Article Title:GLBTI lives: Craig Watson
Author or Daily News staff
Published on:7th February 2016 - 12:45 pm
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Story ID:17884
Text:With Proud to Play kicking off in one weeks time, we get to know a little bit more about the man behind the LGBTI sporting event, Craig Watson.   What was it like for you growing up, when did you come out? I grew up in a loving and caring family and had a strong faith in the church. This made coming to terms with my sexuality very hard and drawn out. I tried hard to become straight and even thought moving to the UK would certainly fix me. However I met loads of Christians who accepted gay people and realised that I had to accept who I was. So at the age of 33 (January 2015) and after years of depression, I accepted who I was.   When did you first get involved in the LGBTI community, what led you on this path? I returned to NZ in May this year and wanted to volunteer in the LGBTI community and help to organise an event. My background is in major event management and youth work. I did a quick google search and saw that the Asia-Pacific Outgames was coming to NZ and I thought it would be a great way to get involved. I then met Matt Fistonich who is the current Mr Gay NZ and helped him to develop and run Mr Gay NZ 2016 search. What issues do the LGBTI community need to address and what are the biggest barriers to acceptance? From my very brief introduction, there seem to be a lot of disunity. The community seems to have a number of people that like to complain about how things should be run which I think just creates further pain. It seems to result in the community not being very welcome to new people. Why is it important that the LGBTI community has allies and who is your biggest ally? The world is a mess and the LGBTI community historically have stood together united and looked out not only for their own community but for the other people suffering. This attitude of unity and standing up for one another is an important message we must continue to send to the rest of New Zealand. I have some pastors who love me and want to see me happy. These people and my family are my biggest allies. What LGBTI community achievement are you most proud of? Personally, I think the creation of a sporting group that had the statement of unity and inclusion and wanting to serve the community with profiting is a huge step to making New Zealand a proud nation. Also I am proud to the achievements so far of the new Pride Board. Their vulnerability and openness has been witnessed by the community and they have started a long journey to change the way things are done. Why is community so important? Community is family. For many of us, we haven’t had the easiest life and to have people that we can share with and who can offer help and encouragement is important. What kind of future would you like to see for LGBTI people in New Zealand? I would love to see the community more united and structured in a way that made everyone work together. I would love to see a common work space for community groups that support the LGBT community. Should New Zealand take a bigger role in advancing LGBTI rights in the Pacific? Absolutely, we have a huge part to play in changing the world. But smaller countries in the Pacific need our support and leadership. Who inspires you? Ashley Barrett is someone in the community that tries really hard to do the right thing and is always happy to help and support people so that they can support the community. Matt Fistonich  is a young guy who can see that the community needs to promote good healthy young leaders and create groups that speak their language. Matt cares about people and does whatever he can to help others. Shirley Allen is soft and gentle nature is so supportive. Shirley loves the community so much and want to see restoration to those who have been hurt and wants to work hard and play the long game to ensure things are changed and done better in the future. What are your future plans and goals? I would love to see LGBTI people who are Christians, not feel persecuted by the church. I would love churches to become more open and accepting of LGBTI people. I want young people to feel more comfortable about coming out and school or university and not feel like doing that will mean they have to change their femininity or masculinity or their sporting ability. I would love to see Proud to Play NZ lobbing sporting groups throughout NZ to become fully inclusive and policies established to ensure they are safe and supportive for young athletes. Daily News staff - 7th February 2016
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