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Comment > Let's Hear It For The Boys by Carol Ann Wood

When Nate Kinski (Meyne Wyatt) first turned up at the Kennedys' house, no one was sure how his character was going to develop. A nephew of Susan’s from her previous marriage (to his late uncle Alex) Nate seemed rather evasive about his past. What we did know, however, was that he had toured Afghanistan twice with the Australian infantry, and that he was openly gay.

Initially, Nate presented as a very defensive person; he didn’t trust others, finding it hard to open up and express his feelings. He had seen terrible atrocities in war, and lost several soldier friends. Indeed the initial reason he visited Erinsborough was because he was in the area to attend a serviceman’s funeral. Despite Nate seeming so unwilling to talk, the one thing he did seem to be confident about was his sexual orientation. There being only one other gay character in Ramsay Street, we could guess, once it was clear he was sticking around, he would soon be involved in a relationship with Chris Papas.

Chris, unlike Nate, had not been out of the closet for very long, and had struggled to gain his father’s acceptance. The relationship between he and Nate was destined to be short-lived. Having agreed to be a sperm-donor for single-but-broody Lucy Robinson, Chris realised that he wanted to be actively involved in his child’s upbringing. It was obvious that Nate wasn’t on board with the idea of having a child in their lives. After Lucy became pregnant, Chris suggested that they both move to New York, Lucy’s home. Nate declined the invitation, and Chris’s desire to be a father proved to be a stronger pull than the love he felt for Nate. Chris bid farewell, and the two, sadly, albeit fairly amicably, split up.

By this time, viewers had started to warm to the lighter side of Nate’s personality, which was emerging little by little. His interactions with Sheila when first learning the ropes of working at Lassiter’s were amusing. The two developed a competitive friendship, with one always trying to outdo the other. In contrast to Nate’s early personality, when he seemed only to scowl and answer questions in monosyllables, he began to reveal his dry sense of humour. This new side to Nate became more apparent when Tyler Brennan (Travis Burns) – brother of Mark – arrived in Erinsborough. Tyler proved to be a good friend for Nate, who started to let his hair down. The pair bonded over activities like racing remote-control cars, and from that point, you felt that Nate was finally one of the lads. We also guessed that Nate wouldn’t be left single for long.

Chris leaving the scene created the cue for another gay character to rock up. This was in the shape of Mark and Tyler’s brother, sunny-natured Aaron (Matt Wilson). And in true soap love-story fashion, Nate and Aaron took an instant dislike to one another, despite Tyler’s numerous attempts to match them up. We all saw through the dislike, of course, but it makes a nice scenario and builds up the suspense.

Bit by bit, Aaron became intrigued by Nate, wanting to find out what made him tick. Nate, though, continued to scowl, waggle his infamous eyebrows and growl one-word responses to Aaron’s tentative flirting. However, Aaron was not going to be easily dissuaded. The whole ‘boys-in-a-box’ scene, which Naomi set up to promote the Lassiter’s romantic weekend package, was Neighbours humour at its best, even if a little far-fetched. Was the kiss just an act for the audience, or was it for real? Nate reverted to his grumpy self and declared it the former. After that highly-charged moment, there was much embarrassment and tension between the boys, which seemed to last an age. Some viewers remarked that, as it was fairly obvious the two fancied one another, it was about time the writers moved the story forwards.

Aaron and Nate have had several false starts, with an abundance of silly misunderstandings. Nate was reluctant to let Aaron know that he was the knight in shining armour who rescued him after he was beaten up. Aaron, being a romantic, was determined to uncover the truth. He thought that it might be fate, and that whoever recused him could be the love of his life. When he realised that Nate knew the identity of the rescuer, Aaron badgered him until Nate admitted that it was he himself, just to shut Aaron up. Aaron was delighted to know the truth, but Nate simply shrugged off Aaron’s admiration and put up his emotional barrier again. It made the ‘all-knowing’ viewer want to bang their heads together.

Eventually, the two started dating, although this wasn’t without trials and tribulations. Even now that they’re officially together, the two still sometimes misinterpret each other’s likes and dislikes. This is not helped by the ‘Sheila Canning advice service’. (For ‘advice’, read ‘meddling’!) Nate thought that his dancer man, Aaron, would love cocktails. Arranging a cocktails-and-fancy-food night at Karl and Susan’s, Nate was out of his depth with the mixers. Poor Aaron, believing that it was Nate who loved making cocktails, did his best to convince him that he was doing fine, albeit the strange taste of the drinks proved too much for him to fake enjoyment. The boys began to talk more openly, saw the funny side of things, and Nate confessed that he much preferred a beer and a burger. Bingo! I like the humorous side of Nate which Aaron has helped tease out. Only Aaron could get away with calling Nate ‘eyebrows’. Others might not want to try it!

