Interviewing Zak Hardaker - The colourful life of an LGF volunteer

Publish Date: 05/08/2014

22-year old Rugby League player Zak Hardaker plays for Leeds Rhinos but after being subjected to a £300 fine and a 5-match ban for using ‘foul and abusive’ homophobic language against the referee during their match against Warrington Wolves back in June, Manchester based lgbt rugby club The Canalsiders approached him and took him under their wings to teach his about lgbt and the misinterpretations of slag and off the cuff remarks.

Zak has since returned to Leeds Rhinos to continue his career but remains a supporter of lgbt rights and still helps to coach the Canalsiders.

LGF Volunteer Christopher Oatway, also 22, spoke to Zak on behalf of Gaydio for whom he is also a volunteer, at a press event held at Taurus in Manchester’s Gay Village.

Chris has also presented a weekly drivetime show on Wednesday evenings on his home station of Wythenshawe FM and is also involved with the setting up of Trafford Sound, is secretary of various organisations, and helps with publicity and performs with various local theatre groups.

question time chris oatway

In June, Chris represented the LGF at the Albert Kennedy Trust’s Youth Conference in London where he met with other young people from lgbt-related groups in Hull, Birmingham, London and Manchester to question MPs about what is being done to promote and improve the needs and rights of people in the lgbt community.

Topics raised include housing for lgbt people, more support and awareness through education, feeding the views of local people through local government to parliament and bridging the gap between equality and acceptance of people who are perceived and different and understanding the difference between a life choice and something genetic.

After a QuestionTime style event, hosted by Dragon’s Den’s Evan Davis, there were two workshops where ideas could be discussed and noted by members of the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). It was proposed that there be an lgbt champion representing each area across the country with the option of setting up a local group where members of the lgbt communities could be themselves and feel safe, help each other and meet new people.

christopher oatway

It was also identified that there is not currently a national conference specifically for lgbt people and so the AKT accepted the challenge to act upon this and coordinate a national forum or conference where members of the lgbt community and lgbt organisations could share experiences, discuss issues and engage with people from across the UK in a central place. This is in progress and young people who attended the youth conference have been invited to join the steering group.

Chris hopes to help drive things forward by becoming a volunteer of the AKT and will be at Manchester Pride promoting the many organisations he is involved with.

Chris’ Twitter handle is @djchrisoatway and he can also be found on Facebook.

akt selfie