Transcript

This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity

Wai Ho: So, I'm here with Mike and Esme in a park with a piano. Hello!

Esme Oliver: Hello. This park used to be a prostitute park, and then it was Zeal the Youth Club, and now it's just kind of here.

Mike Bryant: With piano.

Wai: Lovely! You have both just come from a radio show. Tell me a bit about that.

Mike: No. [laughs]

Esme: Well, we host a radio show called Queer Zone on Wellington Access Radio.

Mike: That's a very inventive name. We chose it for its originality.

Esme: It's part of a group of shows called Youth Zone, which are about radio made by youth for youth, and they wanted a queer-specific one, because there are lots of just general youthy ones, and so we...

Mike: Youthy?

Esme: Well, you asked us, actually. You got a push to ask someone and you chose us.

Wai: Yes, that's correct.

Mike: Because we are pretty magnificent, aren't we?

Esme: Yeah.

Wai: So tell me about how I asked you.

Mike: Well, you said, "Would youse guys like to do a queer show?" And we said, "Sure!" And then we did.

[laughter]

Esme: And we've been doing it I guess for about a year now, or something.

Mike: I think so. I'm not entirely sure about the dates. I've always forgotten.

Esme: And we've had various people come along and do it with us. We used to have Maria. She did it with us for several months.

Mike: Yes, and Yulia who did it for a couple of days.

Esme: Yeah, and earlier this year I had to stop doing it for awhile because of school, but we've just recently changed time slots so now I'm back, but we had Brendan for a while and he's still around.

Mike: Yeah, and I've basically been getting in... Brendan's been my permanent fixture along with me, but we've also been getting in a different person every week. Not even a special guest, really, just a random co-facilitator thing.

Esme: But we do try and get interviews and guest spots from people who are kind of something to do with the queer community, or something in support of the queer community, or something that's just of interest.

Mike: Like today we had two people from a musical come along, and it's not a particularly queer-focused musical, but it was....

Wai: But you just like musicals.

Mike: I love musicals, so I thought why the hell not?

Esme: And I mean, plenty of people like musicals, and they were saying the musical has a slightly queer sub-story to it, anyway.

Mike: Yeah. Yeah.

Wai: So, do you just have interviews or is there other stuff?

Mike: We do weekly segments that we have, and we do it every week. Like, we have Celebrity Crushes, and normally we have a boy and a girl, but that's sort of flexible to our desires and our lasciviousness of the day.

Esme: Today I had four crushes, so...

Wai: Four! Wow.

Mike: She's greedy. She's greedy. Also we have a thing called Dear Madonna, which we sort of talk about what's pissed us off that week, in a light and humorous way.

Esme: Yup.

Mike: And we have Top 5, and we normally pick something and we do a top five of it. Like, we will have top five favorite Disney movies, or top five favorite bands or something. And today it was top five favorite pink things, to tie in with Pink Shirt Day.

Esme: And we also play a lot of music and just hang out and just talk, really. We don't necessarily sit down and go, okay, we're going to talk about this queer issue or whatever. We talk about whatever is going on for us at the time, and because we're all queer we all come from a queer perspective, that obviously plays a slant. And I mean, I don't think we want to make it overly queer, because....

Mike: We want everyone to be able to listen. We don't want people to tune in and be like: Oh, they're talking about anal sex again. I don't want to listen to this.

Esme: [laughs] Yeah. And plus, I can only talk from a personal point of view, but I'm queer and it doesn't dictate my entire life, you know?

Mike: Yeah.

Esme: It's like a lot of people say a lot of bands who are classed as Christian bands talk about how they come from a Christian life view, and so that obviously influences their music, but they don't classify themselves as a Christian band. I see that the same way with my sexuality. It's like I come from a queer perspective, but that doesn't mean that everything I do is queer, you know?

Mike: I think that the point of it is more that we want the ability to sort of make talking about queer things okay, rather than having to talk about queer things.

Esme: Yeah. Yeah.

Mike: I think we want it to be a place where people can listen if they want, for queer stuff, or it's just a really relaxed show, and I think that's one of our main attributes.

Esme: It's not preachy, and that's good because so much stuff that's aimed at queer people is really preachy.

