25 January 2007
National Hui Will Promote Acceptance And Support For Queer Youth
Improved acceptance and support for gay, lesbian, transgender and takataapui youth in the community is one of the aims of the Kaha Queer Youth Hui, to be held at Wellington’s Tapu Te Ranga Marae this weekend. The hui is being run by the OUT THERE Youth Development Project, which aims to create communities that are safe and inclusive of sexuality and gender diversity. The project uses the word “queer” as an umbrella term to encompass lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, fa’afafine, and takataapui identities.
Around 70 young gay, lesbian, takataapui and transgender community leaders from all over the country will attend the hui. “Kaha is a tool to help build queer young people’s capacity to support themselves and each other in the communities they come from, especially schools where research shows queer youth to be particularly vulnerable,” Brown says. “12.9% of non-heterosexual students are bullied at least once a week.”
A special forum at Kaha will discuss how queer youth can encourage acceptance in their local communities and schools, building on the achievements of groups like NAGS (Nayland Alliance of Gays and Straights), which has been running at Nayland College in Nelson since 2002.
“Homophobic environments, isolation and invisibility damage the morale, emotional and physical well-being of queer youth, and groups like NAGS help develop and maintain safe and supportive learning environments,” Brown says. “We’d like to see groups like this in every high school.”
Kaha will also include workshops on drug/alcohol issues, sexuality and relationships, safe sex and HIV. There will be a Q&A session with MPs Maryan Street and Charles Chauvel, and New Zealand AIDS Foundation chair Jeremy Lambert will discuss activism and the media.
“We hope that by the end of the weekend, more queer youth will know where to go for help and support when they need it,” Brown says. “It’s about making new connections, building confidence, and increasing awareness of the issues facing queer youth in Aotearoa New Zealand.” Kaha is a three-day event taking place at Tapu Te Ranga Marae in Wellington on the weekend of January 26-28, 2007. More information can be found on the Out There website: www.outthere.org.nz/kaha
New Zealand Herald ( www.nzherald.co.nz )
February 15, 2007
Parliament farewells first transsexual MP
The world’s first transsexual MP Georgina Beyer came into Parliament making a joke about her sexuality and left yesterday on the same note. In her maiden speech Ms Beyer joked that she was the stallion that became a gelding, then a mayor (of Carterton) and then she became a member. "Well Madame Speaker can I say to you at this point that while I have relished the opportunity at being a member in this House I am glad I don’t possess one," she said in her valedictory speech last night. But it was not all lightness and laughter as she talked about the difficult decision to support Labour over the foreshore and seabed legislation.
"I am Maori but I held a general seat and my electorate wanted me to support the Government." However, she was listening to family and Maori who opposed it. "We all actually experience from time to time being torn in this way." Ms Beyer said her biggest achievement was being elected.
"The first transsexual in the world to be elected to a Parliament … it was inspirational in itself." She praised colleagues Chris Carter, who was New Zealand’s first openly gay MP, and Tim Barnett. "This has got to add to our country that significant minorities can have a voice, can have a say and can stand for representation in this House." Other achievements included support for prostitution reform and the legislation enabling civil unions.
"I will not resile ever from being a staunch supporter for both of those." She was also proud to have supported the Labour programme. "I will always be a person that will have the utmost respect for democracy. I have been pleased and proud to be a positive participant in our society. I am so glad that I have been able to redeem my more lurid past and practise proper rights of being a citizen of this country. "I could ask for no more than that and whatever my future holds this will have to have been the greatest moment of my life."
After her speech Ms Beyer was kissed and hugged by colleagues from several parties. She was MP for Wairarapa from 1999 until 2005 then continued as a list MP. Ms Beyer is considering running against incumbent Wellington City Mayor Kerry Prendergast. She will be replaced by Southland union organiser Lesley Soper.
13 March 2007
Coming Out in Sport
It seems an eternity now, but it was 1995 that Ian Roberts announced to the world that he was gay, in the process taking the Rugby League world by storm. Well, most of it anyway. There had been all sorts of rumours and innuendo surrounding the International forward, and once an article appeared in American magazine “The Advocate”, the closet door had swung wide open. Not that Roberts was in denial – he was proudly homosexual, telling his family many years earlier.
Many were aware of his sexual preference already, but there was a long-held agreement between the player and the media that the topic did not need to be mentioned. Once the announcement was made, there was genuine hope that Roberts’ decision to come out would provide an opportunity to others in the same boat to do the same. A brave move in the macho world of football, it was going to ease the way for other sports men and women to stand proud, and be who they want to be.
Sadly, it hasn’t worked that way.
Whilst society in general is more tolerant of homosexuality – on the surface anyway – this does not seem to be reflected in the sporting world. Particularly in the testosterone-fuelled arena that is male sport. Female tennis players aside (Navratilova, King, Mauresmo), there are precious few international sports stars that have announced their homosexuality in the way that most hoped after Ian Roberts came out. Is that a reflection of the tolerance of the WTA circuit, or is it the lack of tolerance elsewhere?
Greg Louganis springs to mind, but his decision to announce his homosexuality to the world was made after he was diagnosed with AIDS. The same applies to American Footballer Jerry Smith. So what is stopping others from coming out? When Roberts came out, he was asked to compare what he had been through, with that of David Kopay – an American Footballer, and regarded as the first openly gay American sports person, particularly in relation to the fallout after the announcement:
“He (Kopay) was only a fringe player, his story is just the tip of the iceberg compared with what I’ve been through”. And he is quite right. A few weeks after Ian Roberts announced he was gay, the taunting, ignorance and intolerance that was spewing forth from crowds all over Australia and New Zealand was mind blowing.
