He probably still looks good naked, but to be honest it was the naked truth we were after as
Gok Wan tells us about his gay
When I first knew...
When I first knew I was gay or when I first knew I was fabulous? I didn’t know I was gay, but I was attracted to Mr Leavesley at primary school. He used to put his thumbs in the belt loops of his trousers and there was a real moment of admiration for him. Obviously, I wasn’t sexually developed back then, but yeah definitely – five years old, belt loops, Mr Leavesley.
My coming out moment… It was with my sister in her flat in Hendon. I had long bobbed hair – ‘cos I was a bit of a raver – and I was wearing a tartan waistcoat that I’d bought from one of the souvenir shops on Oxford Street, I don’t know why. I told my sister and her response was completely underwhelming. She just said, “Like I didn’t know!”
The campest thing I’ve ever done… Everything! I’m a completely happy camp person. I’m very happy with my campness. Everything I do has an edge of camp.
I’m very proud of that, ‘cos it’s taken years to develop. It takes a lot of effort and a lot of energy. I can’t stand camp-phobia, I hate it! It gets on my tits!
My first gay club/pub… Oh my God. It was called
The Pineapple in Leicester and I went in to nick all the free gay mags. In Leicester there was Streetlife the club, there was The Pineapple, and there was the Dover Castle. They didn’t like lights in The Pineapple. Not even a red one – it was just a blackout. I went down one Sunday and I remember walking in – I was about
15, but I was tall and fat so I looked like an adult. I was desperate to get a hold of gay press, because I’d heard that there were magazines that had pictures of half naked men in and they would tell me how to be gay. That was my first experience. I went in, got the magazine, left and cried. It was Boyz or QX or one of those.
My first gay kiss… I’m trying to work out what you would call a kiss! It was when I was in school. It was with my best friend’s boyfriend. That’s a story for another time that you’ll all want to hear.
When I lost my virginity… Next! We’ll move on from that one. No one needs to know about that!
My gay record would be… Anything by Kym Mazelle, or Ultra Naté, or Jocelyn Brown. There isn’t a single one because I love music so much. It would be any of the big female gay club vocalists, though. In fact, all of them put on the same CD. I know I’m camp, but I’m not into camp music that much. When I DJ, I DJ deep house – like Vauxhall house. I get booked and people think I’m gonna rock up and put Whitney and Kylie on. I can’t bear that kind of music. I love Kylie, but the music just isn’t my kind of thing.
The gay film you must watch is… Beautiful Thing by Jonathan Harvey. The most prolific and powerful story I think ever told in the gay community. Or Holding the Man, but I prefer the book to the film.
What advice I’d give my teenage self… Stop fucking worrying. You’re gonna get to an age soon where you’ll think, ‘This is all a massive bag of shit.’ What being gay means to me now… It’s about being completely proud of who I am. It changes daily, actually. Today is about being proud, tomorrow might be about being an activist, the next day might be about being camp. But today is about being proud. My thoughts on love and marriage are… I wish I had both.
The TV show that changed my gay world… Probably Queer as Folk, actually. I was a lot older when that came out, so it wasn’t a coming out moment for me, but I remember one of the first scenes in the first episode where, basically, they’re having sex. I was with my best friend at the time with the most horrific hangover and we sat on her bed eating pizza. I love pizza, but I didn’t eat any while watching. The scene started, and I just held the slice for an hour because I was so liberated that what I knew and had experienced was suddenly on the television. For me, it was a really powerful moment.
On a Sunday afternoon you’ll find me… In my kitchen, DJING with all my mates. We have a party every Sunday.
My gay hero is… Ben Summerskill. I think that what he did for the LGBT+ community was just incredible and selfless. I think he was an absolute tour de force and the most inspirational speaker I’ve ever experienced in my entire life. And he’s funny! He’s a dear friend of mine and he’s amazing. He used to run Stonewall before Ruth Hunt. He was the one doing all the equal age of consent and marriage stuff. He did so much for all of us.
ABOVE FREE BY ULTRA
ABOVE QUEER AS FOLK (OBVIOUSLY) BELOW HOLDING THE MAN – THE BOOK, NOT
THE FILM Gok tours the UK with his one-man show Naked and Baring All from 30 October to 27 November, stopping off in Leeds, London, Liverpool and Glasgow, among others. Visit gokwan.com for tickets