Mike: Yeah, and it's like: We want marriage and children and...! And we're just like: We want to talk; we want to be able to bullshit for hours on end.

Wai: So do you think being queer today, for both of you has changed? Oh, well, I guess you weren't around then so you wouldn't know, but....

Mike: Well, back in my day.... [laughs]

Esme: I think a lot of the stuff I've heard, especially about the queer rights movements and stuff like that, you had to stand up and say: This is who I am. I am a gay man, or a lesbian woman, or whatever, and this is all that I am and I have to stand completely behind that. And I think now, because there is so much more acceptance...

Mike: It's still awful.

Esme: There are still a lot of problems, but I think it's more about...

Wai: What would be the problems?

Mike: School mainly, I think.

[laughter]

Wai: Oh dear. That old chestnut.

Mike: I think that being queer in school is one of the hardest things, and I've heard that even from people of the older generation, or who have just come out recently. They're all like, coming out at school or being queer at school would be the hardest or has been the hardest thing.

Wai: Even in 2010?

Mike: Oh, definitely.

Esme: The thing that I always say is that high school, especially, is like a microorganism of what society is like, you know?

Mike: It's a little world.

Esme: It's this tiny enclosed little world with all these people who are like a hyper-version of everything they would be in the outside world.

Mike: Wow!

Esme: Everything's so much more intense within high school, and there are so many more lines drawn. You have to be this or you're that, or, you can't be that because then you can't be this, you know?

Wai: I kind of thought there was this, not a stereotype, but a perception that schools today or young people today were really open and really no boundaries, really gender fluid, and that kind of thing.

Mike: School environments are very judgmental and they're very compartmentalized. You have to...

Wai: Or does it depend on your school, as well?

Esme: Well, yeah.

Mike: To an extent, but I still think that it's a hard thing to be out at school because they are so based on stereotype, and everyone at school is a bastard, you know?

Esme: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah – kids are cruel.

Mike: Yeah, even when at school, I was a total ass.

Wai: So did you both have a hard time? Well, you're still at school Esme.

Esme: No, I'm at uni now.

Wai: Oh, you're at uni! I see.

Esme: I didn't have too bad a time, but I've always been one of those people who stood separate from the crowd and didn't really care. There are a lot of people who do care and take all that stuff to heart.

And just to go back to the previous point, a lot of people do think that school today is a lot easier because they look at society and they see that it's so much easier than when they were young, but no one understands what being a high schooler now is like unless they are one. And society can be a lot more accepting, or not openly opposed or anything, but school is not going to change for a long time unless a lot of stuff is done.

Wai: So, is being queer not an issue anymore now that you're not at school?

Mike: It is an issue, and I think that homophobia is like racism. It's always around, and it's bad form to...

Wai: So you might not get beaten up in the street, but people still...

Mike: Yeah, and it's bad form to insult it, and everyone frowns upon it, but I think that everyone still has these little prejudices and little ideas of what things should be, and it's very hard to see outside of what their ideas are. And I think that's the main problem.

Esme: And I think it's almost worse now, because when it was clear that you couldn't come out or else you'd get the crap beaten out of you or whatever, you knew where the boundaries were, you knew where the lines were, you knew how that worked. But now, because it's so pushed under the carpet, because you're not supposed to say you hate gay people or whatever, I think it's a lot more vicious and a lot more poisonous because it is those secret whispers, it is those behaviors that you can't pinpoint and say, that's homophobia, because people don't want to show that they're homophobic.

Wai: But it still affects you. You can still tell?

Esme: Well, it's still behavior that stems from homophobia, but no one does it blatantly enough for you to be able to...

Wai: What is it? Is it a look or do people kind of...?

Mike: When I came out the thing I had a problem with was suddenly I had a lot more friends, and I was sort of looking around and they still were uncomfortable with a lot of queer things that I said, and I think that they suddenly sort of attached themselves to me so that they could look accepting even if they were not necessarily.

Esme: Yeah. Yeah.

Wai: So is it kind of like because they were friends with you, therefore they couldn't be homophobic?

Mike: Yeah, yeah.

Esme: Yeah.

Wai: And so it excuses all their behavior?

