around London. Monty is also a Eurovision mega fan and is already out in Lisbon for this year’s contest.
Where are you from originally?
Wallsend, a town just outside of Newcastle in the North East.
And where do you live now?
In Turnpike Lane in north London. I live on my own and I love the space!
What do you love about London and why?
Its diversity, and the fact that – on the whole – the various communities get along. I love how broad a cultural experience you can have, from the arts to eating out, and that most Londoners are open to new ideas and creativity.
What was the first gay venue you visited?
Rockshots in Newcastle. Two friends and I had all come out to each other on the same night, which was amazing to have that support. We all went to our first gay club together, but got separated on entry, one onto the women’s side and the other two of us into the men’s. We all had great fun, but I didn’t like the segregation. Even today I prefer going out in mixed places.
Favourite club/bar/venue in London and why?
I rarely go clubbing now but will usually have a drink in the Duke of Wellington if in town. I also like Ku Bar. The Royal Vauxhall Tavern keeps being a fantastically diverse venue too, and their EuroFest nights are a lot of fun.
What is it about Eurovision that makes people love it so?
I think a combination of the fun and spectacle with the fact that Europe’s social and political sub-plots are so often played out on stage too. For me it’s the sense of community I get from it – being there with 300 or so people you see year after year, bumping into them walking around the host
city and partying with them in the evening.
What is your prediction for this year’s contest?
Israel has the zeitgeist song; fun, quirky, and tapping into the global theme of female empowerment and #MeToo, but she’s not quite hit it yet in rehearsals. It really is quite open, although a good bet is Alexander Rybak, back after his 2009 winner Fairytale, and Finland’s Saara Aalto feels like one of our own too. Look out for an impressive range of beards this year too.
What was the last theatre show you saw, where, and what did you think of it?
I saw Conchita with a 60-piece orchestra in the Palladium and it was magnificent. It’s going out on Radio 2 this Friday. The last play I saw was Evita, which was an excellent production of my favourite musical.
What is your guilty pleasure and why?
I don’t really believe in feeling guilty about our pleasures – enjoy what you like, who cares what others think?
I’m partial to a posh seat on a plane and travelling somewhere last minute just for the fun of it.
Best gift you’ve ever received and why?
One of my best friends is cabin crew and he put me on his staff concessions, so we’ve had three free trips to Rio de Janeiro. That’s pretty special!
What has been the highlight of your career so far and why?
My current job as Chief Executive of London Friend is the best I’ve ever had by a mile! I love it. It feels like we’re working with some of the most complex issues our communities face: mental health, chemsex and so on, and I’m so proud of the work our volunteers and staff do to support fellow LGBT+ people.
What’s the best party you’ve ever been to and what made it so good?
A Eurovision fan party in Malmo the year they hosted. I was on the verge of going home for an early night just after midnight but it turned into one of the best nights of dancing ever. I got home at 6am…
What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Always act with integrity and always help someone out if you can.
Who is your LGBT+ hero and why?
I love tennis so it has to be Martina Navratilova, an incredible player in the face of criticism of her sexual orientation, and now a great LGBT+ advocate.
Who are the most entertaining people you follow on social media?
Oh, I’m so rubbish on Twitter! I never have enough time to read it properly, so the people who make me laugh online are personal friends on Facebook.
Where in the world would you like to visit before you die?
Gosh, where isn’t there to go? Everywhere you travel is a delight if you approach it the right way. I’ve not been anywhere in Africa yet, so that would be great. I’d also love to go to the Australian Open tennis in Melbourne, so I complete my own Grand Slam of tournament attendances.
What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?
That it really does get better. I hope to always be at my happiest whatever my age.