HUMANS OF THE ISLANDS: Queer Coco a.k.a Saipele Vaimoso
Podcast/ Radio Show Host & Personality
Tell us a little bit about yourself: where were you born and raised and what ethnicity are you?
I am Saipele Vaimoso (29) and I’m Samoan. My mum comes from the villages of Vaisala, Sasatele and Falealili; my dad is from Vaimoso, Faleapuna and Falefa. I was born in Otahuhu, South Auckland and grew up in Otara. Brisbane, Australia is where I’ve resided since I was 15 years old.
For those who don't know about Queer Coco podcast, what is it and why did you start it?
I started the Queer Coco Podcast to tell my own story as a Gay Samoan man and it has now evolved into platform for other Queer Pasifika & Maori people to tell theirs. I would like the Podcast to be a resource for not only our QPM Youth and our allies but also for parents.
You have particularly spoken about your experience growing up as a Queer Person in the Pacific Community. What issues do queer people face in Pacific communities that you think we don't talk about enough?
Generally speaking, our community sweep a lot of inconvenient truths under the rug because almost everything under the sun is taboo. Many of our queer people live double lives in that they shield their true identities from their families and only let a few people into their “secret”. From talking to other queer folk about coming out to their families, there is a common thread and that is their families already knew and were waiting for them to say it. Ignorance is bliss.
It’s important to create spaces for dialogue about anything and everything, If you have an inkling or suspect that someone in your life is struggling to come to terms with their identity OR know the repercussions of them coming out to their parents, create that safe space for them and be their sounding board.
Who have been some influential people in your life that have helped you along your own journey in coming to terms with your identity?
It only takes one person in your life to help you through and that person for me has been my sister/cousin Nesa. Although I didn’t completely come out to her and my family until I was 19/20 years old, I’ve always felt safe being my authentic self with her. She’s been my biggest cheer leader in everything that I do and the Podcast has been no different.
What are some major challenges you faced in terms of creating the podcast?
Although I’m a naturally very inquisitive person, I am not a natural interviewer. I am always nervous before talking to any of my guests, even ones that I’ve been friends with for years. It is that paired with imposter syndrome that many of us struggle with that has lead me to not put out an episode for sometimes weeks at a time.
What are some of your proud moments in creating the podcast?
There have been many and we’re only getting started. My mum is a listener and to me, there’s no bigger compliment.
I am also proud of all of the guests that have told their stories. Some of these brave people haven’t come out to their own families yet but were so willing to share their truths for the greater good of our community. I am indebted to them all.
You also host a radio show (Pacific Wave Radio) with Kimaea Kirifi-Aliifaalogo. Why do you think that Pacific Wave Radio is an important show for the community, especially considering it's kaupapa?
Pacific Wave is a weekly hour-long radio show targeted to the Pasifika and Maori youth of Brisbane. My beautiful and charismatic co-host and friend Kimaea approached me to be a guest on the show shortly after the launch of Queer Coco and the rest is history.
Shows like Pacific Wave are important because of representation. The lack of diversity in media means that our brown youth can’t see themselves outside of the boxes that they’ve been put in and that keeps them from seeking better lives for not only them, but their families.
The guests that we invite on are Pasifika and Maori individuals that are excelling in their chosen fields and are doing amazing work within and for our community.
Podcast and radio shows like the ones you have created play a big part in changing perspectives around Pacific Identity, which can be difficult. What keeps you going and keeps you empowered?
I have to constantly remind myself of my purpose and the young people whose families are not as accepting as mine. You never know who is tuning in and who’s life you’ve saved just by existing and sharing your truth.
Does your Samoan heritage play a part in the issues you talk about on Queer Coco? How?
It does! I talk a lot about the role of the ‘fa’afafine’ in the Samoan household and that is my biggest struggle right now. It is implied that as the gay son, I will not contribute to the blood line and therefore my role is to look after my parents as they grow old. With every decision that I make for my own personal growth, I always have my parents’ well-being in the back of my mind.
What is the best thing about being Samoan?
The best thing about being Samoan is that you are never short on family and that we love to congregate. Admittedly, as an introvert myself, it is also the worst (ha!).
Lastly, for any other young Pacific people who want to create content, or are just trying to find a way to come to terms with their identity, what advice would you give them?
My advice would be to just create, create and create some more! As a creative, I’ve tried my hand at many things and always focused on one thing at a time. It works for some people but for some of us we get so claustrophobic from being boxed into ONE purpose that it can be crippling and can have devastating effects on our progression and mental health.
For those struggling with their identity, I’d say find you that one person that you trust with everything and tell them who you are. For me, it was the catalyst to eventually being comfortable enough with coming out to the rest of MY world.
Click below to tune in Queer Coco's Podcast and to keep up with him on social media:
Facebook: Queer Coco