Harry Bain homophobic festival slur rhythm and vines
4 min read

Homophobic abuse has been exposed at one of New Zealand’s biggest New Year’s Eve Festivals as a gay patron was threatened and asked, “What the f#%k are you wearing”.

Globally known as the first festival in the world to welcome the first sunrise of the new year, Rhythm & Vines is a three-day music festival held in Gisborne, New Zealand.

On the first day of the festival, one of the patrons Harry Bain was walking through the crowd when he was verbally abused by two males who decided it was their duty to expose the festival’s homophobic underbelly and step towards Bain and scream, “Mate, what the f#%k are you wearing” while pointing and the clothes he was wearing.


Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first, and wouldn’t be the last of the abuse during the weekend with another man yelling later on in the night “Are you a girl or a guy?” and another continually yelling at him, saying he was gay.

Bain, 23, a former New Zealand Ice Skating Champion and a regular at festivals across the country, would usually not let this sort of thing worry him, but eventually, he took to social media platform TikTok, telling his story (without showing the footage that Gay Nation has seen) with his post amassing more than 130k views with overwhelming support for Bain bringing the homophobia to light.

Speaking on TikTok, Bain commented he was just not prepared for the amount of homophobic slurs and looks that he got at Rhythm & Vines.

“Like I was wearing a pink tank top and little shorts and some running shoes, probably looked like I was going to the gym, but I just wasn’t ready for that,” Harry said on TikTok.

Harry Bain (right) with friends at Rhythm and Vines Festival. (TikTok)
Harry Bain (right) with friends at Rhythm and Vines Festival. (TikTok)

“At Hidden Valley, it was really fun, but last night(the first night of the festival) I was on my own a bit more and this guy legit said mate we are at R&V what the fuck are you wearing. Does it really f#%king matter?”

Harry went on to further explain that throughout the day every time he looked over his shoulder, he could see males shaking their heads with disgusting looks at what he was wearing.

“I just wonder what happened to our generation, I thought this was supposed to be liberal and more accepting. And normally I don’t give a f#%k, I can take a lot of shit, it takes a lot to offend me, I’ve been called every single name under the sun, but when it happens again and again and again and again eventually it gets to the point where I kind of struggle to take it.”

@harry_bainnz My little #rnv rant #bekind ♬ original sound – Harry Bain

Following his TikTok, comments overflowed with support including a response from Rhythm & Vines itself apologising for the incidents and supporting his decision to come back in the following evening.

But others suggested the festival needed to do more.

“Ya’ll need a stronger code of conduct and policy in place for this type of thing. All your staff and volunteers need ally training and a zero tolerance to this sort of thing,” one commenter suggested.

Another said, “Fifth video I’ve seen this year about abuse, harassment and s*xual assault. time ya’ll did something tbh.”

Of course, some thought homophobic abuse was still ok.

“It’s fair game,” wrote one commenter, “bullying needs to be brought back. To[o] many gays now.”

And this, “You can not insist a festival goes woke. Festivals are extreme places. We all know that.”

In a statement, Tairawhiti Police praised crowds after the three-day Rhythm and Vines saying there were no arrests and Police got to mingle with the crowds and soak up the positive, fun-filled atmosphere.

“We are not immediately aware of this incident, but nobody should be made to feel unsafe at any time,” said New Zealand Police said in a statement.

“If the person has not yet made a Police report, we would encourage them to do so, either by calling 105, or filling out a report online at 105.police.govt.nz.

“We would also encourage anyone else who experienced issues at the festival to please make a report so we can follow up with them.”

“Rhythm and Vines does not tolerate any forms of homophobic behaviour.” – Rhythm and Vines Spokesperson

A spokesperson from Rhythm and Vines said they do not tolerate any forms of homophobic behaviour.

“We want all festival-goers to feel safe and enjoy their time at Waiohika Estate,” the Rhythm and Vines spokesperson said.

“When incidents of bullying or other unwanted behaviour occur, the incidents are dealt with. All reported incidents are logged and taken seriously as was the case with this incident. Additionally a helpline is set up each year which all attendees can contact if they feel unsafe.

“Immediately after we became aware of this incident, we reached out to the young man affected and ensured he was ok and asked if there was anything the Rhythm and Vines team could do.

“Rhythm and Vines is committed to becoming one of the safest places in the world to celebrate the New Year. We are dedicated to fostering an inclusive festival environment that safeguards the mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing of all involved.

“Once a full festival debrief is complete we will be able to comment further.”

In a follow-up TikTok, Bain thanked everyone who commented and spread kindness and who came up to him at R&V and said they loved his outfit.

“I got so many amazing comments on New Year’s Eve especially and even from a lot of straight guys that came up to me and said hey bro we saw your video and we just wanted to say we support you and f#%k the homophobes and I really value and appreciate that. It was so nice to hear,” Bain said.

Although the issue is an outlier at Rhythm and Vines, Bain said he doesn’t want to blame the festival for what happened from a few individuals.

“It’s not R&V’s fault at all, R&V is an amazing festival, it’s just like a small percentage of wackos that are homophobes and the rest of the people are honestly amazing.”

Last Updated on Jan 4, 2024

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