Mike: Yeah.

Esme: I think also the other side of the coin is people sort of deciding not to be friends with you, and it's not necessarily outright said it's because you're gay, but it's kind of...

Wai: So has that happened to you?

Esme: Yeah, I've had a lot of the girls at my school wouldn't be friends with me or would sort of avoid me because I came out really young. I came out in year 10.

Wai: Which is 14?

Esme: Yeah, 14. For me, it was 13. So that sort of colored who I was all through school, and there were girls who would just not get to know me even though I was friends with their friends, they would purposely not get to know me. If we were hanging out in a group they would avoid me because they just didn't want to know, you know?

Mike: Another thing for me was that I had people who were like, "Well, I'm fine with gay people, but he rubs it in my face, so I don't want to have to deal with him," and I'm like, you know, I have a right to talk about my boyfriend occasionally. And I think that's it – if you talk about who you're with or if I said to someone that I have a crush on this guy and I think he's really cute...

Wai: They see that as rubbing it in their face, rather than just talking about your life.

Mike: Yeah, they'd see that as me sort of dancing naked semi-naked going I'm gay! I'm gay! I like it up the bottom!

[laughter]

Esme: It's also that other thing that I would find if I would ever admit to having a crush on a straight girl, everyone would be like, "But she's straight. You can't have a crush on her." I've had a crush on guys who I've later found out to be gay. That doesn't stop me from having a crush on them, and people just want you to stick to your own kind and not really talk about it. Like, they're okay with it in theory, but when it's in practice it's not.

Mike: And then there's also the: I'm gay. Do you have a crush on me?

Ah, no.

Well, why not?

Esme: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Mike: It's a major double standard.

Esme: I remember very clearly, I think it was 4th form, and we were having a party. We were all hanging out at my friend's place, and we were playing Gay Chicken. Do you know the game?

Wai: No.

Mike: Yes! Yes!

Esme: Okay, you start at someone's foot and you start touching them.

Mike: It's such fun.

Esme: So, you can either start at their foot and work your way up, or you can get close to a kiss or whatever, and the person who pulls away first is the gay chicken.

Mike: For some reason I always won.

Wai: So, you do it with someone of the same gender.

Esme: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And me and this girl who is actually quite a good friend of mine were picked to go, and I remember really clearly we were getting really close and then she was like, "No, no, no! I can't do it. You'll get off on it," and I was like, "Excuse me?"

Mike: I already have. [laughs]

Esme: But it's like, she's one of my best friends. I don't see her sexually at all, but she couldn't separate that line. She had really close guy friends and she couldn't understand it was the same thing for me. And I think it's that kind of assumption...

Mike: It's kind of sad, really.

Esme: Yeah, it's that assumption that you immediately like every guy or every girl, which is ridiculous.

Mike: And then there are some of us who actually do like every guy.

[laughter]

Wai: So what are the kinds of things that you'd like to change in society if you were given a magic wand or something?

Esme: I think I would even the expectations for queer people and straight people. Like, a straight person isn't always expected to have a boyfriend or to always be talking about... You know, change those expectations and also change the... I don't know how to phrase this next thing. You talk for a bit.

Mike: [laughs] Okay, I'll talk out of my ass. I think what Esme is trying to say, or what I'm trying to say – I don't know, I'm not going to speak for you...

Esme: Speak for me if you want. Go for it.

Mike: No, I won't because I'll be wrong, and you'll tell me that.

I think for me, I sort of don't want to lose the difference or the quirkiness that gayness is seen as, because I kind of like that. I like the fact that we're sort of our own thing. Lots of people want to just enter normal society, and I'm like, no, I want to be seen as a sub-thing of society. I want to be seen as the queer community because I like the gay community, and I like it being as it is. But it would be nice to be, as Esme was saying, accepted, so that if I came out to someone they wouldn't think I would instantly like them.

Esme: And it wouldn't be like: Oh, I have a cousin who is gay! Would you like me to set you up?

