Gok Wan

Dylan Jones got drunk with Gok Wan at the Natural History Museum and talked the importance of pride, and his brand new burgeoning gay night at Shaftesbury Avenue nightclub, Century! 


It’s the eve before London Pride, and we’re at the Natural History Museum in South Kensington. It’s a special pride edition of one of their Museum Lates evenings. Stuffed dodos glower from behind panes of glass as drag queens stalk past in Marc Jacobs couture. The iconic diplodocus skeleton peers pensively into a bustling bar area Pride in London have erected at its feet, London’s gay glitterati clamoring for flutes of prehistorically poured champagne. The London Gay Men’s chorus stands on the main steps, crooning through a particularly camp rendition of Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend.

We’re with fashion guru Gok Wan, tucked away in a dusky corner near the glyptodon fossil. He plonks his champagne down on a probably priceless case of mysterious artefacts, and we get talking about the upcoming weekend’s pride festivities.

So Gok, we’re at Pride! This is the start of Pride!
I’ve actually told a lot of people that I’m opening pride this year. Y’know, that this event is opening pride. So you have to help me with that lie, because otherwise I’ll look dead silly. I don’t know where I’m gonna be for the rest of the weekend. I live in town, so I live actually IN pride. People ask me where I live and I say “pride”.


Have a little flat party or something!
I might do a little bit of a DJ session tomorrow night. I did send out a Whatsapp group message to everyone saying “I’ll be at home tomorrow”. Because my place is a bit like a halfway house. It’s a bit like the Prisoner Cell Block H green room.

Or Orange Is The New Black?
Yes, or Orange Is The New Yellow, in my case. So yeah there’ll no doubt be people coming over tomorrow. Either flocking over, or trying to fall asleep on my doorstep.

Pride has a new significance after recent events doesn’t it. 

I think pride this year has never been more important. I’ve always been a huge supporter of it anyway though. When I was younger, I remember turning around and saying “I’m not going to pride! What have I got to be proud of?! I’m a proud man anyway!” It was all just complete naivety. A lot of it was about fear, a lot of it was about being afraid of the mirrors. And I think it’s also because I thought it wasn’t needed. But it isn’t just about having a big old party, it’s a political stand. It’s a moment when the community gets together to show the world that we’re here, and we must not ever be invisible to them. And if that just happens once a year then so be it. Obviously all of us would like that to happen every single day, but right now where we stand, especially with Orlando and all the other events happening around the world, I think the significance of this weekend is of great importance.

“Pride must be as many different things to as many people as possible.”

It’s interesting that you’ve changed your attitude towards pride so much…

I think a lot of gay men do. It’s hard isn’t it, because if you get five hundred thousand people around the country, all celebrating pride at some point over the summer, it’s hard to get one message out. And I’m not saying that’s a failure of pride, what I’m saying is it’s a failure of how to be gay in the community. It might leave people a bit unsure of what the goal is.

I think it’s enough to just show up and have a good time!
Yes! And to talk about it. And of course this year with social media and stuff being more prominent than ever, it’s a great way of talking about it too.

And when you say it’s difficult to get one message out, that’s a reflection of how diverse our community is.
Absolutely. Pride must be as many different things to as many people as possible. And events like this, and events all over the capital in particular, get people talking about that. It’s weird, because I was on a shoot today, for Sainsburys. And the minute you say “pride” in a room full of heterosexual people from all walks of life, and doing very different jobs, everyone knows what pride is. And I actually had a moment of proudness from that. Because once there would have been no way these people knew that. And now they now.

I always find it more touching when you see straight families and straight people at pride, because we’re obviously going to go, but it’s more of a statement when they do maybe…
Yes! It’s very odd that you say that though. Say, if you go to a heterosexual wedding and a gay couple come, I wonder if the straight people would say “oh I’m really glad they’re here.” It’s a bit odd isn’t it. And it’s kind of like actually, why shouldn’t it just be for absolutely everyone. I think it will get there at some point.

Hopefully in the next few decades.
Oh my god, do you know how old I am?! I can’t wait that long! Are you kidding me? I’m older than that bloody dinosaur!

So what have you got going on post-pride then? What are your plans for the year?
This year is very, very busy! I’ve just made five series of different shows so I’m knackered. I’ve gonna have a bit of time off over the summer, and then I have some other new stuff in the pipeline, which I can’t talk about. I know it’s really dead boring when people say that! But if you meet my agent, she’s really scary and she terrifies me, and she’ll kill me if I say anything! Although, very exciting…I’m starting my own gay night in London, where I’ll be DJing! DJ Dumpling on The Wheels of Steel. So that’s my big goal this year.

Wow amazing! What venue will that be that?
Fingers crossed it’s going to be at Century Club. On the last Sunday of every month. It’s going to be for the gay community and their friends, so it’s gonna be for everyone. It’s a Sunday session. A lot of my friends are the same age of me, which is basically dead. And the type of music we listen to, you can’t really get anymore.

What, like monks chanting?

I know you’re joking, but that’s not funny.

Ha! What exciting news though!
Yes, that’s my big gay news! My first ever night that I’m hosting. You must all come. On 29th July I’m doing a little set, and then fingers crossed the night’s opening at the end of August!


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