Yet New Zealand has openly gay MP’s on both sides of the house, and a recently retired transsexual – a world first. It appears we are more comfortable with having openly gay men and women as our leaders rather than as our sports stars. It is strange stuff. Whilst it would appear that society is getting better at watching a lesbian couple tickling each other’s tonsils on Shortland Street, they just couldn’t stomach the thought of a gay man playing for the All Blacks.
Let’s face it, rugby has traditionally been the cornerstone of core heterosexual values in this country, and despite the close physical contact involved, it remains the last bastion of the good looking straight guy. Adding weight to this theory is the fact that golf, hardly the bastion of macho bravado, has been rampantly heterosexual. So perhaps it is the conservative nature of men’s sport, rather than the perceived macho nature of such competition that has caused this imbalance of homosexuals in the spotlight.
Hypocrisy? Of course it is.
And all that hypocrisy does is reinforce the perception that if you’re gay, life isn’t going to be easy on the football field if you announce your preference to the opposition – or in some cases, your teammates. When an All Black captain lifts the Rugby World Cup and wishes to thank his civil union partner, then we have come a long way as a nation. But don’t hold your breath.
April 26, 2007
NZ gay teens targeted by bullies
Students who admit to being lesbian or gay during their teenage years are more likely to be bullied and less likely to succeed in education, a Massey University study says. The Lavender Islands survey, the most extensive survey of gays and lesbians to be done in New Zealand, found that declaring their sexuality at a young age is associated with bullying and lower educational achievement. People who had gone on to higher education were more likely to come out later in life.
The study, which questioned more than 2000 lesbian, gay and bisexual people, found that two-thirds of female respondents and three-quarters of males surveyed had been verbally abused at school because of their sexuality. 9% of women and 18% of men had been physically assaulted. Just over half of the respondents said they were ‘outed’ by someone without their permission, and 46% said they had been bullied.
One 16-year-old in the survey said when her friend was outed as a lesbian at school the girl became a ‘social pariah’. "People whisper about her wherever she goes and most of my friends bitch about her behind her back," she wrote.
The study’s author, Mark Henrickson, a senior lecturer in social work at Massey University, said it highlighted a ‘critical need’ for teachers and others to support the needs of gay and lesbian teenagers. This month, Out There, a project for young LGBT people, called for more work to be done in schools following the release of a report by the New Zealand Parliamentarians’ Group on Population and Development which recommended that all schools should have anti-bullying and anti-homophobia policies.
"Schools have a lot of work to do in terms of providing a safe environment for queer young people," Out There spokesman Nathan Brown said. "Teachers who are already working within the system to provide non-judgmental and supportive learning environments need to be supported at the highest levels of school policy."
New Zealand Principals’ Federation president Judy Hanna said schools had to ensure a safe environment for all students. "The bottom line is that children should be safe at school emotionally as well as physically," she said. Registrations are now open for the second ‘Safety in Schools For Queers’ conference, to be held in July. More details available on the link below.
1 May 2007
Nothing’s too gay for Christchurch Pride Week!
Press Release: AIDS Foundation
There’ll be no such thing as “too gay” at Christchurch Pride Week 2007, which begins Saturday May 12. Over 40 events will be held during the annual week of celebration and affirmation for Christchurch’s gay, lesbian and transgender communities at venues all around the city, say organisers at the New Zealand AIDS Foundation.
“This is the third year we’ve run Pride Week, and it’s growing bigger each time,” says Gay Men’s Health Promoter Brent Mitchell. “Last year we had around 1,500 people take part in the week, with a huge range of events from dance parties and social gatherings through to safe sex workshops and we’d like to see an even bigger turnout this year.” Pride Week was initiated by the New Zealand AIDS Foundation in 2005 after consultations with the local gay male community. “Christchurch isn’t the easiest city to be open about your sexuality in, and our communities are quite fragmented,” Mitchell says. “Pride Week is a great way of bringing a diverse bunch of people together, at a time when HIV awareness is especially important.”
A total of 70 gay and bisexual men were diagnosed with HIV in 2006 – one every five days. Gay and bisexual men remain by far the highest risk group for HIV, comprising 80% of last year’s total HIV diagnoses where infection occurred in New Zealand. “The condom message is a big part of Pride Week, but this is also about building strong communities,” Mitchell says. “Money raised during Pride Week goes back into the local glbt community.” Pride Week kicks off on Saturday May 12 with the Mr and Ms Pride Competition at CRUZ Bar, and finishes on Sunday May 20 with the annual AIDS Candlelight Memorial, commemorating those who have lost their lives to the most deadly disease of modern times.
“We’d especially like to thank the glbt businesses, sponsors and individual volunteers who have come on board this year,” says Mitchell. “We couldn’t make Pride Week happen without you.”
A full event programme is available at: www.chchprideweek.org.nz
7 May 2007
Press Release: AIDS Foundation
PRESS RELEASE: May 7, 2007
Asian gay men renew commitment to safe sex
The New Zealand AIDS Foundation’s Gay Men’s Health team is to launch its first resource aimed at raising HIV awareness among Asian gay and bisexual men on Friday May 11 in Auckland. The resource comprises a poster, featuring five out and proud gay Asian men – including Gay Men’s Health Promoter Valeriano (Val) Incapas – with the heading “Be proud and strong – Renew your commitment to safe sex, no exceptions.”
“Gay men make up a significant part of the growing Asian migrant population, as many Asian countries are very vocal in condemning homosexuality,” Incapas says. “Gay men in Asian countries often are forced to move where they feel they can live and express themselves more freely, countries like New Zealand.” Asian gay men are also part of the wider community of men who have sex with men, who are the highest risk group for HIV infection in New Zealand. 70 new gay and bisexual diagnoses were recorded in 2006 – one every five days.
