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Gareth Watkins on Queer Radio Brisbane

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[00:00:00] Welcome to queer radio, Gareth Watkins. Thank you all the way from Wellington. Have you been [00:00:06] very busy, very busy. I've just been actually starting on a new documentary looking at the art of drag and drag queens. Just interviewed chap last night who is 21 has been doing drag for three years. And I've got another interview coming up in a couple of days time with a chap that's been doing drag for 40 years. So fascinating stuff. [00:00:30] We actually did talk affortable said on the subject in I was over the Easter weekend, soon after that. And yeah, it's there are some concepts out there that needs to be corrected. In terms of some people really don't know what to make of drag for some other people. It's a way of accepting the gay community. [00:00:48] What were the concepts that needed to be corrected? [00:00:52] I was thinking that's that it's anything less than a professional thing, perhaps at times to do. So like, we spoke to a Twix in Vermont, who's a performer. She's a transgender drag artist at the BT nightclub here. And she was saying that it's a perfectly respectable way for young people to actually work. So there are especially young people who are aware that they have a transgender identity. And this can be a way of doing genuine work, but entertaining, rewarding, well accepted. With some other people think that it's just a matter of people putting on a frog and looking silly and dancing down the street during Mardi Gras. It doesn't have to be like that. [00:01:37] No, no. Well, the young chap that I was talking to the other night, his mother kind of looked to them a bit. Strangely, when when he told her that he was doing a hack. And then of course, he told me how much money he was getting from each show for paid all the concerns that was like, Yeah, go for it. The same champ has been gay bashed three times. But in the straight closing, it can be straight clothing. But he's never been attacked at all when he's been dragged. But it's been when you've just been walking down the street itself, and normal clothing, which is another fascinating kind of aspect to the whole thing as well. [00:02:17] That's it right is often wonder at times, I was cycling away from the World AIDS Day, like the candlelight vigil, it was actually this year, and we just packed everything up, I was the host for the event here. And as I'm cycling away, I could swear that somebody just like mattered fact that as I as I cycled past them, and it's hard to tell times whether you're being paranoid. [00:02:41] That's the big thing. That's the big thing that I find with interviewing gay guys as well, is that how much of that homophobia is actually within themselves? And how much is coming from outside? I have a feeling that a lot of it is, is inside each of us. That we because we don't see images of ourselves acceptable images of ourselves really and kind of mainstream media, because we don't see that every day. We feel isolated. And alone. And, and I think that breeds a wee bit of paranoia. Like yes, I know that if I can, you know, when I'm walking down down the street, I can. I can feel like I'm standing out even though there's nothing kind of outwardly different about me. But I do find that I get these kind of paranoid feelings that yes, I am being watched and and talked about. I think sometimes that may be true. But often, I think it's maybe my own personality, my own kind of self doing that to myself. And one of the really neat things about doing these recordings, is I've found that other people are just like that as well. So that, you know, it's a bit of relief for me. It's not just me that's kind of going a bit kind of around the [00:04:14] world. You actually work for national radio in New Zealand, the version of Australia's Radio National. And how long have you been working with them for [00:04:22] well on and off for about nine years now? [00:04:26] Fine. So did you do an apprenticeship, [00:04:28] nine I went straight from school. I was luckily one of the last intakes of I was in one of the last intakes of technicians that they took on, and then they had a kind of a training. Basically, it was on the job training. I mean, you had a bit of kind of theory taught to you but but really, this is this is the tape machine. This is the computer this is what we do and here's how you do it. And so it kind of started off doing operating which is pushing all the The buttons and making sure the technical technical equipment works fine. Doing that live on here for for like a talk, talkback kind of show type thing. Then moving into recording interviews, music and speech compilation, documentary making. And that kind of gave me a really firm footing and the kind of technical aspects of radio and sound recording. [00:05:25] And so now what you specialise in is spoken word recording. So you've been contacted us through email, and offered us copies of CDs of recordings that you've done, of people's speaking about things like one recent recording, was of two men who are radio personalities talking about how they've dealt with the fact that they are gay, that they're involved in radio, but they weren't necessarily happy about speaking out as gay men. [00:05:53] And yes, I think one of I have a feeling it's a generational thing. Now these two guys were, well are in the 50s. That kind of area, anything around the gay issue, kind of thing is is not really talked about in this country. for that age group. I don't think we had Law Reform here in 8586. Prior to that, it was illegal. So when when these guys were growing up, it just wasn't an option. You just were not gay. The sense of the word that as is now. And so when they were growing up, and when the first jobs and broadcasting I mean, both of them have been in broadcasting for 30 or 40 years. It just wasn't mentioned. And so I guess, you can really understand why they didn't push that. Even when they had the chance of maybe, kind of de stigmatising it. They just felt that they just didn't feel the need to talk about it. [00:07:05] One man says, When law reform came through even that, it seemed like, Well, now that we've got this, let's not make too much of a fuss