Coming Out on air | radioinfo

Coming Out on air

Wednesday 04 March, 2015
Matt Newell (blue shorts) and partner

Today’s radio presenters are expected to bare all about their private lives, including their relationships with their partners. But not every member of an audience is comfortable to learn that their favourite radio host is gay.

In this article, Kim Napier tells the story of two of her close friends who “came out” on air.
 
Saturday March 7 is the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade in Sydney and as an official commercial partner hit 104.1 2Day FM will cover the event and for the first time enter a float. Described as the ultimate expression of love, the parade celebrates the power and beauty of diversity but even in 2015 ‘coming out’ is still a nerve racking experience.

Imagine hiding from who you are because of societal, cultural and sometimes legal restraints. Then imagine being a radio announcer aware that your life is often fodder for on air content but unsure if your listeners want to know or even how they would react if they knew your partner is Jack and your name is Matt.

That was the dilemma recently facing two young announcers, Matt Newell former MKR contestant and announcer at 100.9 Sea FM in Hobart and Jayson Shipston, Breakfast Presenter Sea FM Mackay.

Matt’s decision to “come out” on air was simple, his partner is a big part of his life and it was difficult not to reference him when sharing stories, “I think it should feel just as comfortable for me to talk about my partner as it is for a female announcer.”  There was no fanfare surrounding Matt’s revelation that he was gay, he mentioned it casually while chatting with the breakfast team. “I wanted to speak about my life and partner as openly as any person would talk about theirs.”

Jayson’s announcement about his sexuality was promoted by frustration, “We had Bob Katter (left with Jayson) on the Show who had said the idea of Same Sex Marriage needs to be ridiculed and as he continued on his bandwagon I remember saying, "Well Mr Katter you know you are talking to a gay man?”

Jayson was using his profile to stand up for those who “have had to live a lie.”

While initially worried about the reaction to his sexual orientation among his listeners, Jayson needn’t have been concerned, “I was stopped by a woman who said her son had battled with his sexuality and thanked me for making myself feel uncomfortable on air so others could feel comfortable within themselves.”  He also attracted a lot of Gay male attention which ended up compromising his relationship, “my partner couldn’t handle it.”

Matt described reaction to his same sex relationship as fairly positive but says “coming out” shouldn’t be an issue, “Your listeners want to know about you and your life and the positivity and support you receive far outweighs any negative reaction.”

While it shouldn’t be an issue to publicly share your sexual orientation homophobia still exists. However, as Matt quite rightly says “You’re susceptible to criticism every time you flick the microphone on.”

What is their advice to anyone planning to come out on air? Jayson says “be prepared” and make sure you are doing it for the right reasons, “This is your life, once you turn that microphone off you’re still a Gay person, don’t sell your sexuality for ratings”.

About the Author

For 15 years Kim Napier was the Kim part of the hugely successful Kim and Dave breakfast show on Hobart's Heart 107.3.

But with an on-air partner in Hobart and a husband in Adelaide things were starting to unravel.

Read more by and about Kim here.

 

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