In a weird way, our annual Pride columns are a Grand Celebration of None of Our Business. Celebrities’ private lives are allowed to be private. Goodness knows I try to make these columns as much as possible about people’s work and as little as possible about their private lives (though boy howdy do I have a doozy of a story coming up for when we cover Star Trek: Voyager), but once a year, we go out of our way to make part of the celebration a specific detail of their private lives. This thought brought to you by Kristian Nairn’s statement that he had to come out twice. He was out to people he actually knew by the time he was fourteen. He didn’t think he’d have to come out again, but he did, because he had to tell the entire world.
I mean, he did get his start as the DJ at a gay club in Belfast. This is not actually proof of anyone’s sexuality, I admit; there are plenty of straight people who have achieved success initially performing for queer audiences. Still, you know, it’s a data point. From there, he was cast as the looming Hodor in Game of Thrones, though admittedly it’s difficult to cast Nairn as anyone not looming. He was a fan favourite. From there, he went on to Our Flag Means Death, where he gets a little more dialogue.
Honestly one of the things I think is noteworthy about Nairn is that he’s a Big Ol’ Nerd. I’m enormously fond of having Big Ol’ Nerds in this sort of production. I like a Big O’ Nerd in a production that’s going to lead to a lot of con appearances and so forth. The opposite of the Shatnerian “don’t you people have lives?” Someone with the World of Warcraft Horde symbol tattooed on them is someone who will understand the relationship the fans have with the work.
In a way, it’s its own sort of pride. Nairn is out because he thinks it’s important for gay people to have role models, to know that it’s possible to be a 6’10” gay man and have a successful acting career. Similarly, he’s open about his love of things like WoW because he can be and there’s nothing wrong with openly loving WoW. Oh, the two definitely don’t fully compare; after all, no one’s making laws criminalizing being a Big Ol’ Nerd. But it’s nice to know that you can be one and still, you know, have a life.
There’s a lot going on in Our Flag Means Death, only tangentially associated with anything that might be called history. Is Nairn’s Wee John Feeney based on a real person? Eh, probably not. There are a people on the show who are, and it’s unlikely that he’s one of them. And since we know very little about the ones who are, it’s not like there’s a whole lot of historical detail going on there anyway. But Nairn is one of the many reasons it’s definitely worth seeking out the show. He’s hard to miss in it.