about it. Because people think that we've got a special right, rather than do something we should have always said. [00:07:20] I don't know what it's like over there in Britain, but in this country in New Zealand at the moment, I think quite a strong feeling of wanting to assimilate with mainstream culture. You find I've found a lot of gaming, just not wanting to be out there. They just want to live happily in the suburbs, and do normal, what you'd say heterosexual things like, buy a house, settle down, and have a nice life. Thank you very much. I have a feeling that some of that kind of activism, that was so apparent, especially around law reform, and prior to that, that that kind of activism, activist spirit has gone a wee bit. And I'm not sure if that's good or bad. But it does seem to be kind of dribbling away somewhere. [00:08:22] Yeah, there's not an increasing number of people necessarily attending political events here, like the Pride festival, it gets marginally bigger each year, but it's still, it's not in proportion to the number of people that there are who must be exclusively homosexual in Brisbane. So there are a lot of people very keen to just sit back and let one or two people especially do lots of work. And then think, Oh, well, that's good, more, we get some benefit. But if those couple of people really didn't take some risks, then there would be no benefits coming through. [00:08:54] I have a feeling that maybe that that's always been the case. Set here I am contradicting myself, because here, I talked to a number of guys that younger guys that say Oh, yes. Look at the good old days when everyone was active, and everyone was proactive about you know, pushing homosexuality forward and saying yes, it's okay. We're talking about like in the law reform days, you know, 8586. But then speaking to guys that are around about 30 or 40, who were active around that time, they were saying that they told me that, that not everyone was like that, that there are large numbers of gay people that just stayed inside and didn't want to know. We're quite happy not to, you know, kind of be out there pushing for it. [00:09:49] America there's an excellent programme called Chasing the rainbow. And this particular programme about youth in America and how some Using things Massachusetts, they lobbied the local state to put through a law that would protect students against discrimination on all bases by including, like, race, religion, like gender, and sexual orientation, and the students themselves. So the youth had to actually lobby to do this, because they were getting support from the older members of the community began this new community, but they said, What worries me the most was there were lots of gay and lesbian students who said to them, Look, it's just part of life, you have to accept that you're gonna get harassed. That happens at school, you survive it, you can with your life. But unfortunately, not some people aren't going to survive the harassment. And I think this is why there needs to be some visibility. [00:10:49] What's the school system like in Bristol for that? [00:10:53] In that respect, there is no legal protection, there would be a recommendation for people to adopt, like appropriate courses that support students. But still, like family planning Queensland, at the moment, they've got a couple of workshops that they've organised, the second one will be starting shortly, encouraging teachers and principals and such educators to come and get a bigger understanding about what happens as far as discrimination goes, especially homophobia within a school, and how to act to prevent it from being a problem in the first place. But it's not compulsory. And I think it'll take quite some time before many schools decide to pick up on that sort. Of course. As we're saying that the school that I used to go through where I interview the principal, just yesterday, he was saying that it's a case of that as we have human relationships, education is the subject. So what he does during religious instruction, is he'll mentioned some supportive things about relationships. But he doesn't mention same sex relationships. And it's, it's a shame, because you need to be aware, more often that there really is quite likely to be students in your class who are gay. And it may take them a few years to realise it. But and so this, the support has to come before the awareness. I think [00:12:19] that's why Yeah, visibility in school, but also in, in the media, it's so important to not only just see the stereotypical kind of candy images, or the the sitcoms that are so prevalent, you know, from the US with, with gay characters on them, but just to see normal, gay people talking about normal gay things. And, I mean, I do think that, that the gay lifestyle has difficulties associated with it, that don't crop up in just straight relationships. Or forged straight individuals. And I think those have to be talked about, and they have to be seen in public. To educate, to solidify, I guess, I find that one of the main reasons why I'm doing these, these sound documentaries is that, at the end of it, I find, I feel a bit more valid as a person. And I know that I suppose this is a selfish thing on my part, that I am doing stuff to make me feel better. Hopefully, at the end of the day, it's making other people feel better, because they can relate to some of the things that some of the guys are saying. It's all about being able to see yourself or hear yourself back and say, Actually, it's not just me, there are other people like me, feeling the same, feeling the same things, going through the same experiences. And willing to share that I find that there aren't many places where gay guys can just share their thoughts about things in a safe way. I mean, you don't do that. On the gay scene. I mean, you're going up to pick up joints to pick someone up. It's not about kind of having a deep and meaningful conversation. And I don't think there are many places where guys can just talk. So that's one of the neat things about the the sound documentaries. Is that with radio, you're talking on a one to one basis, even though you're broadcasting tapes, 10 20,000 people 100,000 People but you're being very intimate on the other end, where it's just one listener, and a voice coming