Mike: Yeah, and it's like all gay people have sex, so they don't think that I'm going to go out and have sex every night. I'd like to be seen as gay, but I don't want to be seen as fitting a stereotype or anything. I don't want them to go, oh, he's gay because he acts like this and he looks like this. I want to be known as gay because I like guys. I think that's sort of the…

Esme: I think it should be changed so that straight guys who are a little bit camp shouldn't immediately be assumed to be gay. Just coming back to what you were saying about keeping the community...

Mike: We're like a news interview! "Coming back to what you were saying...."

Wai: Will you tell us about the weather, as well?

Mike: Hello, my name is Sunny Showers.

Esme: There are a lot of ethnic groups who are a part of society, but they also have their own community and their own celebrations, and so I think it should be like that. It's perfectly okay to be German in a New Zealand society, but you might also go and wear lederhosen and do strange dances with your family, and that's okay. I think it should be like that for gay people. Like, it's okay to be gay at work or wherever, but you can still go and dance with a bunch of guys or girls or whatever, and it would be fine.

Mike: You'd know this too, because you're from Malaysia. Is it Malaysia? Yeah. And you identify as a Malaysian New Zealander, and as a queer woman. And being Malaysian New Zealander is its own thing. You're not just a person; you're a person who is also a thing. It should be that I'm a person who is also gay.

Wai: So, how do you involve yourself with the queer community or gay community?

Mike: Lots of sex and drugs.

Wai: Of course.

Mike: Yeah, massive orgies.

Esme: We go to high schools and we recruit, as well. That's a big part of our job.

Mike: We're big Satanists.

[laughter]

Esme: Yeah, massive orgies and human sacrifice.

Wai: Oh great, so all of that, and obviously you do the Queer Zone.

Esme: We do the radio show. We do the radio show.

Mike: We're technically on the committee for Wellington Gay Welfare Group in Wellington, but we never go.

Esme: Yeah. Yeah.

Mike: But we're on the committee!

Esme: We both volunteer at Out in the Square every time. I do stage managing for it, and I've done stage managing for other queer theatre stuff. I think for me, more than being part of this committee and this committee, and I do this, this, and this...

Mike: Oh, sorry.

Esme: No, no, no. That's good too. I'm absolutely not dissing that, because that's a really powerful thing to be using those tools to work for all the things we'd love to have. But I think for me, part of being part of the queer community is going to things like School's Out, which is the youth support group we are part of.

Mike: Yeah, and socializing.

Esme: Yeah, I think it's just about socializing with other people who identify as queer – people who sort of get that part of your life, you know?

Mike: It's totally a social thing. It's like if you're a pregnant woman, you want to go to pregnant woman groups and meet up with other pregnant women so that you can connect. I don't know why I'm using pregnant women as an example.

Esme: So, queer is a temporary state?

[laughter]

Mike: Oh, no, but you know....

Esme: A temporary medical condition. [laughs]

Mike: I'm trying to be serious for once in my life and you're ruining this for me!

Esme: I'm sorry. Serious business faces.

Mike: [makes a raspberry noise] What was I saying? So yeah, but it is like being German. You would want to go in a certain group and wear lederhosen all day.

Wai: So it's like a socializing thing and meeting other people.

Mike: Yeah, but there is also the charity aspect. Like, if you....

Wai: Is volunteering important for you?

Mike: Totally.

Esme: I think for me it's important, but not as a queer person, but as a humanitarian.

Mike: I do it because it's fun, and it's a way to meet new people. I go out and I collect for AIDS day; Esme and I both do it. You get in the room and you meet all these people you've never met before, and you can use it as a socializing tool as well as doing good for other people. And that's sort of how we're in the queer community, just by being our nutty selves and being in the things.

Esme: I don't think you have to go to gay bars, or you don't have to volunteer at AIDS day or whatever to be a good queer person.

Mike: Although if you want to, it's perfectly acceptable. We're not going to judge you.

Esme: Right, but those aren't requirements for it, but it's things you can do to sort of be a part of the community.

Mike: But you do have to take a test.

Esme: [laughs] Yeah, yeah. You get a report card.

Mike: And a license, and it tells you....

Wai: And what do you get tested on?

Mike: Well, whether you like the color lavender is a big one. Spice Girls and pop music.

Wai: Hot pink?

Mike: Hot pink, yeah. You've got to be able to see someone with a big dick from 10 miles away.

