Homophobic comments by an ex-boyband star have angered gay listeners to Auckland's More FM and concerned LGBT youth advocacy group Rainbow Youth.
Singer/songwriter Brian McFadden, who rose to fame as part of Irish singing group Westlife, appeared as a guest host on More FM's breakfast show on a visit to Auckland on 5 August. The on-air conversation turned to 'why men shouldn't ever wear pink' and a caller likened the colour pink to red - a colour which had masculine connotations historically.
"Saying pink is a form of red is the same as saying homosexual is a form of male," McFadden replied, following the comment up by reiterating his stance that "men wearing any kind of pink is wrong" and affecting a girly laugh.
GayNZ.com was contacted about the broadcast remarks by a gay man who was deeply offended by McFadden's comments. The man, who did not want to be named, said: "Perhaps it was intended to be tongue-in-cheek, but if the line were: 'Saying pink is a form of red is the same as saying a Maori is a form of human' then I think we know what the response would be. It's unacceptable."
Rainbow Youth co-ordinator Robert Marshall describes McFadden's comments as "pretty terrible".
"It's the sort of stuff that gets said every day in the schoolyard," he says. "A lot of young people are quite impressionable, and when they see celebrities saying stuff like that, they think it's OK to say it themselves.
"It's always unacceptable to put people down based on their sexuality â€“ it's just like putting down people because of their race. Judging people just because they're a little bit different from you."
Marshall says young people often get judged and bullied just for wearing something that's considered feminine. "Guys that do anything feminine get labeled as gay, even if they aren't gay themselves. So then you end up with a lot of people out there that won't try anything even remotely feminine â€“ like showing emotions, or even dancing â€“ because they end up getting whacked with that same homophobic stick."
McFadden left the boyband Westlife in 2004, and has recently been based in Australia, where he's featured in several regular radio and television appearances. Interviews with him have appeared in gay media to promote his solo career, in which he's been quoted as having respect for his gay fans. Mark Feehily, still with Westlife, came out as gay in 2005.
Brian McFadden's More FM comments can be heard on the YouTube clip below.