Title: Brushing with Destiny Pt 1: Making friends Credit: Jay Bennie Features Friday 27th June 2014 - 8:25am1403814300 Article: 15285 Rights
Jevan Goulter (l) with his friends Hannah and Brian Tamaki. Though he's still only in his mid-twenties, the saga of Jevan Goulter's life could already fill a small library. Google his name and you find page after page of references and links - everything from an embattled beauty pageant, public spats with Michael Laws and others, a tell-all magazine article, a music video, a brief foray into Wellington local body politics, his closeness to Georgina Beyer, and blogs, blogs, blogs. Now he is a Parliamentary staffer for, and rumoured to be an influential force in, the Mana party. What role if any he played in Mana's recent teaming up with Kim Dotcom's money and Internet party isn't clear but he's on the public record as supporting the link-up. Goulter is clear and categorical that he is good friends with Destiny Church prophet Brian Tamaki and his wife Hannah. How did such an outspoken openly-gay man buddy up with the couple who have preached time and time again to their flock and to the nation against homosexuals and homosexuality? Do they think he represents gay New Zealand? The Tamakis' self-professed good gay friend happily opens up on their friendship and the areas where homosexuality, Destiny's religious and political activism and his own take on life all overlap. Goulter says he first met the Tamakis in 2011, when he attended a Destiny Church conference with a man he’d just begun supporting – Mana Party leader Hone Harawira. He’s since gone on to become the MP’s executive assistant. The pair was invited upstairs at Destiny's then-headquarters complex in Mt Wellington, Auckland... into a room Goulter says is memorable because it was “beautiful” and “just stunning”. “And I remember seeing everyone was sort of being drawn towards Brian... he was holding a conversation in the room... and everyone else was sort of being drawn to this other fabulous lady in this big, bright blue dress with platinum blonde hair. And obviously, being gay and everything, I saw the colour and everything and I thought 'I'll go over and I'll talk to her.” His tight friendship with Hannah Tamaki, who he immediately found “just lovely”, began. “When I went to Destiny Church that first time I had no idea what to expect. Because obviously it's that place we've all heard about and seen but who's actually gone in? And they run an amazing outfit and I guess I had this perception of what it was going to be and it just wasn't anything like that.” What it was like, the young political junkie says, was welcoming. “And it's very genuine as well, I mean never once was I asked about anything or for anything, they are more welcoming than, um, if you walk into the Stonewall [gay bar] in Sydney! “And that whole evening was mind-blowing. I'm not talking about the religious sense of it... just the organisation that goes into putting this big event on... you know, the boys coming out to do the haka, the outfits, everything's just so perfect. You know, people are used to being around gay people who are well-dressed and everything else but I'll tell you I was in this room with all these beautiful brown people who were just all done up. And everybody in the congregation makes sure that you're ok.” Goulter recalls going to church as a kid, saying it was just as welcoming, “only they were a lot better dressed at Destiny Church”. After his first brush with Destiny Goulter blogged about “all the eye-candy that jumped on the stage” at the Church, a post he says attracted 14,000 hits. Hannah Tamaki mentioned it when she was on Radio Live, and one thing led to another, and Goulter asked her to meet him for coffee. When she asked why, he says he responded: “Oh because you're fabulous and I think you're stunning”. They met up for lunch at Sylvia Park mall, he recalls, just down the road from the church's headquarters, “and, oh! We just got on straight away!” The friendship with both of the Tamakis has grown since, he says, with dinner and lunch dates common when they are in the same city. “We have huge laughs. They are funny, they have a great sense of humour. I could rattle on about them, I have huge respect for both of them. “And for me the respect comes from the fact they have been able to build this infrastructure and this empire that has helped so many people. You’ve got these two people here that have built, from the ground up, this massive thing that people are a part of.” Goulter says there is no expectation on the friendship, as the couple “are not the sort of people that would suffer fools” and “our friendship’s our friendship. There’s no ulterior motive.” He attends their church services now and then, but makes it clear he is not and never has been a Destiny Church member. He says he believes in God, and sees the Tamakis as spiritual guides of sorts, particularly Hannah. “I'll be completely honest now, sometimes I feel like I need that spiritual boost. I do, I really do. Everything could be going fabulous, but I’ll just, I’ll need a boost, and I’ll ring Hannah. I will. I’ll ring Hannah, by choice. There’s no expectation for me to ring her nothing like that, but that’s what I’ll do. And unashamedly so.” He says he doesn’t have any ‘no go areas’ with the Tamakis. “You’ve always got to tell Hannah her hair looks fabulous!” he laughs, “but no, because I don’t have friends where we have no go areas. If there were going to be no go areas then they wouldn’t be my mates. “I met Hannah first, then I met Brian – what a cool guy. What a cool guy. And I have sat there and joked with him about all sorts of things. There’s not anything I can’t say around them, because that’s not a friendship. And that’s not the sort of relationship we have. They accept me based on who I am. They know everything, I mean they can click pages on Google. They know everything about me.” At the launch of Peter Lineham's book Destiny - The life and times of a self-made apostle last year Brian Tamaki stated he has “many good gay friends,” something which eventually prompted’s interview with Goulter, as we asked online and through Destiny itself for any of these professed gay friends to come forward, confidentially if they preferred. None except Goulter ever did. He also maintains the Tamakis have other gay friends, and that their perception of gay people is not based solely on him alone. But he was the only gay friend to come forward, something he did late last year and says he’s done because, as he explains: “I’m not afraid to throw my two cents in. They’re my mates. But not everyone wants to be known at all anyway.” He questions why others would speak out about being gay and a friend of the man whose very name has become media shorthand for intolerance towards the influences and lifestyles of glbti people. “I’m not being rude, but why? I mean why would they? I mean: ‘Hone, I want you to give me some names of some Europeans, some Pakeha who are your mates and we’ll have an anonymous interview with them’. Why? Why? Why the fuck would he do it? Why would he care? The great thing about my friendship with them is that we don’t feel we have to prove anything to anyone.” He is adamant the Tamakis are not remote from gay people and our lives, saying Hannah has a family member who is gay, whom she loves regardless. “I’m not going to use names, but I know there’s a lot of other prominent people that probably would never publicly come out for whatever political reasons, but who think very highly of the both of them," he says, a touch enigmatically. “I’ve known them for two or three years. I don’t think they base their opinion of what gay people are like based on me turning up for the last three years of their life. People are people, you take them for who they are, you know.” Goulter says the Tamakis treat him with more decency than “a lot of the gay community treat a lot of other people that come into their community”. He says Destiny church is warm and welcoming and there’s no bitchiness – and, he says, the gay community is quite the opposite. Tomorrow, in part two of this three-part feature interview, Jevan Goulter talks about his interactions with the gay communities and gay Destiny Church followers. Jay Bennie - 27th June 2014    
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