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Wednesday 14 April 2010

Mike Puru: "I didn't want to pretend anymore"

Posted in: True Stories
By Matt Akersten - 28th January 2010

Monday was a big day for The Edge FM Morning Madhouse radio host Mike Puru.

Mike Puru
His live on-air 'coming out' sent shockwaves through Auckland, resulting in a massive power cut affecting thousands of homes and businesses across the city. Well, OK, we exaggerate, but it was certainly a pivotal moment for Mike, who now admits he'd feared a negative reaction from his listeners.

"Yes... I am gay," he'd said on the nationwide show. "Sorry if it comes as a bit of a surprise... but I just thought that to make life easier for everyone, we should be honest, open, and just get it out there."

Now reflecting on his life-changing week, Mike tells why he decided to come out, and shares highlights and lowlights from the "amazing" reaction he's had... Hello, Mike. So how has the response to your coming out been in general? Have there been any amazingly good or bad responses?


Mike Puru: It's been 99.99% positive. I spotted one negative text to work - one of those "God made Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve" texts - "Disgusting so you just lost a listener". But my boss said we don't need those people listening anyway. I was actually expecting more like that.

The reaction's been amazing really. The video's been watched 80,000 times. Amazing. Most people already knew or "heard the rumours". I was stoked to hear from old Gore school mates and even teachers and ex chaplains of the catholic school I went to.

The best email was: "If I ever needed to come out to 400 thousand people I'm coming to you for advice."

And my sister texted during the power cut: "Wow - you have no power in Auckland ha ha btw good work this morning."

What made you come out on that particular day?

The Friday before, we were trying to talk about my partner's dog being put down - telling the story "they said" instead of "he said". I was asked "how long did he, oops I mean they have the dog for," and so on. It just got awkward.

The time was right. I didn't need a drum roll, a big build up, or a billboard. I didn't want to shove it down people's throats... oh, bad choice of words?! (laughs)

It just felt right to say it and move on. The timing was right. It didn't need to be a big deal and it worked fine.

Were you worried about what your listeners would think of you if you revealed you were gay?

I did worry. In particular I worried about the male listeners, some of who have listened for the fourteen years I have been on radio. Would they treat me differently, would they still come and chat if they seen me at a bar, would they get nervous at the urinal, or would they feel deceived?

So far nothing bad has happened at all.

What would you say to other Kiwi celebs, or folks in general, about coming out?

Choose your time. You know when it's right. It's no big deal really; you'll be surprised how many people don't care. All they care about is whether you're a good person and happy.

I only came out because a good radio DJ is a real person - I didn't want to pretend anymore. If you feel you never have to "come out" then don't - as long as your friends and family know who you are - other people don't really care.

You mentioned you had a partner. How long have you been together, and what did he think of your whirlwind day on Monday?

Regan and I have been together for a number of years now - just about a lifetime in gay terms! We have a house, wonderful families and careers. Regan is amazing dude. He was more concerned about choosing a colour of paint for the house that day. But in all seriousness, he encouraged me, and always is supportive. We were both ready.


On the video below: Mike Puru comes out in the live Morning Madhouse broadcast.

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Matt Akersten - 28th January 2010