Esme: [laughing] I can't do that! Does that discount me?

Mike: If you're a gay woman you can't shave your legs, and if you're a gay man you have to shave your legs.

[laughter]

Mike: So, both of us are out, I think.

Wai: Talking about stereotypes, do you think they still exist? Obviously, mainstream still thinks it's a thing, but do we have it within the queer community?

Esme: Yes.

Mike: Yeah.

Esme: Oh, definitely within queer communities.

Wai: And how is it different from what mainstream does?

Mike: Like, you'll see lots of people and they're like: Oh, she's trans. I don't like her because she's trans and she freaks me out; or, he's a drag queen so he must be a bottom, and he must do all this stuff and he must not be a proper man.

Wai: So we're still prone to a lot of the same stereotypes?

Mike: And also because I am fat, I'm of bigger build, I'm a fuller-bodied male, I'm instantly put into the bear category. And it's like, I'm not a bear. I'm not a walking carpet. You know, there are still the bears and the twinks and the mega femmes and the whatever they are.

Esme: And for me, I justify myself as queer, but I am attracted to males and females. I date both males and females.

Mike: Greedy!

Esme: I think that the straight community thinks that as a queer girl who wears Docs, immediately I'm a lesbian, and if a guy ever does want to date me it's just because I'll have sex with girls in front of him or something. I've actually had that experience of people expecting that of me.

And in the queer community I always get called a fag hag. I've had that quite a lot. Or, I'm straight but pretending, or I'm just experimenting, or whatever like that. And it's like, actually no, I've known I've liked girls since I was a kid, but I do like boys as well.

Wai: What do you think is up with that? What do you think is up with all the judgments or the assumptions? Are people just bored?

Mike: From the queer community, I think that because a lot of us feel that we're being judged our whole life we sort of feel it gives us a right to judge others, and that extends to people in our community. I think that a lot of people who judge in the gay community, so like if Esme and I were really judgmental and we were stereotypical, and this person has to be a bear or this person has to be a twink, then I think we would be judging straight people just as much as we judge gay people. I think it is a defense mechanism.

Esme: I think especially from the queer community, a lot of the feeling I've gotten is that it was so hard to get acceptance, and you had to stand up and you had to say: I'm a man who loves men, or I'm a woman who loves women. And I think that battle was so hard for so many years, I think someone coming along who could fit into the norm of society, or could go the other way, it's sort of like you don't deserve to be a part of this community because we've fought so hard to form this community, and we want to keep it safe. And I think there's a lot of that worry that it's going to start breaking down the integrity of what they've fought so hard for. And I kind of understand that, but at the same time I really don't.

Mike: When I first came out I came out as bisexual because I thought that would... [interrupted]

Wai: How old were you?

Mike: When I came out the first time? I told myself when I was 11 that I was "bisexual," and I came out to my friends when I was 11 as bisexual. And then when I was 15 I came out to all of my school as bisexual. And then when I was 16 I realized that I was gay, and I came out as gay.

So when I came out as bisexual, I thought I'd do that because I thought it would be easier, because that way I would at least be perceived as half normal – not that normal, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah....you know. But also, when I was "bisexual" I found out about School's Out and I was like, well I don't need to go to that because I'm not actually gay, and I sort of felt like I wasn't worthy enough to go to it because I was bisexual, not gay, and it was a gay group.

Wai: So this is like a big ranking system.

Esme: I found that, too, actually.

Mike: I'm not finished, excuse me! I am not finished. [laughs]

Esme: Let me say one tiny thing.

Mike: No, because I'll forget.

Esme: When I first came to School's Out I was scared about saying I was bisexual because of that same thing.

Wai: But had you met gay people before who had said...? [interrupted]

Mike: No.

Wai: That it was just a perception that you had?

Mike: I thought it would be easier. And then when I came out as gay, and I was like, "I'm gay," I realized that it was actually a hell of a lot more difficult to be bisexual because you sort of get fired at from the gay community and the straight community, and it's like the straight community are like, you're not one of us, we don't want you; and the gay community are like, you're not one of us, we don't want you. And then you're like, well, maybe I'm trans. And the trans are like, no, fuck off.

