A Not So Empty Closet
We’ve all been there. You go over to a friend’s house for a few drinks on a quiet evening. They have more Sauvignon Blanc than you, and all of a sudden – they proposition you. You consider the possibilities – even though you’ve only known them for a few months. They say the slurred words that everyone wants to hear, “Will you… join me… on a new radio show?”
From that fateful night, Samantha “Sam” Roberts and Andrew Wheatland agree that their show “Empty Closet Radio” has been the longest-lasting and most positive result from a drunken proposition that they’ve ever given or received! Having recently passed their 150th episode, Sam and Andrew are proud – yet humbled by the response of their show. Empty Closet Radio isn’t afraid to get into the nitty-gritty and talk about the major issues that affect the LGBTIQ+ community. Acting as a great platform in Cairns to celebrate and educate about what it means to be queer. This is to an audience who, in some cases, might not know anyone from the LGBTIQ+ community.
A match made in radio heaven, Sam said yes to Andrew’s proposal that drunken night and they’ve been creating engaging content for over three years.
Before moving to Cairns in 2014, Andrew Wheatland had been exposed to the world of radio while growing up in Melbourne. Wheatland began work at Melbourne-based LGBTIQ+ radio station, JOY 94.9 in 2008. He admitted that while he was figuring out his own identity, simply knowing that there was a station dedicated to people who thought like him, helped validate his feelings.
Once he made the jump to Cairns and found that a queer-oriented radio show didn’t exist, he saw it as an opportunity to be a voice for the community. However, knowing that doing it alone isn’t nearly as fun as doing it with someone else – he soon began looking for a co-host.
Local girl Sam Roberts was born and raised in Cairns, and after a 3-year stint at a Gold Coast university, she realised how unique her home was in contrast and came back to thrive in the tropics. Being raised in a progressive and woman-positive family, Sam is no stranger to calling out double-standards. She has a knack for presenting alternative perspectives that challenge your views society… The perfect candidate to co-host a queer radio show in rural Far North Queensland!
A match made in heaven, Sam said yes to Andrew’s proposal that drunken night and they’ve been creating engaging content for over three years.
Empty Closet Radio strives to be at the forefront of progression and diversity, bringing in special guests from all walks of life. Being inclusive is a priority for every episode that goes to air. Giving a platform to minorities who feel like they’re not being heard – transcending gender, sexuality, religion, age or race. They’ve heard many stories of injustice, prejudice and abuse, which they hope that by talking about on a public forum, they can help others in similar situations.
Both Sam and Andrew agree that even those within the LGBTIQ+ community can hold outdated views. Sam recalls conversations where an individual from the LGBTIQ+ community was justifying themselves after hurling racial abuse – saying, “I can’t be called a bigot because I am gay.” Sam’s response to that behaviour is, “Being gay (lesbian/ bi/etc) is not a ‘get out of jail free card.”
“Whether you believe it or not, LGBTIQ+ people are marginalised. And, if you’re not at the edges of the edge, then it should be your job to try and make life better for the people who ARE at the edges of the edge – so that we can be at the centre of the margin, together.” – Andrew Wheatland
Being a part of many local groups and committees, they contribute and promote many events in the area. In the near future, they hope to see the Cairns queer community branch out into other ways of meeting each other. Sam threw out ideas for group coffee dates, book clubs, or even screenings of TV shows – activities that cater to people who may not enjoy drinking alcohol or going to bars and clubs. Andrew said that he hopes Cairns adopts more of an “invitational culture” where the LGBTIQ+ community offers to introduce individuals, or groups to other friendship circles around the city. Creating a more united front, and bringing more introverted queers out of the woodwork!