“Up until now, there has been a lack of visible role models for Asian gay and bisexual men to encourage open discussion about the importance of condom use in preventing HIV,” Incapas says. “Without the skills of handling themselves in a community with different social rules, and often coming to New Zealand with no condom culture, Asian gay men can be vulnerable to being taken advantage of.”
The poster features men from Singapore, the Philipines, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Tahiti. All the men are profiled on an accompanying flier, along with individual messages about why they value safe sex.
“This is about standing proud and taking a leadership role in our own communities to help turn the HIV epidemic around,” Incapas says. “But HIV isn’t confined to one particular group or ethnicity – as gay and bisexual men, we are all susceptible because of the risk of transmission via anal sex. We must all renew our commitment to using a condom every time.”
April 12, 2007
Pacific told it can’t ignore threat of AIDS
by Angela Gregory
Pacific politicians have been told to get out of a "denial" mentality and show strong leadership on tackling HIV-Aids or face a crisis of African proportions. An Australian High Court judge, Justice Michael Kirby, told a regional meeting on the issue in Auckland yesterday that he had witnessed the follies of sub-Saharan Africa whose leaders had, at a crucial period, not wanted to tackle the growing problem of Aids.
Justice Kirby, who was a member of the inaugural World Health Organisation’s global commission on Aids (1988-92), said he had been invited to South Africa to advise the country of the strategies of New Zealand and Australia, both which had shown good leadership on the issue.
"But they didn’t listen. I told them about what we had done like major public education, ethics in school education, promotion of condom availability and use."In Papua New Guinea, with a population 5.5 million, the rate of new HIV diagnoses had increased at about 30 per cent a year since 1977, raising the potential for a rapid onset in other Pacific islands. Some 1.8 per cent of the adult population was infected with HIV and the prevalence in urban areas might be as high as 3.5 per cent, comparable to the situation in sub-Saharan Africa.
"Do not repeat in the Pacific the southern African experience of neglect, denial and inaction." Justice Kirby said politicians had to be upfront and truthful and recommended the decriminalisation of sex workers and other measures. Churches also needed to get involved in the struggle.
The UN resident co-ordinator Papua New Guinea, Jacqui Badcock, agreed strong leadership was crucial, saying: "Without it, tackling the tough and sensitive issues associated with HIV, going against the stream of prejudice and ignorance and ensuring a society-wide and multi-sectoral response is hard to imagine."
Work was needed to address the injustice and legal impediments that hindered addressing HIV in the Pacific region where women were increasingly being infected by unfaithful husbands or partners. Papua New Guinea’s Health Minister, Sir Peter Barter, told the Herald it was up to leaders to fight the disease and his country had done more on the issue than its Pacific neighbours. "The rest of the Pacific is in a state of denial."
He said stigmatism against those with HIV had been radically reduced in PNG in just a couple of years. "You can now go to villages and talk about HIV because of the awareness." A visit to Africa last year brought new ideas that had been put in place such as the rapid testing for HIV, which could give a result in 20 minutes. Those infected with HIV were now being treated "at the front of hospital not the back" – a far cry from a decade ago when some highland villagers killed AIDS sufferers.
The Samoan Deputy Prime Minister, Misa Telefoni Retzlaff, said when he started taking a strong leadership role on HIV-Aids about 12 years ago his political enemies put out a story that he was a "closet queen". "It takes guts in our island communities to be an HIV activist." Mr Retzlaff said political leaders needed to more aggressively harness their communities to do something about the disease.
Nauru’s Health Minister, Dr Kieren Keke, said it was hard to raise issues such as the need for sex education in schools without a community backlash. There was an underground prostitution industry in Nauru – a high risk group in the small country with no known cases of HIV yet – but any attempt to decriminalise it would meet strong resistance. Dr Keke said the strong church influence was part of the problem.
The UNAIDS co-ordinator Pacific sub-region, Stuart Watson, said there were encouraging signs from the churches, although the rhetoric did not always meet the reality. In 2005, Pacific churches had apologised to people living with HIV-Aids for any inadvertent discrimination in the past. Mr Watson said legal measures such as protecting confidentiality in testing and health care were needed in many countries to help combat the disease. "We want to ensure the rights of those living with HIV."
People with HIV-AIDS could face judgmental treatment from health workers and face other consequences of a deep social stigma.
May 16, 2007
Chch Pride Week: Half-time round-up
Christchurch Pride Week organiser Brent Mitchell says we’re halfway through the busy calendar of events, and has updated us on what’s been happening. “On the opening Day, Pride tennis was on at Hagley park, and it was a glorious day, about eight keen punters were out enjoying the sun and sport,” he begins. “That evening there was the Pride week opening at CRUZ, where Douglas Jenkin, Team Leader, Gay Men’s Health Officially opening Christchurch Pride week 2007. Thirty-five Invited guests attended. The Lesbian Vegetarian Dining Group went to the Mexican Cafe, and they had 17 people turn up. It ended up being a bit gay as one guy turned up, but all had fun in a noisy but fun atmosphere!”
Two events started at 9pm that night – ‘Trade at the BOX’ and the Pimps and Prostitutes party at local men’s safe sex venues, then the Mr & Ms Pride competition and show packed CRUZ nightclub. On Sunday, Rainbow Families had their pool party at Centennial pool, and a pack of the eager ‘Lambda Trampers’ set out toward Akaroa for a tramp up to Purple Peak, “a fitting destination for Pride Week,” laughs Mitchell. “The track cut through some light forest and farmland, which made for a comfortable journey.
