The Leader of the Opposition talks gay bars, pink flights, and his hopes for his children if they ever came out.

National Party leader Christopher Luxon has never been to a gay bar, he tells us over Zoom on Wednesday 28 June. “But I’m not averse to doing so,” he assures us with a smile.

The man beaming down the camera is warm, engaging, and assures us that this interview will be the most interesting conversation he will have all day. It’s not hard to see why party insiders foresaw him having John Key-like appeal.


The gay bar conversation comes up as YOUR ex endeavours to get a sense of his personal experience with our communities. He tells us that one of his best friends from Intermediate came out and has been in a long-term relationship for the last 26 years, but his closest gay friends were made when he and his wife Amanda moved to London.

“We had two little kids and no family support around, but we had a lovely American couple that were so generous to us and so good with our son, who was only about 16 months old at the time.”

He admits that he has also heard the rumour that he canceled the ‘pink’ flights to Sydney during his time at Air New Zealand, but assures us, “I can tell you categorically that I did not cancel the gay flights to Mardi Gras. It would have been a commercial or operational decision. They were fantastic and a lot of fun!”

In terms of personal gay icons, he lists Elton John, Apple CEO Tim Cook, and Kiwi chef Peter Gordon, whom he collaborated with at Air New Zealand.

Even closer to home, he tells us that if either of his children came out, he would want them to be able to ‘be themselves,’ ‘feel safe,’ and that he would, “support them and love them and just want them to do well.”

Some of those answers may surprise you, considering the media speculation made around his evangelical Christian faith when he first joined politics. He tells us there are ‘lots’ of misconceptions about him, stating, “It’s one of the most frustrating parts of the job.”

Christopher Luxon and team on stage at the Big Gay Out.

The biggest misconception, he tells us, surrounds his faith. “They want to label us,” he says of the media. “They make judgments and stereotypes about what you are or what you’re not,” but Chris highlights that, for him, this is nothing new.

My parents left school at 16. I was the first member of my family to ever go to university, and I did well for myself, so people assume that I’m some rich guy that really doesn’t understand what’s going on for people. Those are things that you have to deal with. My mum and dad taught me, you don’t judge people, you don’t stereotype, you don’t label, you get to know an individual and really understand who they are as a person.”

With this mantra in mind, Chris tells us that he plans to ‘prioritise diversity and inclusion’ in the National Party.

“I want everybody to feel that they can be themselves, at work, at home, in their community, and feel safe to do so. I came from a business world where diversity was really valued because it actually made good economic sense and made the businesses infinitely better,” he explains.

“When you go back through the 80-year history of this party as a centre-right party, it’s had conservatives, liberals, rural, urban, and people of all identities associated with the party. We’ve been at our best when we have that combination of moderate liberal and moderate conservative, with the operative word being moderate!” he asserts.

“I’m determined to recreate that in my era, because when we haven’t done that, we haven’t been at our best.”

Back in March, under Chris’ leadership, James Christmas was selected for a National list spot – the first openly gay person put forward by the party in quite some time.

“He’s someone I’ve wanted to bring into the team for a long time,” enthuses Chris, before admitting that one rainbow candidate is not enough.

“We are on a journey. We don’t have the diversity that makes us representative of all of New Zealand yet, but that’s the work that will continue as we try and perfect the party.”

Article | Oliver Hall.

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