Online Exclusive! Interview with Graeme Smith
Graeme Smith, a notable gay figure in the world of radio and television, is a British TV present who at the moment works for Current TV. He will host the entertaining and potentially controversial program This Is Gonna Sound A Bit Gay which hits our screen on 2 July.
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The program looks at the history of gay people but also explores contemporary areas of gay culture such as the website Gaydar. The documentary even includes a moving scene in which Graeme interviews his mother who cries discussing her experiences and emotions in finding out that her son was gay.
The 26-year-old presenter, who once modelled as a pin-up for ladies’ mag More, has worked as a presenter since he left school aged 16, primarily for Juice FM in Liverpool, and then a long spell at Galaxy FM. Now a popular TV personality, and certainly on the rise, GT quizzed the Liverpudlian hunk about his upcoming show…
How did you come to present This Is Gonna Sound A Bit Gay?
It came around about 18 months ago. My boss announced that he wanted to make a show for the gay community so I just braved the idea and it worked. It was a show that I really wanted to do, but I didn’t want it to be shock value. The program will be honest and informative as well as entertaining. It should hopefully make some people feel more comfortable with their sexuality too.
So the program isn’t so much about educating the straight community?
It works on two levels. The history of gay rights isn’t hammered home, but the program focuses on the fact that people have always been gay, always will be, and that it’s just ridiculous to have a problem with people being gay, and it then highlights areas of the world where homophobic attitudes are still widespread.
Are you worried about being typecast as a gay presenter?
Nobody wants to be typecast, but if someone is small minded enough to see a gay presenter as being limited to gay shows then I wouldn’t want to work for that person. Lots of gay people work in television, they’re not all flambuoyant. Once I was accused of being homophobic actually on a radio show, but it was just a misunderstanding with someone who was a little bit hypersensitive.
Has being gay helped you in your career?
I would like to think not. Sexuality is important to one’s identity, because society forces it to be, and I guess anyone you have sex with is going to affect you. But in my opinion it shouldn’t be the overarching thing that defines your existence.
Do you like Simon Amstell?
I think he’s really talented. He doesn’t play on his sexuality massively, he works in the same building as me and he’s just a very funny guy. The attraction with Simon Amstell isn’t his sexuality; it’s his wit and intelligence.
So This Is Gonna Sound A Bit Gay is linked to Pride. Do you go to Pride yourself?
Yeah I do. London, Manchester and this year Brighton too (laughs). I have friends in all of those places and it’s always a good laugh, I enjoy Pride festivals.
In the program you explore Gaydar a bit. Do you use the site for personal use Graeme?
Yes I have done in the past. When I lived in Manchester everyone used Gaydar, in fact, we used to refer to people in bars by their profile names! The Gaydar segment of the program is actually made by viewers thought, not me. We look at some Gaydar users, one who is a police man and another who is muscled and into the photographic nature of the website. Gaydar is often represented in an odd way but we’ve tried to be very fair.
Do you think the recession is putting the gay community in danger?
In terms of newspapers like Pink Paper stopping print and going online, I think that’s nothing to worry about necessarily since it is happening everywhere in print media. In television the withdrawal of advertising has been devastating to us. There are some advantages though, people are working harder and really pulling their weight. We’re making some great TV and I feel in good shape!
What are your plans for the future?
I still have a nightly live show on Current TV called Webmash, it’s about all of the funniest news stories on the internet, so that takes up all of my energy at the moment. I’m sure you’ll see me doing some other stuff in the future though.
Do you want to be a celebrity?
I really don’t care about that stuff. I just want to create good shows and make good quality television. I’m not a household name and I’m not bothered about making myself one.
Do you like Gok Wan?
Fashion and lifestyle shows aren’t my cup of tea, but I have friends who like him. I find sometimes television focuses on quite stylised and camp types. It’s not a secret that I’m gay but it’s not necessarily obvious. Like I said, there is no overarching element to my sexuality.
Who are your gay icons?
I respect talented people like Ian McKellan. Eddie Izzard I absolutely love. Stephen Fry is a brilliant man. I also really like Jon Stewart.
Any celebrity crushes?
Cristiano Ronaldo, most definitely. I support Liverpool, but still without a doubt – Cristiano Ronaldo! Generally footballers for me, David Beckham is still beautiful. Brad Pitt still looks amazing too. I suppose I should mention someone a bit more accessible in case I bump into them! I like the Cookie guy from Skins, Jack O’ Connell.
Thanks Graeme, it’s been great chatting to you. We look forward to watching the show, and see you at Pride. Although team GT will be going to Gay Shame this year, in Vauxhall.
Oh I live near there so I’m sure you’ll see me around!
This is Gonna Sound A Bit Gay airs on Thursday 2nd July at 10pm on Current TV (Sky Channel 183 and Virgin Channel 155)
This Is Gonna Sound A Bit Gay