“The trip turned unexpectedly into a catered event when the group spotted some edible mushrooms and an apple tree near Heritage Park on the way towards the peak. After lunch, it wasn’t too much further to Purple Peak, which offered a vividly coloured view of the farmland and water below. The easy descent kept the lovely scenery in sight all the way down, ending with the quaint landscape of downtown Akaroa, where the group recuperated over a few cappuccinos. All in all, it was another enjoyable weekend for the Lambda Trampers.”
The ‘Shoot at the Box’ sportswear party also happened on the Sunday afternoon. “The All saints MCC Pride week church service, happened at Nancy Ave Church, a big thanks to Neil and Val, for a great service. Tony Milne was guest speaker for the night.” The Diversity Liaison Officers put on ‘Lets get Cheesy’ at the Central police station on Monday afternoon. “About twenty people turned up to hear from the DLO’s about their role in the community to support GLBTI people. The Cheese was great, so thanks Don, and Deb initially for a great night,” says Mitchell. “Last night was gay night at the Pool, and again about twenty people attended and had fun splashing around either doing laps or relaxing in the spa, steam and sauna. Thanks to Bruce for organising this event.”
Today’s activities include a Rainbow Morning Tea with the Step Ahead Rainbow Trust, an Agender Pride Week Lunch, Sophie’s Pride Week Dinner, ‘Gay Bingo’ at Heaven’s Above, and ‘Bowl-O-Rama’ with Q-Topia.
July 09, 2007
Tuesday TV’s gay, lesbian & intersex stories
A look at the issues affecting intersex people, an exploration of gay rural life in Northland, and a TV presenter decks himself out in leather – tomorrow night’s television features stories from several walks of local LGBTI life. Beginning with Takataapui on Maori Television at 10.30pm, the Executive Director of the Intersex Trust of Aotearoa talks through the importance of raising awareness of the issues affecting intersex people – those born with ambiguous gender. ‘Ask Your Auntie’ panellist, actor, and New Zealand Sign Language Interpreter Tania Simon is also profiled.
The Outlook’s third episode follows on TV2 at 11.05pm, featuring an insight into rural life in Northland with the ‘Gay in the Bay’ group, lesbian public speaker Amanda Fleming, and a look and the issues involved with sperm donation in New Zealand. Previous episodes of The Outlook are available to download from TVNZ’s ondemand website – linked below. There is a small cost for downloading the PGR (parental guidance recommended) programme – which TVNZ says ensures either the person downloading is over the age of 18, or has an input of parental guidance.
Gay alternative music TV presenter Dennis Petrone will present his live segment in a full leather outfit at 11.35pm. "The leather culture typically includes both a style of dress and an affiliation with Bondage/Discipline, Dominance/Submission or Sado/Masochism – also called BDSM,” he explains. “It should be fun… I’ll be hitting the gym everyday now in anticipation,” he laughs. See his appearance on Alt TV’s ‘Curiosity’ show, on Auckland UHF frequency 62 or Sky Channel 65.
14th September 2007
‘Tranny Granny’ Grant on High Court bench
by GayNZ.com News Staff
It’s believed to be the first time a transgender New Zealander has sat as a member of a High Court bench – but ‘Tranny Granny’ Jacquie Grant says she’s not sure what the fuss is about. "What’s the difference?" she asked newspaper reporters at the court.
Grant was one of two Human Rights Review Tribunal members sitting with Justice Denis Clifford on an appeal against a tribunal ruling at Wellington Court on Wednesday. Hokitika-based Grant has fostered more than 60 children, and now has numerous grandchildren. She recently organised trans-legend Carmen Rupe’s surprise 70th birthday celebration, judged Christchurch Pride Week’s ‘Mr & Mrs Chch Pride Week’ show and appeared on TV2’s ‘The Outlook’ programme.
Grant was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 1998 for services to the community.
Bob meets Professor Marilyn Waring (podcast link)
October 8th, 2007
“Gays and lesbians are just another group of people who have not been offered equality and dignity in society” She’s an activist, feminist, author, former parliamentarian, and now Professor at Auckland University of Technology. Bob chats with Marilyn Waring about New Zealand’s civil unions, why “equivalence is not the same as equality”, and where to from here?
Catch Billy & Bob’s live One in Ten show on George FM – Monday nights from 10pm for gay news, guests, what’s on guide, giveaways and a mix of music.
20th December 2007
"’Gay’ does not mean ‘crappy’"-OUTLine NZ
By GayNZ.com News Staff
3:45pm: Whangarei woman Deena Pawson’s dismissal from her job at The Warehouse because of entries on her Bebo page regarding her employer highlights how gay and lesbian people are maligned through the use of abusive words, says the manager of a leading LGBT support network. "Although the user does not recognise any sexual connection to the word [gay], it is still there and the word is still as harmful when commonly used as a tool against a minority," says OUTLine NZ’s general manager Neil Denney.
Pawson’s Bebo page had stated that having to work after midnight was "gay like the management," and an employment lawyer has been quoted in the NZ Herald saying the word ‘gay’ might have been used to mean ‘crappy’. "Ms. Pawson sees the word as having no sexual connotation or ill-harm – however she then aligns it with the meaning "crappy" or no good," he explains. "If the modern interpretation of the word ‘gay’ for Ms. Pawson is that it is ‘crappy’ or no good, then by her very definition she is saying that being gay is crappy."