[laughter]

Wai: An unwanted puppy.

Esme: I definitely find that, as well. Part of why I just say queer is because if I say bisexual or pansexual or whatever, there is that attitude. And when people find out and hear me talking about hot guys or whatever, they're just like, ah. There's this moment where they're like, oh, so you're not one of us. And I won't name any names, but....

Mike: It was me. I'm sorry.

Esme: I was working on this project with a bunch of other queer people, and I never said I was a lesbian to anyone. They just assumed because I said queer. And when the person who was in charge of this project found out that I wasn't a lesbian, but was attracted to all genders, he kind of went a bit funny about that. And then he talked to Brendan, my youth worker, about that and was asking him questions and asking him what he thought about it, behind my back.

Wai: So there was a bit of education work getting done. [laughs]

Esme: But I was like, how is that even relevant? I'm here working in a semi-professional capacity. I'm definitely queer; I'm definitely part of the community. It's not even relevant.

Mike: And particularly because it wouldn't even be any of his business. Even if you are gay, it doesn't give you a right to question other people's sexualities.

Wai: But was it a little bit more of kind of: wow, I've never met anyone who didn't identify as gay or straight? Or was it like: wow, how new and fantastic? Or was it a: whoa, that's really whacked, and what's up with that?

Esme: No. It was a I don't believe you.

Mike: And I think a lot of it is also that when they do believe you, you're also perceived as greedy.

Wai: You don't think it's a young person thing, as in: Oh, you're so young, you wouldn't know. You haven't made up your mind. Or do you think it's definitely a bisexual or pansexual or a queer [prejudice]?

Esme: I think it's more prejudice against people who aren't just gay. And I think there's this perception of being fake or being indecisive.

Mike: Or just experimenting.

Esme: Yeah.

Wai: How do the rest of your friends, when you came out to them, how did they all [react]?

Mike: Most of my friends were really good. One of them went a bit funny for a while. And I've known him all my life and he was mainly like, well why didn't you say anything before? And I think a lot of it was that he was hurt that he wasn't the first to know, because I didn't tell him first because he was my best mate, and it was going to be a hell of a lot harder to tell him this. So I think a lot of it was the hurt. But mainly from my friends and close group of friends, they knew that I was sort of thinking about it, and I think most of them were okay.

Some of them, I think, are still uncomfortable with it, and they try to hide it with humor, but they at least put up the front of being accepting.

Wai: Fake it 'til you make it.

Mike: Yeah. They're not: I hate gays. They're just sort of uncomfortable and they don't know how to deal with it, even though I've been out for years. And they're starting to be fine with it, but they're like, well, you're gay, and they'll mask it with humor. You know, if I say something about an attractive girl, they're like: But you're gay! She doesn't have a penis. Ha, ha, ha! You know, just weird shit like that, and it's fine, they are trying.

Esme: I think for me, I was the second in my group of friends to come out as bisexual, and I was quite new to the group of friends. And this other girl who had come out had been friends with these girls since she was like five, and so whatever she said, they were going to have to accept her. And when I came out, it was like they understood that it would have been hypocritical if they weren't okay with it with me, but I think that one of the things that has always kept me a little bit distant from that group of friends is them not knowing how to deal with that. You know, I'm not their friend they've known since they were five, so they don't know me well enough, and it's always been a slight thing that's sort of gotten between the friendships.

But I never really had... I had really close friends when I was a kid, but all through high school I didn't really have really close friends until I came to School's Out, because apart from one girl I just never really clicked with people. And I think a lot of that was the queer thing – was that people sort of immediately got this idea about me and kept their distance.

Mike: I think that one of the hardest things for a lot of straight people is sort of the feeling that they have to accept it. They're just sort of like: I have to accept it. They don't really get time to actually think about it and come to terms with it themselves. Homophobia is seen as wrong in most circles, so a lot of people may feel uncomfortable about it, and they may have natural prejudice, and they're like: Well, I actually feel this, but I have to act like I'm totally cool with it. And I think that can be hard for a lot of people.

Esme: And also when they bottle it up and push it down, it becomes more toxic.

Mike: Yeah, they have to come to terms with it.

