New Zealand is losing one of its biggest GLBT advocates this month as director, writer and community advocate Chris Banks heads to Melbourne, Australia to further his career.
Chris – recently known for his directorial work at the helm of Number 8 Films and writer at www.biploarbear.co.nz – has accepted an offer in marketing and communications for a large chain of counselling and therapy centres in Victoria, NSW and Queensland.
Chris has worked in and around GLBT organisations for almost ten years – he has worked for Queer Nation, GayNZ and express, communications at the New Zealand AIDS Foundation (NZAF), editing NZAF’s Collective Thinking for four years and focusing on the promotion of GLBT mental health at the Mental Health Foundation.
As part of the GLBT media, Chris took on the tough stories and tough opponents – John Banks at the GABA mayoral debate, the Maxim Institute and Destiny Church during the civil unions campaign and Michael Laws when he criticised an NZAF campaign.
Chris says the highlight of his career in New Zealand has been “meeting so many different people… and being able to tell their stories. I get so excited during the process of hearing about the life experiences of GLBT people that I can’t wait to either write about it or film it so that others can get to have that same feeling. Often the most remarkable people are utterly convinced that they’re ordinary. They have no idea how special they are.”
He says his most rewarding experience has been going public about his mental illness through the Bipolar Bear blog. “It has brought me into contact with so many gay men who have been through similar issues but were afraid to talk about them because they were too scared of being judged – by people in their own community,” he says. “The 80/20 rule operates in our community: 80% of the misery is caused by 20% of the people.”
As his parting words, he says to those who see injustice in and around the GLBT community, “If you genuinely think something can be done better or needs to change in our community, then put your hand up and do it.”