Tom Ballard Is What He Is

SYDNEY GAY & LESBIAN MARDI GRAS: Comedian Tom Ballard shares an irreverent but deeply personal account of coming out as a gay man.
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Tom Ballard is what he is, and what he is, is gay. In a cracking start to Sydney’s Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras, the Triple J Breakfast co-host shares an irreverent but deeply personal account of his experiences about coming out and getting to know himself as a gay man.

Ballard’s humor is the inappropriate, unmerciful Gen-Y kind, but despite this is refreshingly unpretentious. The way he manages to pull this off? Simply by turning the spotlight onto him much of the time; he’s too self-depreciating to be full of himself. So even though one minute he’s making a cringe-worthy joke about banging his mum, the next he’s telling the story of how he managed to pull a hammy because he didn’t warm down after an acting audition.

There’s also a level of honesty that’s surprising. Hearing him admit that the word ‘faggot’ still comes to mind when a camp, glowstick-waving, bare bum-cheek flaunting man prances by, is telling of Ballard’s continuing transition from having an inbuilt heterosexual thought process, to… well, whatever he is now. ‘Gay’, he says, is merely the simplest description he can give of himself, rather than being something that defines him exactly. Sex to him is a ‘free and wild thing’, and since that sounds more like an escaped animal than a sexual preference, he’s probably right just to stick with the old pigeonhole of ‘gay’.

What’s great about this long winded, slightly confusing spiel is that it makes the show inclusive of everyone. It’s not just gays that will find it funny; there’s no ‘them and us’- except where ‘us’ means most decent people, and ‘them’ means the homophobes. As Ballard happily tells, most of his friends are still just that – his friends – who if anything, probably feel more ‘cultured’ because they’ve now got ‘a gay friend’. Those that weren’t supportive are few in number, and frankly (to quote) – are tools.

Tom Ballard is young, talented, gay, and proud. He wants you to be happy. He wants everyone to be just as happy as the lesbian he saw on the tram affectionately chomping at her girlfriend’s crotch. He might be rather up front at times, but all are welcome to partake in his metaphorical group hug. Be Aussie about it and get along while you can!

Tom Ballard Is What He Is Belvoir Street Theatre
February 15 – 27

For more details see the production’s Arts Hub event listing.

Bernadette Burke
About the Author
I am a radio presenter/producer, writer and curator from Sydney, Australia. My creative career began as a roadie/lighting assistant, and eventually I became a live sound engineer, working freelance in Sydney, then at the renowned 12 Bar Club in London, U.K. Moving on to interviewing bands, reviewing gigs, albums and writing music features later was a beautiful, natural progression for me. I am now a full time freelance music journalist working across print, online, radio and video production. More info: