Growing up in Rotorua as a young ‘brown’ boy who didn’t really ‘fit in’ – at school for not acting like a ‘boy’, at home for wearing heels and work for being weird. Like most of us, coming out wasn’t easy for me especially coming from a strong cultural background and being surrounded by the associated fear, anxiety and societal pressure. However, it was much harder to figure out what societal box I fitted in and this unfortunately exposed me to a lot of bullying. The experience helped make me realise one important thing….that I had to believe in myself first, before expecting others to start believing in me. This meant embracing my authentic self and stop trying to ‘fit-in’
This wasn’t an overnight learning though, I had to slowly but consistently build on it and continue to do so to this very day. My experiences growing up contributed towards my desire to listen to the stories of others and look deeper into different behaviours. So I decided to pursue a career as a Registered Nurse, specialising in Mental Health.
Throughout my career, I have strived to be not only a strong leader but also an advocate for recognising, respecting and embracing diversity with an aim to help remove some of the barriers that put our community and our people in a ‘box’. I have been able to help build a stronger LGBTQ+ workforce within the health sector and advocating to remove limits of gender identity to just ‘male, female and other’ as part of the National Health Index (NHI).
We know that our LGBTQ+ community is overrepresented in the areas of homelessness, mental health including suicidal ideations and/or behaviour, substance abuse and sexual assault. We are also underrepresented at leadership and governance levels. This is partly due to our current society and the old structures/systems that were put in place and never took our people and community fully into account.
Our rainbow community has specific needs in the area of social and mental health as it is unfair and outdated to put people into ‘boxes’. To understand the diversity of our people is to understand the uniqueness of the issues they are facing. My lived experience of being put in a ‘box’ has lit a fire under me to strive to better meet the needs of our community.
Although it has been a long journey for our LGBTQ+ community, there is still a long way to go. I truly believe that in some aspects, we are leading the world with our progressive and engaged thought.
The Mr Gay NZ platform would allow my voice to be heard even louder. With the support of the LGBTQ+ community behind me, I will continue to not only advocate, but to take the lead in solving these very real issues. I would like to use this platform to be even more involved in our community and hear what it is that our people see as beneficial for their Hauora (well-being) and drive positive and affirmative change.
Last Updated on Feb 11, 2021