Gays, lesbians and transgender people struggle each day with the negative perceptions and homophobia associated with our sexual orientation, Denney points out. "As an organisation, OUTLine NZ cannot agree that the word ‘gay’ has a meaning of "crappy" under any circumstance." Denney says Pawson’s comments demonstrates that New Zealand still has a long way to go before stereotypes about LGBT people are broken down. "Ms. Pawson obviously does not realize the harm words can do not only to an organisation but more importantly to an individual, especially when the individual is struggling to find their own identity as a gay man or lesbian woman in society.
"Use of the word gay in Ms. Pawson’s context can do great harm… She needs to rethink her interpretation of the word and see how harmful it can be. An exercise she can do would be to use a word describing any other minority in place of her use of the word ‘gay’ and see if she still thinks it is not offensive."
18th January 2008
Transgender report demands law change
by GayNZ.com News Staff
The Human Rights Commission is calling for a simple amendment to the Births, Deaths and Marriages Act that would allow trans people to obtain birth certificates and passports that reflect their gender identity and sex. The Commission’s Transgender Inquiry report entitled To Be Who I Am – released this week – recommends that an amendment to the Births, Deaths and Marriages Act 1995 would make it clear that a person who had taken "decisive steps to live fully and permanently in the gender identity of the nominated sex" could be issued a document that accurately recorded their sex.
The extensive and thought to be world-first inquiry into the lives of transgender New Zealanders found that the majority of trans people are unable to assert their citizenship by changing the sex on their birth certificate and passport so it reflects their gender identity. This added to the burden of discrimination many transgender people faced. Joy Liddicoat, the lead commissioner on the Transgender Inquiry said, "We consider it quite possible to change the criteria for changing sex details without creating concerns about the continued integrity of state-issued documents like birth certificates and passports." Four out of five submissions to the Inquiry described examples of serious discrimination from harassment at work to assault and sexual abuse. "Transgender people face enormous barriers to safely doing things that many other New Zealanders take for granted," she said.
The Transgender Report highlights four areas for immediate attention: increasing participation of trans people in decisions that affect them, strengthening the legal protections making discrimination against trans people unlawful, improving access to health services, including gender reassignment services, and simplifying requirements for change of sex on a birth certificate, passport and other documents. The safety and rights of young transgender New Zealanders at school was another concern brought up by the inquiry. Many schools refuse to acknowledge a change of name, ignored bullying and got into conflicts with youths about what they wore to school.
And because the Inquiry heard from many intersex New Zealanders, the Inquiry further recommends that the human rights issues experienced by intersex people merit urgent attention. The Transgender Inquiry has looked at three key areas: personal experiences of discrimination; difficulties accessing health services; and the barriers transgender people face when trying to have their gender status legally recognised on documents like birth certificates and passports. Chief Human Rights Commissioner Rosslyn Noonan said, "We have come to respect the courage of transgender people who despite significant hurdles have been successful in leading lives of dignity throughout the country."
The HRC’s full report can be downloaded as a PDF from their official website – link below.
27th February 2008
Out in the Square – Wellington’s Gay & Lesbian Fair
By Out Wellington Inc.
Out Wellington Inc. is proud to announce details of Out in the Square – Wellington’s gay and lesbian fair – on from 10am until 5pm on Saturday 1 March 2008 in Civic Square! The fair has been run at the Newtown School for 22 years, and this year, thanks to Wellington City Council’s support, it’s bigger and brighter than ever with a new venue and new vibe as part of Meridian Energy Summer City. Previous fairs at Newtown have attracted 5,000 visitors. This year in Civic Square, Out Wellington Inc. is expecting to attract double the usual visitors and grow over the next five years into one of the best events in Wellington’s calendar.
Out in the Square will feature professional entertainment of the widest variety ranging from drag queens and singers to reggaeton musicians. There will be loads of contests with a stack of stunning prizes including the much-loved Iko Iko Handbag Hurl, and the controversially titled It’s In The Fag – a gay take on the iconic Kiwi TV show, with Steven Oates as your host. There will also be a dedicated supervised children’s area with a bouncy castle. Top that off with fine food, sumptuous wine and DJ Jesta pumping out gay anthems, and Out in the Square promises to be a glorious day in the capital. The festivities start at 10am with an official opening hosted by Good Morning’s Steve Gray, before the loud and proud witty Maori power femme Parekotuku Moore and iconic Lady Trenyce take to the stage as MCs for the day. Confirmed performers include the reigning Miss Drag Wellington Ellie Kat; vocal powerhouse Sheba Williams; Rob Arnold – "Gay Boy" in the chart-topping group Boyband; Sue Dunlop; takataapui kapa haka group Tiwhananwhana; Hinemoana Baker and many more.
Also making a special appearance is NZ Idol winner Rosita Vai, who will be made-over into a high-camp disco diva by Wellington drag troupe The Glamazons. The event can only be fabulous if the weather stays fine, so fingers crossed, and if it looks bleak in the morning, check the event’s official website (linked below) for a cancellation announcement. If you don’t see one, it’s all on! And don’t forget the official Out in the Square after-party: at 9pm, Subnine on Edward Street will host Idolised, hosted by Steven Oates and with performances by Rosita Vai and The Glamazons in their brand new AV spectacular! Tickets can be purchased at Out in the Square or at Cosmic Corner for $10 or on the door for $15.
22nd April 2008
ANZAC Day: Wartime lesbians remembered
by GayNZ.com News Staff
New Zealand’s lesbians in the forces and lesbian victims of war will be remembered this ANZAC Day at Auckland’s Charlotte Museum. Dr Miriam Saphira will present an afternoon of lesbian stories from wartime, and share her childhood memories of the war and its effects.
