Nic Holas Chats Daddy-Types, HIV Activism And Facial Hair
By Samuel Leighton-Dore
Nic Holas strikes me as the kind of guy who would help a struggling grandmother across the street – all while rocking leather ass-chaps, lighting a cigarette, speaking on the phone to his publisher, and confirming an upcoming appearance at a HIV fundraising function.
He’s not only a freakishly nice guy (I’ll even admit to seeking his early morning counsel on one occasion), he’s a sexy-as-hell champion for the disenfranchised; a no-holds-barred advocate for those living with HIV; the spicy antidote to an oft-vanilla and overly palatable media-queer.
Given my clear admiration, it was only reasonable that when I spoke to Holas recently I asked about all the important things, like whether or not I should shave my seedy-ass moustache, why he’s so fascinated by daddy-types, and how the recent budget cuts have totally fucked the Aussie arts community.
1. So, I’ve been following your writing career and HIV activism with a fanboy fervor ever since you graced the cover of Hello Mr. Issue 01. Can you tell us (briefly, duh) what you’ve been up to over the past few years?
Gosh, Hello Mr feels like a million years ago but it was just three years. So much has happened since then. To be honest, I’ve only recently acknowledged how much my life has changed – mostly for the better, because my activism and writing has struck a chord and I hear from people once or twice a week at least about how I’ve helped them (really, they’ve helped themselves but it’s nice to know TIM/I sparked that).
However, I definitely fell into the trap of being a cover boy/poster boy for HIV a couple of years ago and all the attention and pressure that comes along with that meant I had nowhere safe to go and escape it all. That’s not the case any more, but I definitely had to build some scaffolding around my work and personal life…and Facebook inbox.
Don’t get me wrong, I am so grateful for the pathways that have opened up in front of me since I first published my ‘coming out’ as poz in Hello Mr – the TV and radio stuff, the panel talks and the Twitter followers etc. But I’ve also been made aware that it’s more like running a marathon than walking a red carpet.
2. You’re the co-founder of The Institute of Many (TIM), an independent and completely unfunded international movement for people living with HIV. Can you tell us a little about the work you’ve been doing with TIM?
TIM is the most important and valuable thing I’ve done with my life. We’ve gone from being a digital community and meetup group to an advocacy platform that now creates resources (Turning Tina), resilience campaigns like Wizards of Poz, and grassroots activism like our recent work with an unfortunately stigmatising condom campaign.
We still have our digital communities (TIM, TIM Women, and soon TIM Español) and our amazing meetup chapters around the country, and they are all run by very hardworking volunteers who do it because they believe in what TIM stands for, and share our core value that HIV needn’t be such an isolating experience. You can’t do it alone.
3. I know you’ve also been busy working on a book about queer men and the myriad roles of the father figure, which I find super fascinating. What inspired the subject matter?
Mainly because I love fucking daddy-types, and always have. Since I was a baby-gay navigating sex (and this is in a pre-app era, so vintage) I’ve been drawn to older men and that has definitely continued as I matured sexually and politically.
Back when I started fucking around, the gay community was in the midst of what I call the “long silence” of dealing with HIV – the really grim epidemic-era of AIDS was behind us, but not dealt with. Because of the losses endured, there was an absence of older men to pass on knowledge and lessons about being a queer man (some of which is taught in the bedroom).
Years later, as I started to place myself and queer men of my generation in the long timeline of AIDS history, I came to realise that absence has had quite an effect on us. When you combine it with the recent media phenomenon of queer families, and the pop culture moment that “Daddy” is having, it makes for an interesting time.
4. So it’s a pretty dark time for the arts community in Australia. Do you have any choice words on the recent onslaught of budget cuts?
It is, quite frankly, fucked. I’ve been involved in the Australian arts community since I was 19 years old and I’ve never experienced such an ugly time for independent thinking and creative practice. As depressing as it is to acknowledge just how little the current government values the arts, it should come as no surprise: this is a government that responds to asylum seekers setting themselves on fire with smugness and apathy. Of course they don’t care about art, they are dead inside.
5. Speaking of no money, tell us about your current Patreon campaign and why we should all consider chipping in a few spare dollars each month.
Oh man, I ummed and ahhed about setting up my Patreon for a while, because I know how precious those few spare dollars are for so many people. Even though I am really proud of the work I do as an independent activist and writer, it felt a little guache to come out cap in hand and ask people to support me, over something else more important. There’s always something more important. That’s why I’ve committed to donating 10% of my monthly pledges to a rotating series of causes because I’m a huge believer in paying rent on your privilege.
6. Finally, I’ve been trying to grow a moustache the better-part of a year now, but it still looks super fucking seedy. Should I throw in the towel, or am I just suffering through mo-puberty?
I joke all the time that when I want to finally escape being “Nic Holas” I will just shave off my moustache because 99% of my “brand” (gross) is growing above my big dumb mouth! Look, to be honest, yours totally does look seedy-pervert as, but you’ve got that whole bald hottie thing going on. Keep working that Corey Stoll angle (he’s my dream lover, btw) and get the fuck out of my mo-lane!
Also, despite having a decent moustache I am unable to grow a decent beard, so I feel your pain.