through the speaker. And so I think it can be very intimate. And you can talk about things that that you don't often get a chance to talk about. [00:15:16] Who do you think should be represented in the styles of documentation that you're doing? Who do I think should be represented? Because a temptation might be discouraging people who are prominent, for example, [00:15:27] I like ordinary people, and I say ordinary people in quotation marks, because I mean, everyone is completely extraordinary. And they will have different things that they bring to life. And everyone's story is different. I think I have got the most amazing stories out of people that you just, you know, that they don't have the high high profile jobs that you know, that aren't maybe the greatest speakers or aren't out there all the time. To me, that's where the most exciting stories lie. It's not about facts and figures, the documentaries that I'm doing, it's not about facts and figures, it's about personal experiences and trying to get a feeling for for a subject. It's, it's quite an organic way of programme making, I guess. And that I do the interviews and they're quite prolonged interviews, I mean, that they would go on for about an hour on each interview. And from that, the kind of the shape of the documentary, which 10 turns into about a half hour piece, kind of shapes from the head. It's quite organic. [00:16:54] You're saying that in sofa, national radio in New Zealand, there's really no programming that's geared towards gaming lesbians, because they consider like nice programming is a problem because everyone will want a piece of the pie. But how a gay voice is then being represented in mainstream media, in New Zealand. [00:17:15] In radio, there are no weekly programmes at all. There is no news. Sorry, I have to qualify that. Public Radio in for national radio where I work if there are no gay weekly programmes, there are weekly programmes on community access stations, which target very small areas, like there'll be an access station in Wellington, one in Auckland, and Christchurch. And they have their own audiences. And they generally have like an hour or two a week, which is fantastic. So at least there is some gaming content going on there. But as a national broadcaster, national radio doesn't do anything like that. There is no news agency. In the in the radio area of putting out gay news, we do have a weekly, National Gay newspaper that comes out, and also a month, a monthly one as well. And in TV, we've got a half hour show called queer nation, which is great. That happens every week. Although it gets broadcast something like about 1130 at night, on on a Friday night, so it's fantastic that they're making it it's the programmers, that you have to actually question why you know why they're putting it on so late, especially when it's basically general information, education content, [00:18:58] especially if the community television is something like pretty steady one here where you've got like the butcher's show on several times during the day. Sure. [00:19:08] Unfortunately, television isn't a big thing. In New Zealand, we have two state channels and commercial channel as well. The two state channels completely driven by money, nothing at all, like SBS over in Australia, they're basically commercially driven. And so if you can't pull for ratings, or if you can't pull the audience thing, then basically you don't get on here while stretching [00:19:35] here, but there's a programme presented by drag queen tomorrow tonight, here and but that actually pulls something like 20% of the viewing audience, when it's on there on a Tuesday night and then repeated on a Saturday. So it says style of programme can perform really well. [00:19:53] What kind of content is on the programme? [00:19:55] It's more like Telly shopping, or infomercial but It does have some community support as well. And Tamara has actually nominated for Lord Mayor and the upcoming state elections or sorry, Brisbane City Council elections, which be quite good. Because, like, she's a very intelligent together strong person. So I don't know if she'll become Lord me, but she'll give the media a shake. And people have taken this seriously that no one's making fun of her [00:20:28] fantastic. We've actually got two transsexual mirrors, in New Zealand woman, the white rapper, which is just about half an hour's drive from Wellington, and also one down south, and it is just the most wonderful thing to see them on TV campaigning, and just being out there, not being out there as a transsexual mayor, but as, as a very intelligent, or as a to very intelligent means. It's just wonderful to see and, and it's a secondary plus that they are transsexual, and are achieving, achieving great things, and also are looking out for, you know, the gay, lesbian, transgender, by communities. I just think it's such a valuable thing to do, not only for future generations, but for for the interviewer for for me, and for you as well. Or whoever is doing it, that you open yourself up to new ideas, new ways of thinking about things. I think you become, well, I hope we become less judgmental, once we actually sit down and start talking to people about things and less dismissive of situations. I know that what's happened with me, I think, I think I've become a lot more open to all different types of people. And I think that's a great thing. [00:22:06] Well guess you do have a website that people can access to get samples of the work that you've done, and listen to the work you've done as well. I haven't actually looked at the site, but this is stated on your CDs. So how do people actually find that website? [00:22:18] Sure. The website address is http, colon, backslash, backslash, www dot free speech, all one backslash Garrett. That site contains most of the documentaries in a real audio format, so you can actually hear them in their entirety, live on the internet at any time. You can also download them and listen to them. They're all freely available for educational use or for broadcast, basically, to sites there to get the sound out to as many people as possible and to enable people just to maybe hear themselves, I guess. [00:23:06] Okay, well looks after yourself. Okay, thank you.

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