For one television meteorologist, the weather has become a bit of a drag; actually, the meteorologist has dressed in drag. To celebrate Gay Pride Month, the ABC Australia weather presenter, Nate Byrne, decided to ditch his conservative appearance on-air to take on the persona of Gail Warnings, his drag namesake that Twitter users voted on.
Viewers knew something was up on June 13 when Byrne posted a hypothetical poll on Twitter asking, “if…a certain dimpled weather presenter needed a drag name, which would be best?” The name “Gail Warnings” rose to the top of the votes with 4,199 cast; Misty Showers was a close runner-up while Miss Thunder Stood and Summer Storms rounded out the list. Bryne also took to Twitter to explain that he also considered Nina Floods, Philma Oceans, Sultry Knight, Icee Winters, Dawn Oak, Amber Syke, and Beck Byrne.
The News Breakfast meteorologist documented the transformation on his social media channels, as well as on a segment for the morning newscast he’s a part of. Byrne discussed the challenges of transforming from a man to a woman and the extensive make-up that was used to introduce Gail Warnings to the world. During a segment that aired on News Breakfast, Byrne thanked Valerie Hex, the drag alter ego of James Wellsby, an MC at Melbourne’s Yummy Cabaret, for assisting with the character, and circus performer Jarred Dewey for helping him to complete the evolution from man to woman.
Not every viewer was appreciative of the transformation, though. “Not news, not interesting, its quite sickening actually” wrote one viewer on Twitter, in which Byrne replied, “Lol…I thought Gail was good, but ‘sickening’? Yaaaaaaaas! High praise.”
Byrne isn’t a stranger to alternative lifestyle criticism. In 2020, Byrne appeared on ABC’s first Mardi Gras float in the Melbourne, Australia parade. Byrne joined ABC makeup artist Kerrie Stanley and presenters Patricia Karvelas, Annabel Crabb and Fran Kelly on ABC’s float. With shiny silver shoes, rainbow socks, and a hint of glitter around his eyes, the morning meteorologist shared waves and smiles with crowds gathered for the event. Not everyone was pleased; one viewer took to Twitter to message the meteorologist, “Poofter, now you know why I won’t watch News Breakfast! This is a very sick world we live in.” Byrne replied, “It IS a sick world we live in – one where this kind of unproved spray of hated is still on the cards.” More people were complimentary than not of Byrne’s role in the parade, however. On Twitter, @SharpShard wrote, “Love to see you so free & happy. Yes to Australia that embraces the full spectrum of people and our differences, as underneath, we are all the same.”
Byrne joined ABC as Weather Presenter for their News Breakfast program in March 2017. Prior to the television job, Byrne achieved a Master of Science Communication with the Australian National University. Most of Byrne’s career was in the military: he spent more than 12 years as a Naval Officer as a Maritime Warfare Officer and as a Maritime Geospatial Officer dealing with both meteorology and oceanography for the Royal Australian Navy. Along the way, he also earned a Post-Graduate Certificate in Meteorology from the Bureau of Meteorology, the Australian equivalent of the National Weather Service.
In 2017, Bryne penned an essay describing the value and importance of being a science communicator, writing, “The best bit is when your forecast can be both informative and entertaining.” Adding that it’s important for a television weather person to be an effective communicator who can engage an audience and convey the importance of warnings and severe conditions, Byrne said appearance should not be a factor. He wrote, ” I’ll concede that for some outlets, the weather presenter is really a roving entertainment reporter who happens to read out the temperatures. For the rest, developing a significant understanding about the weather when you look at it every day is a given. It is on this that we should measure the value of a weather presenter. Not on their looks. Not on their clothes. And certainly not on their gender.”