We met Nick through a friend of ours. We'd heard he'd been recently crowned Mr Gay NZ and was going to be representing New Zealand in the world competition. When I asked Nick what it took to win, I expected to receive what I imagined as a standard answer from pageant-contenders; "ohh, um, world peace?" What I discovered was a personality that resonated so strongly with the Sweepstake Winners brand that it was a match made in heaven. Humble, thoughtful and articulate, Nick's approach is somewhere been social activism with a message of radical acceptance. With World Pride Month coming to a close, I sat down with Nick to explore and discuss the world as he sees it. Read on.
What does pride mean to you?
Pride to me means more than a celebration of LGBTQIA+ sexuality, it's becoming the spaces where people are questioning how they are policed, the way they are managed and the way they are allowed to be who they are in society.
Why is it important?
Pride brings together not often seeing communities, bringing them into the light and then inviting more in-depth conversations on what it takes to validate these communities acrosses the world.
It is important as its a way to desensitise society and break stigmas that have been taught over generations, it is a way for the younger generation to remember the struggles that our brothers and sister fought for the freedoms we enjoy today.
How do you express pride in your everyday life?
I believe in being vocal and open in my day to day life about my sexuality and how I hold myself as an openly gay Pacific man. I believe in having an open dialogue with people if they have questions about how I live my life. I am also very passionate about diversity in the workplace and make sure I'm in a company that supports who I am and also other fellow coworkers that are LGBTQIA+.
What’s the biggest struggle you’ve overcome?
My biggest struggle that I have overcome but continue to battle time to time, would be depression. It is somewhat a trend that as a male in New Zealand we are raised with this ideology, "she'll be right" and not acknowledge our own mental wellbeing and left unchecked would lead to dire consequences. I am lucky enough to have the tools and facilities that allow me to get the help I need to find ways on how to cope and live my life in check. The first step is talking about it and talking to someone you trust and knowing where to find the support you need.
How has that become an important part of who you are today?
It has made me a great living example that mental illness can be overcome and with my own personal battles, I want to help others. I am an advocate for awareness of mental health and suicide. I want to open the dialogue with more people in the LGBTQIA+ community as we statistically are known to suffer from mental health. The suicide rate in New Zealand is one of the highest in the world in our younger generation, but we are seeing a shift in regards to our government investing more in those sectors to give more support and save our peoples lives.
This is definitely are part of who I am today as I want to leave a legacy for the next generation to pick up and continue to fight the never-ending battle.
What’s been the most rewarding part of your journey?
The people, seeing how many people out there fighting and supporting the community behind the scenes is amazing. These unsung heroes have been moving us forward and lifting our community to higher places. The reward is seeing these groups and individuals spreading the message of awareness and educating our own people in the LGBTQIA+ community as well as society itself.
Who do you look up to?
My heroes would be first and foremost my mum and dad, they have taught me how to be my true self and never be apologetic for what I stand for and how I hold myself. They have taught me to always to remain humble but stand proud and strong.
My other heroes would be the many people that fought for my right to be myself, my right to love whoever and marry anyone I want. Those individuals that fought hard for our freedoms we celebrate now in our LGBTQIA+ community I acknowledge and still hold them in very high regard.
In a society that’s becoming more and more polarised and divided, what’s your message for young people who may be struggling with their feelings?
My best advice would be, surround yourself with people that will lift you back up when you fall, as you would do the same for them. In some cases, it may not be your family but have a circle of friends that will be that for you. Your feelings and thoughts are valid never let anyone tell you they aren't. We live in a time where social media dominates our lives and we are influenced by the glamour of a filtered perspective. Always live in this world and not in the digital, as you can get lost and confused about what is the reality we live in and what has been edited. Live a life you would be proud of.
What is small one thing you think people could do to make a big difference to the world we live in?
Be Kind. It's free, its a resource that never runs out, never gets old and is worth more than anything in this world. The best way to combat hate in the world is kindness.