Wai: So do you think there should be like a straight-people group, a straight people support group for coming to terms with it?

Mike: Well, there are groups for parents.

Wai: PFLAG, yeah.

Mike: Yeah, so why can't there be groups for friends? Why not?

Esme: Yeah, I think it is such a huge bombshell to drop on anyone, no matter how we feel that it shouldn't be, because it shouldn't be.

Wai: Yes, everybody still assumes that everybody's straight, unless they're told otherwise.

Esme: Yeah. And it shouldn't be this big bombshell, but the fact is that it is, and I think a lot of queer people get defensive when they come out because it's such a hard thing to do. And if anyone isn't immediately like, "Oh my God, you're gay! That's so fantastic," it's a hard thing to deal with. And I think when people have to fake that, it's really hard for them.

Wai: Did any of you... any of you...

[laughter]

Mike: Which ones? Who are you talking to? All of you! Hey guys, come in here!

Esme: Our imaginary friends?

Wai: Did either of you struggle with yourselves with coming out?

Esme: I think for me, the hardest thing was that I always knew that I was attracted to both genders, and I think for me there was this attitude coming from somewhere that you had to be straight or gay. And that was the thing I struggled with for a few years. It was like, I can't just be a lesbian, and I can't just be straight; I can't fit into those. And that was hard.

And then actually in sex-ed classes the idea of bisexuality got introduced, and I was like, okay, I have a label now. I'm okay. And after that I was fine with myself. It was that not knowing that it was an option that was hardest for me.

Mike: Yeah, I came out as bisexual because I thought it would be normal. I didn't want to be seen as fully gay. But apart from that, it was only a very vague, vague, vague notion in my head that I didn't want to be seen as fully gay, because it wasn't a decision of going, I don't want to be gay, because I didn't click that I was gay until later. I think it was a subconscious thing. I was going, I don't want to be seen as gay, but really, apart from that minor, vague sort of notion in the back of my head, I was fine with it within myself. I'm too arrogant. I love myself too much to give a rat's ass, I think.

Wai: Oh good! So you've both got healthy self-esteems!

Mike: That's one word for it.

Esme: I think that's two of the things that make us so confident and able to do things like the radio show, and be so welcoming at School's Out, which we are.

Mike: And it's what makes us be such great friends, as well, I think.

Esme: Yeah, it's because we've always just had this confidence about that. I mean, we've both had minor struggles, but it's never been a huge thing. I mean, I absolutely have sympathy for people for whom it is a huge thing, and I really empathize.

Mike: Empathize, and you can totally understand everything that they're going through. It's never affected us as badly in a lot of ways.

Esme: I've had some more struggles with different issues in my life, so I can empathize with that.

Wai: And it's fantastic that you are both kind of out there on all these committees, and on the radio and everything, so that's kind of that whole role model thing so that people can see: Whoa! We don't have to be sad queers. We can be happy queers! [laughs]

Esme: I'm so sick of the gay angst, man.

Mike: Yes! Every gay film is like, aaugh, I'm gay, angst, angst, angst!

Wai: It's a little bit 2009.

Esme: Well, actually there's this movie I was talking about on the radio today, all over the guy who has no angst about being gay. All the angst is about the fact that these two guys just can't seem to make it work. And one of them is an alcoholic.

Wai: Oh relationship issues..

So, tell us where we can listen to Queer Zone.

Mike: Oh, don't! We always screw up.

Wai: If we'd like to listen to you and laugh at you…

Mike and Esme [in unison]: Wellington Access Radio, 783 AM.

Esme: Monday, 3:30 until 5:00. It's Queer Zone. And you can also find various stuff about us on the website.

Mike: We're on Facebook, on Wellington Access Radio - Queer Zone ( http://www.accessradio.org.nz/queer_zone.html ), and we also have an email address that you can email us at.

Esme: Which is queeryouthonaccess@gmail.com , that's all lower case with no symbols, and that's queeryouthonaccess@gmail.com .

Mike: I'm Mike.

Esme: And I'm Esme.

Mike: Thank you for listening.

[laughter]

Mike: Stay cool, New Zealand!

Esme: Stay queer!

Transcript by cyberscrivener.com