Fine dining seems to figure high on the list of Nate and Aaron’s social activities. Thinking that it was time for Susan and Karl to get to know Aaron better, Nate invited him over for dinner. Again, a misunderstanding nearly ruined the evening. Karl had been advised not to mention his music, and given that it’s his favourite topic, it was no easy feat for him! Uncomfortable silences prevailed until an unsuspecting Aaron begged Karl to talk songs. The temptation was too much for Karl, much to Susan’s and Nate’s dismay. Especially as Aaron was genuinely interested and he and Karl engaged in deep in conversation. Eventually, the Kennedys were badgered into going out for dessert, with Nate practically ushering them out the door. You had to smile at Nate’s cheek. Whose house is it, again? And whoever goes out for dessert? But presumably, Susan and Karl are just happy that this once-difficult stranger they’d taken under their wing, was blossoming in life and love. After all, if we evaluate the relationships which have recently imploded on Ramsay Street, Nate and Aaron are becoming one of the most stable pairings!

Currently, Aaron sometimes stays overnight with Nate at the Kennedy house, and all is well in romance. I hope that this remains the case, as I think they make an interesting, maybe more dynamic match than Nate and Chris. Nate needs someone like Aaron, happy-go-lucky, upbeat and positive, to keep him on an even-keel, because PTSD doesn’t just disappear. Stressful situations can be a trigger, and Aaron has the personality to pull his boyfriend back from any such occurrence. Nate is probably equally good for Aaron, who tends to jog along without too much thought for the future. He never worries about work, so long as he make enough to get by. He is currently recovering from an injury and so cannot dance. Nate might be able to convince him that it’s always a good idea to have a plan B. That said, Nate needs to guard against his jealousy when Aaron performs. If he wants to be with Aaron, he has to accept that dancing is something he enjoys. Perhaps Nate and Aaron will put their skills together into a business enterprise, in time to come. Who knows?

The current storyline involving Nate and Aaron in their quest to expose Erinsborough Mayor, Paul Robinson’s underhand dealings is intriguing, and poses interesting questions about Nate and Aaron’s developing relationship. Asked by their friend Josh Willis, Aaron’s former dance-partner, if he could retrieve files from an encrypted hard-drive – the one which Naomi stole from Paul before she left for America – Nate agrees help, gleaning the techniques from a former colleague in the military.

Whilst Josh is looking for evidence that it was Paul who was behind the planting of drugs on him – to set him up, as revenge for sleeping with Paul’s ex, Naomi – Nate uncovers something else. He is furious when he decrypts e-mails which reveal that Paul has been in favour of the closure of Erinsborough High School, likely for his own financial gain. This is a potentially far more serious matter, in the light of the recent near-fatal fire at the school. Nate is angry on behalf of his aunt, Susan, Erinsborough High’s principal, but is cautious about how to handle his discovery. However, once he reveals the discovery to Aaron, the genie is out of the bottle.

Aaron doesn’t hold back, and sends the incriminating e-mails to the newspaper. When Mayor Robinson’s nephew, Daniel overhears his friends’ disagreement about how to handle what they have found, events spiral. Daniel, long disgusted by his uncle’s dodgy business dealings, wants his uncle exposed. Working with Nate and Aaron, they discover even more. Paul has established a number of property companies which, seemingly independently of one another, have been buying up swathes of Erinsborough to provide space for a luxury housing development.

Since his exposure in the West Waratah Star, Paul claims he has received death threats, and has asked Aaron to be his bodyguard. Nate and Aaron fret about how things are turning out. Viewers might be wondering if Paul suspects their involvement in uncovering his dodgy dealings. Aaron is in a dilemma; he’s currently unemployed and needs the money, so if he declines Paul’s offer, it will look suspicious. But if he accepts, can the boys be sure that this isn’t part of a plan for Paul to set Aaron up? I only hope that whatever the outcome, it will not put too much strain on Nate and Aaron’s relationship.

If the writers choose to keep Nate and Aaron as a couple, it would be great to see the two of them set up home for themselves in the street. I have greatly enjoyed watching them become involved with – and bringing out the best in – one another. In short, the boys are cool. Let’s hear it for the boys!

This article originally appeared on Carol's blog, Levelling The Playing Field.