The world-first lesbian museum will open at 2:30pm on ANZAC Day – this Friday 25 April – for the event, where afternoon tea will be served. The museum also plans to launch its Bronwen Dean Oral Herstory listening post project next month, continuing its commitment to collecting, preserving and sharing stories of local lesbian culture.
May 06, 2008
Marriages up, divorces down in 2007
Kiwis are waiting longer to get married with February 24th the most popular day to get hitched – civil unions remained steady with divorces on the decline.
I do becomes I don’t think so for Kiwis
Newly marrieds outnumber newly divorced couples 2 to 1. Love and marriage is still going strong in New Zealand, with the number of marriages and civil unions remaining steady and the divorce rate declining, Statistics New Zealand says. In total, 21,500 couples said "I do" last year, an increase on the 20,800 average for the last decade, statistician Geoff Bascand said. The most popular day to walk down the aisle was Saturday, and the most popular date was February 24 – with 610 marriages celebrated. Summer, as always was the most popular season, with 43 per cent of weddings being held in the first three months of the year. And despite winter months traditionally not being popular for weddings, last July saw an increase of couples marrying, with 290 attracted to the lucky 07/07/07 date. About 70 die-hard romantic couples wed on Valentine’s Day, which last year fell on a Wednesday.
Today’s marrying couples are waiting a lot longer than their parents, with last year’s median age at 29.9 and 28.1 years for men and women respectively. In 1971 men and women wed on average at the tender ages of 23 and 20.8 years respectively. Last year also saw 316 couples celebrate a civil union, made up of 253 same sex unions – 103 male and 150 female – and 63 opposite sex unions. There were 77 civil unions registered overseas, bringing the total to 393 registrations. There have been 1249 civil unions since laws legalising them came into force in April 2005, made up of 1016 same sex unions, 231 opposite sex unions and two transfers from marriage.
The total number of divorces for last year numbered 9600, slightly down on the average annual rate of 10,000 for the last decade. Divorces hit an all-time high of 12,400 in 1982 after marriages were allowed to dissolve on the grounds of irreconcilable differences. Mr Bascand noted that about one third of New Zealanders who married in 1982 had divorced before their silver wedding anniversary – 25 years.
18th May 2008
New Zealand Daily News: New generations must fight HIV, says PM
by GayNZ.com News Staff
Leading politicians have this evening urged a new generation of people affected by the ongoing HIV epidemic to rally against the disease’s spread and to always remember the hundreds of people, mostly gay men, who have died due to HIV in New Zealand. Their messages were read to AIDS Candlelight Memorial services which kicked off at 7pm throughout the country. This year’s event marks 25 years of the services with the theme "never give up, never forget." Latest available figures, to the end of 2007, show that 948 people are known to have died in New Zealand due to HIV and an estimated 1,230 are currently being treated to try to stop the disease from ravaging their immune systems. The NZ AIDS Foundation says many hundreds more are likely to be infected but are unaware they are carrying the virus, which causes AIDS.
In recent times an average of 75 gay men have been newly diagnosed with HIV every year, one of the highest figures since HIV emerged, but a little less than the peak of 90 recorded in 2005. Most of those gay men are believed to have contracted the disease in New Zealand, in contrast to the dominance of overseas-contracted infections predominant amongst heterosexuals, many of whom are recent immigrants. "The Candlelight Memorial is an opportunity to stop and remember not only the lives of those the AIDS epidemic has claimed, but also those it has left in its wake," Governor General Anand Satyanand said. "It is an opportunity to educate everyone about AIDS and to reaffirm our commitment to fighting the stigma and discrimination that many living with AIDS continue to endure."
Fulsome praise of the AIDS Foundation’s work came from the Prime Minister. "The New Zealand AIDS Foundation’s work in education and advocacy is so important – every day it is helping those who live with the disease, Helen Clark said, whilst also acknowledging "the community-based groups, and the people living with HIV/AIDS and their families and friends, who play a pivotal role in promoting measures to combat HIV/AIDS." She added that is is "still important that the next generation of New Zealanders is informed and able to continue working towards meeting the challenges this disease may bring in the future." National Party and Opposition Leader John Key acknowledged progress in prevention, detection and treatment HIV, but warned against letting down communities’ guard against HIV. "Much has been achieved in preventing, diagnosing and treating HIV/AIDS," he said, "but we must not let success become an excuse for complacency." Key saluted the work of the AIDS Foundation and underscored the AIDS Memorial service’s role in prompting remembrance of "those we have lost to AIDS, while also highlighting the hard work that still lies ahead" in fighting the spread of HIV. He described the work of the NZAF and its supporters as "amazing" and "truly inspiring."
19th May 2008
True Stories, Josh tells his story at Chch’s Candlelight
by Josh Chapman
22-year-old Wellingtonian Josh Chapman was invited to speak at Christchurch’s AIDS Candlelight Memorial last night. He took the opportunity to honour his late father, and remind us why he puts himself out there as a ‘Poster Boy’. Here’s the full transcript of his speech.
Good evening ladies and gentlemen.
My name is Josh Chapman. Most of you may know me as the ‘Boy Next Door’ of the Safe Sex Poster Boy campaign. I have been asked to give a speech for the HIV Candlelight Memorial here in Christchurch tonight, because of what I have been through in my life, because I and also the people that I work with feel that I have something powerful and moving to contribute, and also to remember those that we have lost to HIV/AIDS. What I thought that I would talk about tonight is personal. I will be letting you all know why I am here. The reason I want to talk about this is because I hope that my message – my story, can at least be passed on to people and taken on board. So that our community will understand why we push our message of keeping ourselves and each other safe.
