Cheesecake-obsessed Steven Oates is a board member of the Rainbow Auckland Charitable Trust and the host of Woof! The Auckland Rainbow Dog Show. He is missing human intimacy and dreaming of a future in a rural setting. 

Tell us about your Level 4 Lockdown – where are you? Who’s in your bubble? And what are you doing to keep your mental health in check?

My bubble is my Mother, my children (my dogs Ruby & Murphy) and I. We are hanging out at home in Auckland. To keep my mental health in check I am in regular contact with my nearest and dearest. This situation has actually been great for some of my friendships, especially ones overseas, we have been kikiing up a storm on facetime, sharing lots of love and laughter. Murphy and I have been hitting the pavement and going for good runs every day. The fresh air and blue skies have been super invigorating and healing.

What are your top tips for express readers who are struggling with self-isolation?


If you’re struggling with this situation, try and be a little bit Buddhist, by that I mean, understand that nothing is permanent. Everything that has a beginning has an ending, including this situation. It will pass. So try and find the light in this dark time. Practice some self-care, give yourself a break. If you want to eat that piece of cheesecake – eat two pieces. Use this time create some positive outcomes. Use it to reprioritise things in your life, reorganise and cleanse your home, stay active and try and end the lockdown having achieved something, even if it’s just something small. We often say we don’t have enough time to do somethings, well now we have the time. So use it.

What is the most positive aspect of self-isolation you’ve experienced so far?

I’m loving having the time to do all of the things I just mentioned! I’m feeling some of my life goals gently shifting. Unfortunately, I think its times of crisis that we really evaluate what’s important to us and what we want our lives to be like. I’m thinking of it as a time to reboot the computer (me) and perhaps update the software. I’m also loving spending time with my dogs, especially Ruby who recently turned 14. Every day is a blessing.

What plans do you have between now and day 28 of lockdown?

I plan of doing more of the above. I’m also gonna do a big spring clean of the house and garden. I’m gonna try and improve my fitness and maybe learn to cook a few different things. Although I am not sure how compatible those two goals are?

What are you missing most about ‘normal life’?

Like most people, I am missing seeing my friends and being able to go on adventures and be spontaneous. I am missing eating at all my favourite places, I love Thai, Indian, Malaysian food and although I can cook to survive I love going out and sharing food and laughs with friends and loved ones. I also miss good cheesecake!

What will be the first thing that you can’t wait to do when regular life resumes?

The first thing I will be doing will be meeting friends for food and laughs and good cheesecake! I also miss going to the movies and theatre so will be looking at what’s on as soon as we are allowed out. I’m also not too shy to say It will be nice to share some human intimacy with special people.

Moving forward is there anything you think you will change about your life following self-isolation?

As this is a time of cleansing and revaluation, I will definitely have some new goals. The past few years I have often thought of spending the later part of my life in a smaller town or rural setting. I am feeling this even more strongly now. Maybe I will start formulating a plan to make this a reality. After this dark time, I will cherish and love my good friends even more than before. At the end of the day, they are what matters: friends, family and dogs…..and cheesecake.

Is there a closing message you would like to share with our gorgeous LGBTI+ community?

The biggest message to share would be to focus on what’s important. Too much energy is spent on competition and conflict. This crisis has been a great leveller. We really are all equal at the end of the day and all we really have is each other. Let go of trivial pettiness and squabbles. Decide what’s important to you and what’s not. Focus on yourself and your loved ones right now and be kind. Find the light in the darkness.