April / Paenga-whāwhā 2015

What was happening in April? – we’ve collected all the items here.

Dyke Diary

Ngā pitopito kōrero/News

Charlotte museum’s new director
Wanted – vulva poppies for Anzac Day
Rainbow Panel for Auckland City?
Sole lesbian in Comedy Festival
Free wardrobe for young Aucklanders
Wellington queer women honoured
Butch on butch podcasts online
Feminists on women’s inequality
Older lesbians wanted for research …
… And story collection
News from all over

Charlotte’s new director

New Charlotte Museum direNadia and peachesctor Nadia Gush, pictured below with her Sharpei cross Peaches, is enjoying her first job in a museum. “I’ve worked mostly in universities, but there’s a lot of cross-over – it’s nice to work in a different way with the same themes and interests.”

Her one-year, 15-hours-a-week role is to plan events and exhibitions, so that they will be more regular than they have been. The vulva poppies exhibition for Anzac Day was her idea, “and it did reflect Miriam’s previous exhibition quite nicely”. Nadia is still recruiting knitters for that and arranging a speaker for the opening (“although opening seems a bad choice of words when you’re talking about vulvas!”).

The museum is also looking for lesbian photographers to contribute to an exhibition opening on May 24 with the Auckland Festival of Photography which runs from May 28 – June 20.

Nadia says she “would like to get more online focus, where we digitise parts of the collection and provide more of an online service. It would be more strategic and would bring the museum to a larger audience.” One difficulty is the lack of guaranteed funding “so the museum doesn’t have an enduring online space. We already have a Facebook page and I’ve revived a blog.” Nadia is exploring what the museum needs to do that – “we’d look for the things we have that no one else has digitised”. She’s checking with LAGANZ and other gay archives to see what is digitally available.

Nadia lives in Hamilton and commutes from to Auckland on Wednesdays and Sundays, the days the museum is open. “We’d like to build the volunteer base to enable us to be open more days.” She has always had short-term contract jobs in the history programme at the University of Waikato, but this year she is doing her own research into the history of female companions and other New Zealand women’s history.

Nadia is Pākehā and identifies as a feminist who happens to be lesbian; she first knew in her late teens but didn’t come out to her family straight away. She’s also interested in attracting younger women to the museum. She’s heartened that feminism is attracting more students to women’s and gender studies at Waikato University and that they are forming their own feminist student groups.

Jenny R

Vulva poppies wanted for Anzac Day

Charlotte poppy vulvaGuerrilla knitting meets Georgia O’Keefe at the Charlotte Museum’s Anzac Day installation on April 25, which symbolically acknowledges the contribution of women to World War One.

The museum welcomes contributions by home knitters of knitted vulva, vulva-poppies, and standard poppies in traditional ANZAC poppy-red, browns or pinks, preferably no bigger than 10-15cm across. They will be installed on the Charlotte Gallery walls in New Lynn for the opening. “We want hundreds of the little suckers,” say the museum’s volunteers; they need to arrive by April 20.

Georgia O’Keeffe popularised but didn’t create the similarity between vulva and flowers. There has always been an association between flowers and Anzac Day, too, in part because of the 1916 poem about Flanders Fields where the poppies grow. But it took the Charlotte Museum to complete the triangle and associate vulva and Anzac Day. Museum volunteers held a vulva poppy knit-in on March 22.

For a knitting pattern for a small knitted vulva, see the museum’s Facebook page. Post it into the museum at PO Box 47398, Ponsonby, Auckland 1144.

Auckland Council to debate a Rainbow Panel

Auckland Council will discuss a proposal for an advisory Rainbow Panel at its April 30 meeting. If the council agrees, LGBTT representatives will be able to contribute to council policy alongside the existing independent Māori statutory board, and advisory panels for business, people with disabilities, Pacific peoples, heritage, rural people, youth, and other ethnic communities.