Part One – My Dad
My Father was Peter Bryce Holtom; Born January 21st 1959 in Auckland. Quite a few of the older gay community knew my dad while he was alive. A number knew him prior to being diagnosed positive and many after. I’d like to thank all of them for their support in what I am doing in his memory. Now we always refer to my dad as being a gay man, although he was married, and had fathered myself and my two brothers. For a closeted gay man, this was common in the late ’80s early ’90s. Regardless of all that, my family, his friends and I choose to remember him as our father, husband, brother, son and dear friend. He had his misgivings but his love for us all is how we choose to think about him now. He grew up in a time where homosexuality, whether talked about or in action was taboo, and it was illegal. There was a stereotypical image of gay men that was portrayed in many ways; flamboyant, effeminate, sex-driven, and in a lot of cases, was misconstrued as living a ‘perverted’ way of life. Because of this, my dad was never able to identify himself as gay and the mere suggestion – as was often raised by mum – was met with hostility and in many cases, domestic violent rages.
The other thing that was prevalent in the ’70s, ’80s and early ’90s was the lack of understanding; not only from society but also from the medical professions and health organisations. Education around safe sex was minimal, and what was known was that what diseases you could catch were treatable. Vague rumours in bathhouses, saunas and social gatherings in the ’80s spoke of a ‘Gay Cancer’, and it was not fully understood how or why it was spread. This all will have played a part in how my dad’s fate was sealed; to be a gay man in hiding – being out of the loop of knowledge of how one would stay protected. From the records that were kept, we believe my dad contracted the virus about 1989. My youngest brother was conceived later that year, and either by pure luck, some marvel of the human body protecting mother and baby, or because the virus had not progressed as far through his system; my mum and youngest brother did not contract the virus. The last few years of dad’s life were when we spent more happy times with him. He came back to live with us up in the far north shortly after being diagnosed, and then out to Cable Bay, when us kids got a little too much for him, he only ever could handle us one at a time. And then he moved back to Auckland when doctors up there weren’t able to help him. He lived in several places in Auckland with his partner Gavin. Some people who knew him would remember they had a tornado bowl through their house in August 1992, followed by a house-fire in 1993. And through all this he was quite colourfully vocal about ‘anyone up there’ not giving him any helping hands when it came to tragedy. He’d been dealt some pretty hard cards in his life and he just kept trucking through it until the end.
When my father died on October 25th 1994 of HIV/AIDS, I was 8 years old, my younger brothers Ben and Sam were 7 and 4 respectively. My Mum and Dad had been separated for almost two years at this time. What caused their separation back then I feel I can pinpoint down to my father’s lack of ability to accept an identity, as he never admitted to his family and friends what was truly going on inside his head – or what was going on inside his heart. With Dad passing away, Mum, my brothers and I were subjected to numerous tests to confirm our HIV negative status, as well as going through several sessions of lengthy counselling. We were suddenly absorbing a greater knowledge of what HIV was, how it can be prevented and that there were treatments coming available. Sadly this was all too late to have extended my dad’s life. This is where I first remember thinking and hearing ‘Prevention is your best protection’.
Part Two – Me
Now I was only just realising my own sexual identity around 8 – 10 years old, but I had a lot of information to process. I still had no idea what a ‘sexual identity’ was, my mum had clues about me but could see I was trying to make sense of it, so without pushing it she let me discover it for myself. Over the following few years I was exposed to variations of homosexuality, and like my dad I found nothing in what I encountered as anything remotely similar to something I could identify with. What I found I did not like – in fact I detested it; confronted with this identity I fell into a downward spiral of depression. With my dad’s passing, I had been robbed of someone important in my life, especially when I saw other people taking their parents for granted. My dad could have helped me understand who I was, given me some insight in to what my future would be like. But I was destined to face this myself, face things on my own and I know that I have grown stronger from that.
It wasn’t until I was living back with my mum and my brothers from 2000 that I began to start realising that I don’t have to follow the same paths as the people I’d encountered – I don’t even have to follow the same path that my dad went down. I can love myself and I can be true to myself and the people who actually matter in this world to me weren’t bothered or offended by this; in fact they supported me in anything that I did so long as I was happy. I came out to my mum when I was 16 in October 2002, I’d come out to a few friends before that and knew I had some support there should things go wrong. This was just paranoia of a belief that I wasn’t going to be accepted for who I was, just like I knew dad must have felt. In the end which I already knew deep down, my fears were unfounded; I found in my mother a wealth of amazing support and knowledge, and from this our relationship went from more than mother and son, to best friends. With being felt accepted at home by my family, I then felt able to look forward to my future. I moved to Wellington at age 18 in 2004, and I met my ex, Phillip, through friends. From early 2005 we were officially dating. We even went through an ‘abstinence’ period where we didn’t sleep together for a month, just so we knew we weren’t after each other just because of sex. I think this built up a false sense of security for us two, because when we did start sleeping together condoms were only used the first couple of times. I don’t even remember why we stopped using them and this happens a lot in young relationships. We had the best of intentions, but in the end that could have cost us our quality of life.
I don’t regret what Phillip and I had, An English Poet, Lord Alfred Tennyson said; "’Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all" I have learned from our actions, and I can pass on this message to others, in the hope that they will also be able to hear my message, and protect themselves also. The thing I know now is I did have power of control back then to prevent something like that from ever occurring. If we had been using condoms, then there would be almost no risk to either of our health.
