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Wednesday 08 October 2008

Heath Jones - Mr. Urge NZ Bear 2008

Posted in: Hall of Fame
By - 25th April 2008

Urge bar's best bear 2008: Heath Jones
Seven manly men entered Urge bar's pageant - but there could only be one winner. We got to know New Zealand's Next Top Teddy a little better.

Congrats on your Urge NZ Bear win! What did you do onstage to win the contest?

To win, one takes part in a three-heat competition. First round is just questions (funny this should make me as nervous as it did!). Second round is called Bear Fantasy and you get to do a little show, or enact a fantasy onstage for all to enjoy. I came out dressed as a trucker, ripped off my shirt and pants to reveal the leather daddy bear beneath. It was a lot more fun than I thought and the crowd was really responsive. My partner was in the crowd and I had worked him into the routine also. This 'fantasy' was followed by another few questions and then we were onto round three. This was an awesome round; we were given raffle tickets and buckets in which to collect money. All the money taken went to the New Zealand AIDS Foundation and we managed to raise around 1,400 dollars. It was fun getting out and interacting with the crowd who had been watching the show.

What's your background, and where did you grow up?

Background? An Irish/Welsh combo. I lived on the North Shore, in Milford and Forrest Hill until I discovered the city and have lived on this side of the bridge ever since.

What kind of job do you do at the moment?

At the moment I am a lecturer at Unitec's School of Performing and Screen Arts and I co-ordinate a major of the Degree I teach on.

When did you come out as gay, and what was it like for you at the time?

I came out at age 19; though I knew from the time I was about 7 years old. The problem was I had been socialized to believe being gay was the lowest of the low and subsequently denied who I was till I knew differently (19yrs). I feel really grateful that at 19 I had a lot of supportive friends, some of whom were gay, and this created an environment in which I felt safe coming out. It was still a shock to some people (Amazingly enough!), Mum especially who wanted to know how I knew I was gay. All I could say was “well, how do you know you're straight?” Lame but true. My sister was amazing and said she thought it was ‘awesome'. That really floored me! Ultimately I don't have any regrets but looking back I wish I'd not been so fearful of coming out and had done it earlier.

What's your relationship status?

I have been with my partner Greg for eight years. We moved in together about six weeks after we met and have not been apart since.

Heath with runners up on the contest night
What do you think are the most pressing issues currently facing the NZ's gay community?

For me it's apathy. I went to Sydney Mardi Gras this year and it was huge and the whole city gets behind it. Compared to our Hero festival, which I barely attended, I felt a little embarrassed that I'd been so apathetic about it. And then events I did attend I felt were under patronized.

The Hero Festival is our opportunity to celebrate who we are and show young homo's that being gay is great and challenge homophobes ignorant fear of homosexuality. I had really lost touch with this idea. I plan to get involved where I can next year and make sure I contribute to this month of awesome events! It's feels as though it has become much easier/socially acceptable to be gay and I think so much easier to forget those who have put themselves on the line and suffered hardship so we can be out and proud.

What's your worst habit?

Hmmm… overeating. Ice cream, chocolate, biscuits, ice cream, chocolate etc…

Are there any books are you currently reading or recommending?

I'm reading a lot of plays at the moment looking for material for work. At the moment I am reading and re-reading a play called Summerfolk by Maxim Gorky. I'm directing this at Unitec with my second year students, it opens the 30th of May.

Your favourite music at the moment?

Well I'm listening to lots at the moment:

Sara Bareilles: Little Voice

Roisin Murphy: Overpowered

Ministry of Sound Mash Up 2008

Estelle: Shine

David Bowie: Best of Bowie

Seu Jorge: Samba Esporte Fino

Alicia Keyes: As I Am

Scriabin; Etudes

Your favourite movies?

There are so many:

The Celebration by Thomas Vinterburg

Thelma & Louise by Ridley Scott

Clue by Jonathan Lynn

Anything with naked men in it… LOL

Honestly the list is huge!

Your favourite TV programmes?

Oh… Heroes, Grey's Anatomy, So You Think You Can Dance, American Idol, Brothers and Sisters etc. Oh and Sensing Murder… WOW!

If you could have one wish granted what would it be?

World peace, no disease and 20 million dollars… can that be one wish?

Who are your LGBT heroes?

Quentin Crisp, k.d. lang, Ellen Degeneres, Sir Ian McKellan, Georgina Beyer and all my LGBT friends and whanau.

What's coming up in the near future for you?

Concentrating very much on my teaching this year, though my theatre company A Lethal Set is producing a new New Zealand play at The Basement (the old Silo theatre) and that opens in June. It's a fantastic script. - 25th April 2008