Rainbow CouncilMayor Len Brown expressed support for a Rainbow Panel at the last two Big Gay Out events, but it is by no means certain that the rest of the council will agree. The Community Development and Safety Committee passed the proposal by seven votes to two in March. Councillors George Wood and Calum Penrose opposed the move, saying that “the community” is calling for less spending on democracy services, the arm of council that runs the panels. LNA understands that conservative councillors are keen to reduce spending on advisory panels, rather than increase it.

The panels provide strategic advice to the council on their community’s issues, and on how the council can engage effectively with that community. If agreed, the panel would replace the Rainbow Door Reference Group, which was established in 2010 and for a time had to organise under the radar due to the hostility of a former council.

Casey said that the issue of LGBTT representation had come up again and again during her 11 years as a councillor. “This isn’t something that’s just popped up. This Rainbow Panel’s time has come.” At the committee, Nadia Gush of the Charlotte Museum, Linda Heavey of the Auckland Pride Festival, whakawahine Lexie Matheson, and representatives of the OUTLine national phone service, the Gay Auckland Business Association, Body Positive, and the Rainbow Tick all supported the panel.

In the forums run by Rainbow Door that led to the committee decision, most LGBTT people supported a panel, but some saw it as assimilating LGBTT communities into the council structure, and reducing our ability to advocate for LGBTT people to council.

The panel would have 12 members and a chair. It would cost $35,000 to establish and up to $80,000 a year to run, with most of the budget going to a Democracy Advisor who would organise meetings. The proposal for the council meeting will detail the selection process, which is likely to be similar to other panels. People would be invited to apply through a recruitment agency, and a small group made up of community members and council officers would select panel members.

West Auckland lesbian community organiser, council staffer and former Rainbow Door co-ordinator, Cissy Rock, told the committee that it was important for the LGBTT community and the council to reach beyond the central city to marginalised and isolated LGBTT people in the rest of the Auckland region.

Jenny Rankine

Little lesbian content in Comedy Festival

The 2015 International Comedy Festival will be in Wellington and Auckland April 24 to May 17, with an ensemble ‘Comedy Convoy’ also touring 19 centres.

urzila carlsonOnly one out lesbian is on the programme: Urzila Carlson (left) has solo shows, Man Up, in both main centres: in Wellington nightly from Tuesday May 5 to Saturday May 9, and two shows in Auckland (Friday 15 and Saturday 16). She will be possibly the only woman in the Auckland gala opening (Friday April 24) and in the Wellington opening First Laughs (Monday April 27). In Wellington she is also part of The Good Guys team (Sunday May 3) and MCing two of the Late Laughs shows (Friday May 8 and Saturday 9).

The programme does offer rainbow flags as well as country flags for performers – sadly, the rainbows only identify gay male performances.

Free youth community wardrobe

Rainbow Youth’s new Community Wardrobe for gender diverse and queer young people is availalbe at the back of their Karangahape Road drop-in centre in Auckland. Clothing donations from the community are sorted and available for young queer and trans* people to try on in a safe and affirming place, and take home for free.

Drop donations at 281 Karangahape Rd, Newton between 11am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Honoured Wellington queer women

tabby_besleyWellington’s Rainbow Pride Community Honours are now available online as audio podcasts. Part one includes posthumous awards for Porleen Simmons and Pat Rosier; and awards for Ladyfruit; Kassie Hartendorp and Connor MeikleJohn; Tabby Besley (national co-ordinator of Inside Out, left) and Tania (Tarn) Billingsley, and others.

Part two includes Louisa Wall MP, Leilani Visesio, Herbee Bartley and Fetu-ole-moana Teuila Tamapeau, among others.

Part three includes awards for Sue Lytollis; Alison Laurie and Gareth Watkins of LAGANZ; Jean Malcolm, leader of The Glamaphones; Alofa Aiono, Elizabeth Kerekere, Karen and Peri Te Wao, Chanel Hati and Kevin Haunui of Tiwhanawhana; and Virginia Parker-Bowles, among others. Nominees were chosen by community organisations.

