‘I dig my heels in’: Reuben Kaye talks unapologetic queer strength


Reuben Kaye Live and Intimidating tour
Image: Jax Moussa

Ahead  of Reuben Kaye’s trip to Queensland for his Live and Intimidating tour, I catch up with the hilarious cabaret star to find out what makes him tick.

After going viral recently for biting back with hilarious precision on the Q&A panel in defense of his controversial ‘Jesus joke’ on The Project, Reuben is back on the road, and his sights are on Brisbane and Gold Coast.

But who is Reuben Kaye? Well, if you were to ask the comedian himself, you’ll get an answer but it might not be the one you’re looking for.

“I’m the answer to the question, ‘Can I still be a proud boy if I’m covered in last night’s shame?'” he tells me.

“I’m the grace of a bird, but sadly that bird is a seagull with rabies; I’m beauty and glamour and grace, but I’m also vaguely terrifying.

“But I hope that people also see the part of me that is sort of warm and soft and kind. Everything I say is with a lot of love.

“There are elements of me, of my character, that contain multitudes and is full of contradictions. I love kids, but I’m never gonna have them — not unless doctors find an ovary at the back of my throat.

“And I hate sports, but I will wear a jockstrap over my face if the plane loses altitude.”

Kicking and screaming

It’s precisely this provocative reputation that precedes Reuben at this point in his gradually sky-rocketing career, though he’s no shock jockey.

Every punch and jab carries the heavy weight of truth, which, as Reuben tells me, is exactly what society needs:

“Speaking to the queer community and living the queer experience in a very public way is a way of moving society forward and dragging society kicking and screaming into the future.

“That’s what the role of a queer artist is today in this kind of firestorm that we find ourselves in in 2023, I guess.

“Society has told us we’re a joke. And part of our port of call is to reclaim that and start making the jokes.

“We laugh at ourselves, with each other first, before society can. It’s part of a defence mechanism and it’s one of the hallmarks of our culture.

“And the other part, is that we’re a sexual identity that has built a culture around us as part of a protective mechanism, because we’ve been ostracised by society.”

However, as Reuben points out, the recent trend of Rainbow Capitalism has corporations constantly finding new ways to exploit our communities, but queer people aren’t that easily fooled.

“Look at corporate pride – Target snatching back its Pride collection because it got backlash; or Bud Light, or Dodger Stadium – we can smell a rat a mile off.”

Strong, queer and successful

And while this outspokenness has landed Reuben in the crosshairs of the more conservative crowds, the negative attention has done little to dim the unapologetic brightness of his light:

“Well, I don’t think there’s anything to apologise for. And I don’t want an apology to be the example I’m setting for queer kids.

“One of the best parts of my career is when queer kids bring their parents to my shows – or when parents bring their queer kids to my shows.

“And for that, I have to set an example of a strong queer human being that’s succeeding and making their own way in the world.”

While this unwavering confidence is an integral part of his incredibly charismatic on-stage presence, as I found out, it’s no performance:

“It was always there. But because of what I’ve faced in the last year, two years, because of the backlash that I’ve received, it’s cemented it. It has made me dig my heels in further.

“If anything, it’s given me a greater connection to my community because more people have reached out and I’ve been shown more love and more acceptance and more gratitude from not just our community but people in the wider community even heterosexual people (sorry, people who identify as beige), even they’ve shared their love because they understand how fucked the world is right now.

“But perhaps straight people are realising that queerness isn’t a monolith, and that there’s something they can learn from queer artists, too. Queer artists don’t just speak to queer audiences, although we do speak to them very strongly.”

Reuben loves Queensland (and the feeling is mutual)

In anticipation of his return to the Sunny State for the Brisbane and Gold Coast legs of his tour, I inquire about Reuben’s last trip up north.

For The Kaye Hole tour, Reuben brought out a number of beloved queer Queensland entertainers, and when asked whether this was something he aims to do in every city, he replies: “Absolutely it is!”

“I’m so lucky to be able to travel around this country, it means I don’t really live anywhere. So, much of my queer community isn’t in one city, my queer community is in every city I visit.

“And part of the joy of that is being able to see what each state’s drag is doing who are the queer entertainers who are the movers and shakers and the Brisbane and Gold Coast scene is outlandishly good. It’s fucking incredible.”

To catch some of this talent, as well as the indomitably hilarious comedian himself, don’t miss out on Reuben Kaye’s Live and Intimidating tour, coming to HOTA in Gold Coast on the 12th of July and the Princess Theatre in Brisbane on the 14th of July.

For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Nate Woodall

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

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