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Queer Nation's Steven Oates

Sat 19 Jul 2003 In: Hall of Fame

After four years of working with Rainbow Youth and hosting 95bfm's Sunday night gay radio show, Steven Oates is the latest addition to the Queer Nation presenting team. Who are you and what's your background? I'm a 27-year-old gay male, and I grew up in Taupo. I have one brother, who still lives in Taupo, but my parents and I now live in Auckland. When I was 18, I headed overseas for the first time, spending eighteen months in Spain and Europe before coming home to do a Bachelor of Arts at Auckland University. I have since lived or traveled in over 30 countries. I'm now doing a further degree in arts and design. At university, I became involved in student politics, being chair of the Student Representative Council, Cultural Affairs Officer, and I was also on the student exec. I was quite well known on campus because of this work, so when the "In The Pink" Sunday night gay show on 95bfm finished about four years ago, I was asked to take over producing and hosting, and the show became "Round The Bend". I've been on the Rainbow Youth board for the last four years, and have visited high schools as part of Rainbow Youth's sexuality and homophobia workshops, teaching students about what it means to be gay, and educating them about homophobia. How did you come to work for Queer Nation and what do you hope to achieve on the show? They were looking for a new male presenter and I'd been on the show several times before as an interviewee. They asked me if I was interested and to come in and have a chat. I ended up doing a screen test, along with several others. I was flattered and surprised to be asked. I hope I can bring a youth aspect to the show. Something the kids outside the Auckland scene can relate to. Maori and Pacific issues also need more exposure in the GLBT community. I also want to learn the whole proccess of making television. I'm lucky I get to do that and also tell stories I think need to be told. What characterises the NZ GLBT community for you? I'm not sure if there is anything in particular any longer. The need to feel a sense of community has become diminished, slowly, as legal and social stigmas for LGBT have lessened. I believe that's why Hero fell over - it was started as a way for us to be together, celebrate our victories, and also out of a need to collectively deal with HIV; with these issues fading into the background, the idea of community has become fragmented. What's the worst thing for you about being GLBT? Your chances of finding a partner are smaller because there are less GLBT people. Straight people have around 50% of the population available to choose from, we have much less. Also, despite wider community acceptance, it's still very hard for GLBT youth, and I think that both the straight and gay population don't realise just how hard. Discriminatory words are part of everyday language, it's still acceptable for kids to call each other "faggot", and to label anything undesirable or bad as "gay". What is the best thing? Coming to terms with your sexuality forces you to look at all aspects of yourself, your character, and the acceptance of all this can be a huge growth period, which can make for a more interesting person. Relationship status? Single. Food and drink I'm a vegetarian, but I do eat dairy products, so that means I can eat Milky Bars! I get cravings for green curry, and there's nothing like a grapefruit juice on a hot day. I don't drink alcohol. Worst habit? Over-committing myself. Most noble feature? Honesty...although I don't think that should be considered a special feature. It should be standard. Favourite TV show? I don't actually have one, I'm usually too busy to watch television. When I was growing up I was an outdoor person, so I didn't really watch a lot of television then either. Qualities you appreciate most in a GLBT person? Once again, honesty, because it is so rare. GLBT people are taught to lie from a very early age. What are you reading at the moment? Ruahine by Ngahuia Te Awekotuku. It's a book of Maori stories retold from a contemporary feminist perspective. Who in the world, including NZ, would you most like to have coffee and a chat with? Tana Umaga. Role models? My mother. What is the most pressing issue facing the NZ GLBT community? We need to stop being so self-destructive, and learn to look beyond "the scene". Some people believe that the scene is all there is, but it only represents a small part of the GLBT population. I believe the scene is a lot less welcoming now than it was even 10 years ago, when I was coming out. If you could have one wish granted then what would it be? That everyone, regardless of sexuality, would look after their own wellbeing a bit more. And watch Queer Nation! - 19th July 2003


First published: Saturday, 19th July 2003 - 12:00pm

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