Butch on butch

Podcasts of several lesbians featured in Jac Lynch’s photographic project Butch on Butch, recently exhibited in Wellington, are now featured on Pridenz.com, and more podcasts from the 21 women will be posted over the next two months.

Creek, George, Sara, Lynley, Stevie, Tasha and Zoe are part of what Jac describes as “a tribute to the people among us whose masculinity defies social and gender norms. They may or may not identify as butch, but on a daily basis they are confronted by, enjoy or ignore others’ view of them as such.”

Copies of the exhibition booklet are still available for $25 including postage – email Jac.

Feminists on inequality

Policy QuarterlyThe current issue of Policy Quarterly on inequalities features five feminist articles, including lesbian economist Prue Hyman’s suggestions for interventions needed to improve women’s position in the labour market.

Others discuss women’s work in the public service, better policy for sole parents living in poverty, responding better to women dealing with violence from their partners, and 30 years of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs. The rest of the issue focuses on inequalities in income, wages and wealth. See the website.

Older lesbians wanted for research project …

David Betts, a 23-year-old straight social work PhD student from the University of Canterbury, would like to interview older lesbian and GBTQ+ people about their experiences with social relationships and mental health. David wants to hear from those over 60 with some experience either directly or indirectly with mental health and wellbeing, such as anxiety, stress, depression or substance abuse. Information provided by participants will be kept confidential and the study has been approved by the University of Canterbury’s Human Ethics Committee.

David says he uses “feminism as a strong base for my research, especially intersectional feminism that focuses on the structural nature of oppression resulting from patriarchal values combined with homophobic and heternormative attitudes, as well as a strong critique of ageism”.

If you are interested in taking part, or know of someone who might be, email David or phone 027 430 7569.

… And elder stories wanted

A Melbourne queer publisher is looking for New Zealand stories from older lesbians and queer women for an anthology.

Rag&boneManPressThe deadline for stories is the end of April, with a limit of 2,000 words. The non-profit publisher Rag and Bone Man Press aims to produce books for social change, and is run by editor and writer Elizabeth Whiley, who dances with Thursgay, and David Hardy, who writes about queer and indigenous identity.

Contributions could include essays, memoirs, short stories, interviews, poems or a piece written around photographs. They could be about first love, struggle and defiance, resistance and pride, meeting that special someone, of passing on knowledge, fighting invisibility and of the comfort of friends and family. There is no payment, but accepted writers get invited to the launch.

Contact David by email or see the website.

News From All Over

What were we reading and viewing around the web in the last month? (Reminder: exercise caution when reading comments on any stories.)

Thumbs upKorea: a secondary school student, responding to a survey about homosexuality, apparently a panicked response to a rumour there might be a lesbian couple in the school, writes a powerful statement that any adult should be proud to have said.

Star Wars is getting an explicitly out lesbian character.

In March, Slovenia, a small eastern European country (population 2 million), became the first in that region to pass legislation enabling same-sex marriage and adoption. Visit Wikipedia for more information about the recognition of same-sex unions.

Japan, host of the 2020 Olympic Games, has formed a multiparty group (38 politicians from multiple parties) to look at LGBT rights. This follows increased awareness of anti-LGBT discrimination associated with Russian law and the Winter Olympics at Sochi, and the subsequent update to the Olympic Charter.

The abuse of women online, especially when they voice opinions that are perceived as challenging (for example, challenging abuse of women), feminist, or pro-women, is prevalent and well-known. In Is the “L” in LGBTI silent?, lesbian feminist Liz Waterhouse writes about ‘aggressively misogynistic’ comments being made within our communities. While again the comments are mixed, it has prompted her to establish a new blog, listening2lesbians (tagline, ‘our voices matter’) to ‘allow women to submit their experiences of being abused or silenced as lesbians, of being subjected to misogyny and lesbophobia within and outside the community.’

