Te ao pāpāho

We welcome your suggestions of websites, books, films and any other media of interest to lesbians and queer women.

We appreciate the original cartoons provided by Helen Courtney. This one, Flight of fancy, seems to fit particularly well with Media.

A writer’s memoir
New lesbian fiction
Elizabeth Kerekere speaks on Māori LGBTQ term takatāpui
Celebrating Kate Millett

These two hands, a writer’s memoir

Renée is well-known as a multi-genre writer: plays, novels, online fiction …

Her memoir, These two hands, was published last month, has had a launch in Dunedin, and has two North Island launch events this month: Sunday 12 in Wellington (part of Playmarket’s ‘Accolade’ event), and Tuesday 21 in Auckland (Women’s Bookshop).

Read an excerpt in the Spinoff; buy the book from Unity Books in Wellington or the Women’s Bookshop in Auckland.

New lesbian fiction

Alice Casey has published two novels this year, and has started work on number three.

“When I was younger, I’d get to about 50,000 words and then not finish,” she says. More writing experience, more life experience, and better technology (“software now makes managing a large file much easier”) has made the difference.

Mangoes for Mei Fong came out of her time teaching English in Taiwan. In a conversational English class, students explained the custom of ‘ghost marriage’: a posthumous marriage of an unmarried woman, so she won’t be single forever. “What would that mean for the lesbians I socialise with?”, Alice thought. And, “that would make a good novel!”.

The landscape of the lesbian community was “completely different in Taiwan. In New Zealand, in 2003, the expectation was dressing androgynously. In Taiwan, dressing femme or girly was celebrated.”. Alice’s Mandarin language was “good enough for dog walking and lesbian bar conversations”, and she lived there for six years, but she’s asked a Taiwanese friend to read and critique Mangoes to give her confidence she’s understood and portrayed the community fairly. And the friend has given this Taiwanese lesbian ghost story the thumbs up.

Wanderlust for Beginners is set in small town New Zealand. The central character is Eerin Kate, born to a lesbian couple, who is now 14 and entering puberty. She has Down Syndrome, and has started seeing ghosts. And there’s a murder mystery.

Alice describes this as a ‘joyously far-fetched fantasy novel’: like Mangoes, there is humour, but also seriousness and social commentary on individuals and social groups. “It’s surprising what I’ve had a chance to process from writing these novels,” Alice says. “It’s not something I think about consciously as I’m writing, and that’s probably a good thing – it would be inhibiting – but afterwards I can see, for example, that Wanderlust has all the children I didn’t have myself.”

The sequel to Wanderlust is Alice’s work in progress. But she also has a full-time job, part-time work, a partner, several animals, so there’s still quite a lot to do.

Both novels are published on Smashwords, available in a number of formats: Mangoes , Wanderlust. Wanderlust is also available in physical form from the Women’s Bookshop.

More on Alice on her website and her Smashwords interview.

Elizabeth Kerekere speaks on Māori LGBTQ term takatāpui

“Elizabeth Kerekere, who identifies as lesbian, has spent five years writing her PhD and discovering new evidence takatāpui existed in pre-colonial society.”

This brief Herald article outlines Kerekere’s work, includes an animated story of Hinemoa and Tūtānekai narrated by her, and profiles three takatāpui youth.

Celebrating Kate Millett

Kate Millett was born in the US in September 1934 and died early September 2017, shortly before her 83rd birthday.

By Linda Wolf – Contact us/Photo submission, CC BY-SA 3.0,

She was hugely influential to feminists and lesbians, since at least the publication of Sexual Politics, based on her PhD thesis, in 1970. It is available from Lilac in Wellington and should also be available in public libraries.

Millett published another 10 works, mostly non-fiction, and was also an artist (sculptor and artist). She established what was the Women’s Art Colony in New York State, now the Millett Center for the Arts. She was active in civil/human rights activism, and the peace movement. She experienced severe mental health issues, and was an anti-psychiatry activist.

In 2012, with Armistead Maupin, she was awarded a Lambda Pioneer Award for Literature. She was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2013.

Watch and listen to Millett at 1974 Gay Pride March in NYC – the importance of coming out (3’30”); listen to her interviewed on radio, 1975, on Flying (24 minutes).

Read what you can find that Millett has published, and read about her, in Wikipedia and in obituaries: Robin Morgan and Julie Bindel, radical lesbian feminist, in the Guardian. Here is Val McDermid’s letter on the importance of Kate Millett. The New Yorker’s interview with her at the beginning of September – the last one.

And more obituaries: The New RepublicThe Washington PostNew York Times, and the Advocate.

Blogs and pages you’ll like

Who are you reading?  Here’s our blog roll; send us links for other lesbian blogs.

Blogs and sites from Aotearoa

The Charlotte Museum “The Charlotte Museum Trust is part of a network of archives preserving lesbian culture for the benefit and understanding of future generations in New Zealand. This is where the Charlotte Museum blogs about her exhibitions, events, archives and lesbian history.” Not updated since January 2016
We don’t have to be the building, a blog about Sian Torrington’s project of the same name, about “lesbian, bi-sexual, queer female bodied, trans* and female identified activists both 30 years ago during Homosexual Law Reform, and now” who are “telling our personal stories as a form of activism”. Sian drew and interviewed lesbian, queer and trans* women for an exhibition in Wellington in 2016 and Auckland in 2017.
Renée’s Wednesday Busk
He Hōaka Kim Mcbreen’s queer Māori political blog.
Out There Pat Rosier’s perceptive comments on her reading and the writing process, the last posts very poignant after her death in 2014.
The Hand Mirror Lesbian, queer and other feminist writing by a variety of bloggers.
Egg Venturous Claire Gummer’s whimsical writing about her backyard chooks and beyond.
Butch on Butch A Facebook page of photographs and comments.
I’m local Info and resources for queer & gender diverse youth around Aotearoa.

Blogs from elsewhere

Carolyn Gage A playwright, also a writer of lengthy and thoughtful blog posts.
diva grp2Diverse Voices and Action for Equality (DIVA) Fiji An active group of young lesbians linking their human rights with gender, social, ecological and constitutional justice; also on Twitter (@diva4equality).
Feminine Moments – Queer Feminist Art Worldwide An art blog that “presents fine art made by lesbian, bisexual and queer women artists worldwide”.
Isle of Lesbos “A place of art, culture, and learning dedicated to lesbian and bisexual women.”
The Lesbrary “The humble quest to read everything lesbian: a lesbian book blog”. Maintains its own “(Lesbian) Book Blog” roll (16 at last count).
Listening 2 Lesbians A page recording women’s experiences of being abused or silenced as lesbians and of being subjected to misogyny and lesbophobia within and outside the community;news stories on lesbian rights, violence and discrimination against the lesbian community.
Lizzy the Lezzy Lizzy started as an animated stand up comedian. The website hasn’t been updated since 2016, but she also has a Facebook presence.
Robin Morgan is an American poet, author, political theorist and activist, journalist, lecturer and radical feminist.
Sister Outrider is the award winning blog of Claire Heuchan, a Black radical feminist from Scotland, with a website, Facebook and Twitter online presence.
The Total Femme “Your friendly neighborhood femme mom bookworm” has a Meditation for Queer Femmes posted Mondays, links to other blog posts or articles in “Pingy-Dingy Wednesday”, Fridays highlight queer femmes from all walks of life.
Women You Should Know “a digital media property and community all about dynamic women …” with a website and Facebook presence.

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News, pix and profiles about lesbians and queer women in Aotearoa/New Zealand

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