It’s a top holiday destination for New Zealanders, but until Steve Fahd made it happen, the Gold Coast didn’t have a queer venue. He talks to YOUR ex about his inspiration and battle to give the GC a gay bar, Hairy Mary’s.

Where did you grow up, and how was growing up there for you?

I grew up in Tamworth, NSW. My family moved us to Sydney when I was in my early teens to be with our cousins and to learn the Lebanese culture. When we got to Sydney, I felt like I didn’t fit in with the Lebanese culture and found it difficult to fit in with my extended family.

Steve Fahd (right) with DJ Adam Cox (left).

So what did your coming-out journey look like?

At the age of 18, I first came out to my family. Being brought up as a good Catholic Lebanese boy, my family were extremely confused and chose not to accept that I was gay. I battled with them for a few years and also battled with my own identity. My dad, uncles and aunties totally disowned me, and I wasn’t allowed to hang out with my cousins anymore. After a few years of battling with my own sexuality, I figured if I was to get married to a woman, then everything would be okay.

I met this beautiful girl and started dating her, but while I was dating her, I was still playing with guys on the side. I decided to ask her to marry me, and I hoped things would change for me.

I presume nothing changed.

I still desired men. At that time, I was seeing this fella, and he was looking for somewhere to live, so I asked my wife if he could move into our home and rent the spare bedroom. She said ‘yes,’ but had no idea that he and I were messing around with each other.

After a couple of years, it was getting really difficult, and I found myself just not being me. It was starting to affect my mental health, and it was apparent to those around me that something was wrong.

After a while of living inside my own head, I decided to be honest with myself regardless of what might happen, so I came out for a second time, told my wife I was gay, and the guy living with us was my partner.

OMG – how did that go?

That didn’t go down well, as you can imagine. My wife and I got divorced, and I was disowned once again by my family and friends. At this point, I didn’t care. The main thing was that I was being honest with myself, and that’s all that mattered.

You later moved to Melbourne and founded the renowned nightclub, Sircuit. What inspired that?

I moved to Melbourne back in 1999, and I started working at Club 80, a renowned sex club. I then met my partner at the time, and we had many discussions about what we wanted for our future, and we both wanted to open up a bar in Melbourne.

So I left Club 80 and started a cleaning business specialising in cleaning pubs and clubs, with the understanding that this was the first step to fulfilling our dream of one day opening a bar.

While we did this, we also travelled around Europe, researching and visiting every gay bar so that we could learn and understand how they worked and operated. We also wanted to bring something a little different to Australia. We needed a point of difference with our bar. We opened Sircuit in 2009.

You left Sircuit in early 2020. Why was that?

I left because I separated from my partner at the time, who I co-owned the business with, and I wanted to move on with my life and do something for myself.

You could have moved anywhere from there, but you chose the Gold Coast. Why was that?

Covid had hit, and the world was in lockdown. I love the ocean and the warmer weather. So it was a no-brainer to move to the Gold Coast and make it home. I had been here a few times on holidays and fell in love with the lifestyle, the beaches and warmer weather. My only hesitation was that there wasn’t a gay scene here at all, but I thought I’d move here and create one.

You battled with the council to set up Hairy Mary’s – a process that took two and a half years. What kept you passionately pursuing it during that time?

My passion for this is my belief in the community. A belief that we deserve to have a space where we can celebrate ourselves and everything about us. A safe space without judgement or labels where we can be our true selves.

What are your goals for the venue over the next couple of years?

My goals are to grow Hairy Mary’s into a hub for the LGBTQIA+ community and make it a place where everyone knows your name!

Why should every Kiwi be coming to check out Hairy Mary’s next time they visit the Gold Coast?

To come and support the community – to come and play with us, have a drink and a laugh and dance like there is no tomorrow. Talk to the locals, who can tell you the best spots to visit while on the Gold Coast, and most importantly, come and be you!

Check out Hairy Mary’s (7 Surfers Avenue, Mermaid Beach, QLD) @hairymarysgc on socials and