Drawing from the Pages of Alison Bechdel, a special (effects) portrait of Alison Bechdel as a video compendium for the Dykes, Dads and Moms To Watch Out For exhibition in January/February.

Thumbs downThe UK Home Office argued Aderonke Apata, a Nigerian LGBT activist applying for asylum in Britain, at risk of lengthy imprisonment – or worse – if deported, is lying about being a lesbian. See stories from the Huffington Post and Independent; more positively, see the Asylum for Aderonke Facebook page. And the Mirror has an article that both makes a serious point AND mocks the Home Office mercilessly.

Ngā tāngata, People

What lesbians do – Steam train car steward
Kapiti Coast’s monthly potluck
Lesbians in Auckland Writers Festival
Women in World War One, Auckland and Wellington

What lesbians do – Steam train car steward

Kapiti Coast resident Jenny Holdt first caught the train bug when she travelled on steam trains around India some years ago. “I like being part of an era that crosses the centuries. And you get to see places you don’t see from a plane, car or a bike.”

Jenny HoldtShe volunteered as train crew for Steam Incorporated in Paekakariki last year, and trained for her certification as a car steward. “The safety of the passengers is paramount; you have to know all the regulations and how to pull the emergency cord. It’s quite exciting stopping a train!” Passenger enjoyment and comfort are a large part of the role.

“I have to know about the trains and carriages, like where they get the coal from (around Denniston) and how far we go on a load of coal – some of the questions are quite detailed.”

Jenny’s first trip was to Dannevirke last year, since then she’s been to Taihape “for the gumboot tossing”; Wanganui, where the passengers could go on a paddleboat up the river; and Ohakune, where she went “up the mountain on a perfect day when the snow looked like candy floss. I had to check that all the passengers got back on the bus on the way back.” She’s also worked on day trips to Eketahuna, Woodville and Feilding, and the Grand Circle Rail Cruise which went to Palmerston North, Woodville, Masterton, Wellington and back to Paekakariki. “Everywhere you go there are people following us with still and video cameras on tripods, and lots of waving. Some of the passengers say they feel like royalty.”

Jenny’s latest and longest trip was a five-day excursion to Napier for the Art Deco Weekend in February. “We left on Thursday 19 early and arrived in Napier after nine pm, a very long day, returning on the Monday. We were on the Ja1271 steam train built in 1956.” On the way they passed through Levin, Palmerston North, Dannevirke, Waipukurau and Hastings.

“We have to give way to freight and milk trains which means that travel usually takes longer, and that day there was a derailment in the Napier yard that stopped a freight train leaving. So we were stuck waiting for over an hour at Otane, but no one minded. The passengers got out, many dressed up in art deco cozzies, had glasses of wine and talked and laughed in the warm sunshine” (pictured).

Steam passengersIn Napier, “we had three huff’n’puff daytime excursions to Hastings, and went to Otane for a pie, pea and pud fundraising meal in the hall on Saturday. There was also a local market for us, lots of local goodies and bargains”. On Sunday, the train became a Family Foodie Special trip to Waipukurau, serving a three-course lunch with boutique wine and beer on the train on the way back. “At Waipukurau people were really dressed up, and it was fabulous around Napier over the weekend – everyone was dressed to the nines.”

Steam Incorporated has two working steam locomotives – the Ab608 Passchendaele built in 1915 (and restored over 20 years for $500,000) and the Ja1271, both built by NZ Railways. It also has two working diesel locomotives and many carriages between 60 and 100 years old. The older carriages are panelled in wood with balconies at the back.

Volunteers are “typical New Zealanders, mostly Pākehā”, says Jenny. “The majority, men and women, used to work for NZ Railways, and some of the women are partners or children of former railway workers.”

