With a cast of disarmingly lovable lads and ladettes, Geordie Shore is MTV's unapologetically controversial insight into a life of smashing beers, birds, and - just sometimes - each other's faces. A curve ball was thrown into the mix of bronzer and biceps a few series back in the form of brazen, bisexual Nathan Henry, who viewers will see come out to his cast mates again this week - this time as gay.
His televised man-on-man antics have already grabbed headlines and a fair share of hate online already, and as he prepares for the episode's transmission, we caught up with Nathan to talk *those* shag-pad antics and why Gary, Scotty and co. are all intrigued by the new levels of boy lovin' in the Geordie Shore abode...
So how are you feeling about your big coming out episode?
I’m really excited for it! It’s going to be completely different and viewers who watch the show probably wouldn't expect this from Geordie Shore. At the same time I'm nervous because it’s going to be a big thing for the show and MTV itself. It’s not really dawned on me properly yet that it's happening.
Obviously you joined the show as an openly bisexual man - when did you come to terms with fact that you were actually gay?
I think deep down I knew before even joining the show. A lot of the show is about getting drunk and going out and competing with each other to pull girls, and it really think 'this isn't what I’m like'. For most of the boys it's what we did because it was fun, but for me, it just wasn’t fun anymore. I knew I'd rather be out pulling boys. I thought more and more about coming out, and the closer I got to everyone on the show, the more I thought I could be honest with them and myself. There came a point where I had to be honest with everyone and say 'I am gay'.
How did you approach it?
At one point, and you see this in an episode, we had a pulling competition, and I thought 'I really don’t want to pull girls', So I started getting with a few guys, and then more guys... I sat one of the lads down and just came out with it. I knew they thought I was gay, but I just wanted to confirm it. I got so anxious. We all live together under one roof, so I just had to sit everyone down and go through it, and it did get quite emotional! But afterwards, it was honestly one of the best things I’ve ever done. It felt like re-living the moment I came out to my mum, but even the crew were saying congratulations. I’m really glad I did it.
So how did everyone react?
When I actually came out, between them the boys all planned a sort of 'gay day' to celebrate me coming out! We went out that night to a club, and it was only a small thing, but I remember they'd written 'We love you Nathan' on their bums, and they were showing it off to quite a lot of the people in the nightclub because they were so proud of what I’d done, so that was really nice. From a load of macho lads like that it’s not what you might expect or think they’d be arsed to do.
Obviously Geordie Shore shows off the epitome of lad culture, so it's seems like this a great example of guys in a hyper-masculine environment showing that someone's sexuality isn't a big deal - we've even see you snogging Scotty T on a night out...
Yeah, I think they're a great example. They are lotharios and they're on the telly, and I think because obviously they are quite laddish it’s a good example to guys at home who look at them as sorts of role models - I hope they can see their reaction and think 'you know what, we have a gay mate, and it’s okay'. Off camera, they ask me a lot of questions like 'how does this work?' 'what’s a top, what’s a bottom?' They ask a load of stuff, they're really intrigued. So we can all laugh and joke about and they can be kissing me without sexuality being a barrier. It’s nice to see that from them.
And how's the reaction been from fans to a boy who likes boys being on the show?
I mean, I’ll get the occasional tweet saying something like 'get him off the show, I didn’t tune in to watch this' but actually the worst was when I got messaged on my personal Facebook account saying that if they ever saw me in the street they were going to petrol bomb me. I just wrote back saying 'thank you for taking the time to write to me!' [laughs] But I get more positive than negative though, and there are a lot of thank you’s which are lovely. Most of the hate is from adult men, which is bizarre. It’s sad to see that still exists because you just know they're instilling it in their children too.
Obviously bisexual men often face a lot of stigma for supposedly being 'gay men who are keeping one foot in the door', or simply haven't admitted it to themselves. As someone who did identify as bi and now gay, do you worry there might be bit of a backlash because of that?
Do you know what? Before you said it, it never crossed my mind, I'm not gonna lie. At the end of the day I'm doing this for myself, and I never thought that could offend bisexual men, or gay ones. I think everyone should support each other instead of bashing each other all the time though but if I do offend anyone, that was never the intention. All I wanted to do was make sure I could be proud of myself. Everyone has to have their own process.
Are you set to stay on the show for the foreseeable now you're totally 'out'?
Well as far as I know I’m not leaving! Filming the new series has been great because I’ve been able to be totally myself for it; no pretending to want to do stuff and pull girls. I think people are really going to see the difference!
Does the fact some of your more, erm, intimate moments are being broadcast to the nation ever faze you?
Well, in a lot of ways, it’s actually just a lot like being at uni. You just forget the cameras are there. So you really do just end up having a laugh with your housemates, and if you do end up bringing someone back to the house, or get with people or whatever, it’s not until the camera crew come up later and say 'we need to discuss what happened last night' that you think 'SHIT! They were filming it!' You know the truth is a lot of people my age do this on a daily basis. The difference is I have a camera shoved in my face for the world to watch.
So when you asked that guy to call you 'King Nathan'; is that a regular request?
[laughs] No! Not at all. Honestly, when I look back it makes me feel so sick! I don't know where that came from. I think when I'm nervous I get weird! There was a boy I got with in Greece [for upcoming series 12], and I started talking about such weird stuff. I think we'd just started kissing and I started talking about Finding Nemo and how much I love Dory. You should have heard half the stuff that got cut from the shag-pad - King Nathan was probably the least cringy thing I said! I'm pretty sure at one point I told a boy I was a wizard, called him Harry Potter and told him to suck on my wand. It just got out of hand. Honestly, I need stopping. It'll never happen again!
When you're out and about filming with everyone in clubs, are there enough other gay guys around for you to get in on the action?
Not in Greece, because it was all the chavs out there on holiday! But in Newcastle, there was a lot of male attention when I’m there. Originally people would look in clubs but not really do much, whereas now they’re straight over and talking to me and asking if I want to have a drink or whatever. So that’s nice. But I do have to tell them that I have a boyfriend!
It's taken a lot to get used to people recognising me actually, because I can't go out now without it happening. Actually what was most worrying is that yesterday I went ot watch my neice's nativity play at primary school, and these year 6's came running up to say hello! And how old are Year 6's, like, 11?! I was like 'How do they even know what Geordie Shore is!
So what's the one thing that comes from your big coming out episode?
I’d really like more TV shows to show LGBT people and what they get up to in day-to-day life. No other show really highlights it apart from soap characters. I think as long as people see it and know that they're not alone, then that's the best thing to come out of it.
Geordie Shore airs Tuesday night (December 15) at 10pm on MTV.