Having been embraced by his peers and family after becoming the first student at his school to come out as gay at age 15, Tom Anderson knows he’s had a smooth journey compared to others in the LGBTQ community.
But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t face frequent hurdles – whether it’s having to shut down homophobic jokes, dating a man who hasn’t come out to his family or working in an industry dominated by straight males.
The 39-year-old builder is now competing on The Great Kiwi Bake Off in an effort to show anyone can pursue a trades career regardless of sexual identity.
“That ‘bro culture’ does creep in,” he tells Woman’s Day during his lunch break on an Auckland construction site. “Building’s perceived as laddish. It’s a hetero environment. But I want to show you don’t have to be straight or like cars to be a builder. You can be as gay as you like and love baking! It’s the same with making cakes – it can be fun for everybody, not just mums with kids.”
A big fan of The Australian Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake Book, it was his mum Linda who started Tom baking when he was growing up in northern England.
His first scouting badge was for cooking and by high school, he was baking birthday cakes for friends. Unsurprisingly, he was well-liked at school, which helped with his coming out experience.
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