Part Three – Now
I now feel that with unsafe sex you literally put your life in the hands of the other person. If they make a mistake, however slight – this can have life-long consequences. What I am saying is not in anyway meant to undermine trust in relationships. I understand that there are couples out in our community where negotiated safety is their own choice and I respect that. That is their decision. What I want to do is help educate those couples who do not have what they do. I decided to get involved in our community with Gay Men’s Health and with the NZAF because of all that has happened in my life. I’ve been raised by my Mum and Dad to believe that everything happens for a reason. I believe that by looking at what has happened in the past, we learn from to protect ourselves. And by protecting ourselves we also protect those whom we love from experiencing that same loss. What I never want for my dad is for him to be another statistic, just another person who died from HIV/AIDS.
If I can do everything I can to push HIV awareness in his memory – especially when so many cases are where transmission was preventable – then he is still with me, living on through me. HIV Awareness means we are mindful that the virus still exists in our community. You all know that just because HIV positive people are not dying in our faces like they were in the 80’s and 90’s does not mean that the virus is any less terminal than it was 20 or 30 years ago. It’s a hard struggle, I know – I’ve seen it. What we need to do is remember those who we have lost to HIV, cherish the memories that we have of them, do good work in their name, volunteer our services to help those that need it. This is all we have left of them.
Doing this as I said, their lives will not be lost in vain. They will be proud of us, I know in my heart my dad would be of me.
21 August 2008
It’s the end of a gay old time
My theory: John Key has become our preferred leader in the polls because he represents, for the hopeful, the end of the golden era of women and gays. Fashions change. As one example, the former transgender member of Parliament, Labour’s Georgina Beyer, is complaining that she’s getting none of the perks of politics, the cosy seats on boards and committees that are normally loyalty’s reward. I suspect that may be a portent of a slow-building conservative backlash from mainstream New Zealand. Ms Beyer may have ability, but even the party that so championed gay rights won’t champion them that far; not at this point. Things that can’t be said aloud, in a climate of grand- standing righteousness, can always be expressed through the ballot box.
There’s a widespread belief – no one would lay claim to publicly – that this Government has deliberately formed a web of dominant women, suspected of also being gay, and gay men to run things. It has certainly made a point of promoting women to key positions, and the voice of authority has become that of a headmistress, or an irritating female vicar. Girls can do anything, but they can sure be a pain in the neck about it. Against that, Mr Key’s allure must be that he wears trousers with a fly front. He also doesn’t represent surprises; just pragmatism and reassuring old prejudices. And the fact that he’s a man has to be a novelty. I’ve been rethinking Helen Clark as she slides in the popularity polls. As one man said of her, in the context of her outdoors adventure and tragedy last week, she really is a remarkable woman.
The radio interviewer that morning didn’t ask him to expand on what he meant, but I rather wish he had. Maybe he meant that, as in Rudyard Kipling’s once-admired poem about manhood, If, she keeps her head while all about her are losing theirs. I expect she does. I admire the balance in Miss Clark’s life; that she takes winter holiday breaks in the snow, setting herself physical challenges, and loves the outdoors. If you’re a New Zealander you really ought to, though I don’t. I’m waiting for us to develop decent shopping, the kind of strenuous exercise I prefer. To be fair, while I applaud her sanity in regularly getting away from it all, Miss Clark recently took a swing at Mr Key for not working on weekends. Hers was a weekend adventure. I guess she just spoke too soon.
What with the backlash against women, who now seem to run everything but money in this country, what happened at the Olympics last weekend could only be described as tactless. Winning gold medals when men aren’t can’t fail to annoy. What a contrast we are with Australia, where you can be mad, outspoken, and survive. The backlash to this week’s comments by the mayor of Mt Isa drew flak, sure, but far more people there would relish his outrageous nerve. John Molony, no oil painting himself, says he’d like "beauty disadvantaged" women to flock to the mining town, where there are five desperate men for every woman. They stand a chance of getting some action there, he believes. "Quite often, you’ll see walking down the street a lass who isn’t so attractive with a wide smile. Whether it is the recollection of something previous, or anticipation for the next evening, there is a degree of happiness," he observed. Local women countered with the sharp observation that in Mt Isa "the odds are good, but the goods are odd". On a Mt Isa online dating site, I found two local desperadoes, photographs not necessarily attached, who exemplify the problem.
John, 21, says he’s: "Young, fit and horny". "I enjoy going out and having a good time with my mates. I’m a bit of a daredevil, so I’m up for anything." Teepee, 36, describes himself as: "Here for a good time, not a long time." He says he’s easygoing and eager to please. There’s a whole novel right there, as any woman who lifts her head from chundering in pub porcelain can attest. If, as one Aussie commentator put it, you have "a face like a chewed Mintie" it could be worth the price of a plane ticket. But let’s face it, you can find drongos anywhere.
September 23, 2008
New Zealand Parliament recognises contributions of LGBT community
by Rachel Charman
The New Zealand Parliament has dedicated one of its select committee rooms, renamed "The Rainbow Room" to the LGBT community’s contributions to society. All members of all parties supported the designation of Select Committee Room 11 of Parliament House as the Rainbow Room.
The Speaker, Hon Margaret Wilson, said: "It is appropriate that it is with select committee rooms that we recognise all members of our society and the paths they have taken to full citizenship with equal rights." She added that all the rooms "tell the story of honest and full representation in the New Zealand Parliament."
Several rooms in Parliament House have been designated to minority and underrepresented groups in the past. The Maori Affairs Committee Room, known as Maui Tikitiki-a-Taranga, was dedicated in 1995. The Suffrage Room was dedicated in 2005, recognising the achievement of women in obtaining the vote in the late nineteenth century. The Pacific Room was dedicated in 2002, to mark the contribution of Pacific peoples to New Zealand government and society, whilst the dedication of the Asia Room earlier this year marked similar achievements from the Asian community.