Nick is the Case and Outreach Manager for the Camden LGBT Forum and is heavily involved with Camden-Islington History Month. He would love to visit the 1960s and used to think Thailand was called Toyland.
Where are you from originally?
I’m from Belfast originally, with an East London Dad. I’ve been in London over 30 years so it’s well and truly home now.
Where do you live now?
I’m a Camden boy for 25 years. And I live with Alfie, my chameleon, and an ever growing population of mourning geckos.
What do you love about London and why?
Like the Samuel Johnson quote, “when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life”. London has so much life to offer, but I particularly love its diversity and acceptance. The confident and proud visibility of LGBT+ people is amazing.
What was the first gay venue you visited?
Ha…. that’s going back some. The Crows Nest in Belfast, circa 1986. Business type pub during the day, gay of an evening and weekends. Walking in there, terrified, but this huge sense of “coming home” at seeing guys kissing and just being who they are.
How would you describe Camden-Islington History Month?
In a word, “big”. For quite a few years now, Camden LGBT Forum, working in Camden and Islington, has facilitated the biggest programme of LGBT History Month events, either directly or in partnership with other agencies. Check out the events on the Forum website. Guaranteed to find something of interest.
And what is your role?
I’m the “Case and Outreach Manager”, working with victims of LGBT hate crime and supporting our more vulnerable and isolated clients. I also work with other services to help them become more LGBT+ aware and welcoming.
What was the last theatre show you saw, where, and what did you think of it?
Kinky Boots. Great show. All you need is drag queen fabulousness to solve all your problems.
What is your guilty pleasure and why?
Is it sad I can’t think of a secret vice? I’ve got vices, but I’m one of life’s over-sharers so everybody knows my dodgy secrets.
My car, a ruby red Nissan Juke which I love. I have some mobility issues these days and a lot of ground to cover in Camden and Islington with work, especially at this time of year with all the varied events we’re putting on for History Month. So it’s not a total luxury. Plus I just love driving in London and exploring.
Best gift you’ve ever received and why?
A few years back I was bought a top of the range all singing all dancing smart TV, not long after they were launched. Unfortunately the guy who gave it to me did so after I’d long protested I didn’t want any presents. So he gave it to me with a “so now you have to go out with me”. I didn’t see him again.
What has been the highlight of your career so far and why?
When I qualified as a nurse years ago, first in my class, and then received my diploma, first up on stage of over 100 students. My mum had flown over from Belfast so was quite a proud moment.
If you could go back in time which year would you choose and why?
1960s London. It was a decade of huge civil change. Some very dark times but also very positive times. I work a lot with older LGBT people, and some of the stories I’ve heard about the camaraderie of the “gay” community back then, fighting just to be equal and not locked up because of who you love. It’s truly fantastic that we’ve come so far, with the UK being the world leader in LGBT protective legislation. However I think these days we take it all too easy, too much for granted. Not only does half the world still punish LGBT people, but rights can be taken away. That’s why History Month is so important. Not to forget where we came from and how we got here and that the road to full equality goes on.
What’s the best party you’ve ever been to and what made it so good?
Certainly my most memorable was a Pride party in New York years ago at one of the big club venues. The clubs love competing, who’s got the best entertainment, the best live public appearances. But this night, the lights dimmed in the main dance hall to the sounds of Brain Bug’s “Nightmare”, and the lights went up on stage to a full black tie orchestra playing the instrumental opening. Absolutely awesome.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Breathe. I may possibly have a wee tendency to rush in without thinking. So “breathe and count to 10” is good advice in most situations.
Who is your LGBT+ hero and why?
Quentin Crisp, stately homo. He stood up, despite the constant knocks, and proudly declared “this is who I am”. I am in awe of his courage and refusal to be beaten. It’s sad that too many people have to hide a part of themselves because of fear of judgment or worse. We should all be free to celebrate our difference and be accepted.
Where in the world would you like to visit before you die and why?
Thailand. I’m getting more spiritual as I get older. Though as a kid, a friend used to go every Christmas and come back with loads of presents so I always thought it was “Toyland”.
What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?
That I’m fine the way I am. Growing up gay, particularly then, not fitting in at home or school, is horrendous for a kid. Hiding that secret because everywhere I looked I saw messages saying it was wrong. I wish I knew then that I’m fantastic just the way I am.”