As crew, Jenny wears a red t-shirt, black pants and steel-cap trainers, and a fluoro vest when she’s on the track. “The loco crew look very smart – they have black shirts and silver ties.” Most of the volunteer train crew and buffet car volunteers are women, and both the souvenir shop staff. Jenny says there are no women among the loco crew, but the society would train any who were interested. But although Jenny has been in the working cab in charge of the whistle, she doesn’t hanker to drive a loco.

Jenny R

Coasters’ potluck

The highly successful Kapiti Coast monthly lesbian potluck dinners has given the area a reputation as a friendly lesbian community that is easy to settle into.

Started by Leonie Grimmet in 2000, they are held on the first Saturday of each month, from 6.30pm and attract between 16 on wet evenings to more than 70 women at some southern coast potlucks. “It depends on who the hosts know; sometimes people from Wellington will stay with them for that weekend,” says Leonie. A huge communal bag of plastic plates, cutlery wine glasses is passed from host to host to help out.

“We hold them from Otaki to Paekakariki,” says Leonie, “and people coming into the area have an instant network of people they can relate to. A lot of people are moving up from Wellington for the lifestyle and because we’re known for being such a friendly community.” The potlucks led to Leonie’s Kapiti Coast email list, which distributes potluck venues, requests and offers of accommodation and news of lesbian events to more than 500 women.

Women are asked to bring mains or desserts and their own drinks. “Somehow the ratio always works out between desserts and mains, and it’s yummy food,” says Leonie.

Recent resident Jenny Holdt, of Te Horo Beach, says: “The potluck’s a good place to meet other women – everyone was very friendly when we first went. We got around 30 to our first one, and there’s plenty of food for veggoes, which is nice.”

“For someone moving into the area it’s great,” she says. “One friend was moving to Otaki and met five women from Otaki Beach at a potluck before she moved in. It made her feel a lot better about coming from Auckland and not knowing anyone here.”

The youngest at potlucks are in their 20s and the oldest in their late eighties; mostly Pākehā and Māori, with lot of couples and singles, says Leonie.

Some hosts hold particular potlucks; the January one is held north of Manukau, just south of Levin, and attracts a group of Palmerston North lesbians, says Leonie. “In summer women with smaller homes take a punt on the weather and hope people can mingle outside.” She tries to get women with bigger houses for the winter dinners.

Paekakariki resident Prue Hyman says that she and partner Pat Rosier, who died in June “always hosted one a year, usually in June. The Lilac Lesbian Library brings a load of books to each potluck, which lots of women who don’t go to Wellington much have found very useful. It’s not a late night and everyone helps with the dishes.”

Jenny Holdt thinks the lower breath alcohol limit for drivers “has curtailed attendance a bit; if it’s in Paekakariki, that’s why we don’t go.”

Email Leonie on leonie.grimmett [at] xtra.co.nz to go on the Kapiti Coast email list.

Jenny R

Lesbians in Auckland Writers Festival

DuffyUK Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy is one of the featured authors in this year’s festival.

Obviously well-known as a poet (and the UK’s first woman, first lesbian and first Scottish Poet Laureate), two of her performances will be of her work The World’s Wife. A themed collection of poems, it takes characters, stories, histories and myths which focus on men, and tells stories from women’s points of view: sometimes women commenting on the male/male story. Mrs Darwin, for example, and Mrs Icarus each take only a few lines to sum up their husbands. Other works change history more substantially, so Queen Herod and the Kray Sisters tell their own story.

Duffy joins actors Fiona Samuel and Rachel House in performances on Friday May 15 and Saturday May 16 (see Dyke Diary for details). Duffy will also be “in conversation” for an hour, with John Campbell.

Auckland Libraries have a wide range of Duffy’s published work, as well as anthologies in which she is included. For other examples of her work, visit Scottish Poetry Library and Poetry Archive. The latter site includes Duffy reading from her poems.

Otaki-based feminist playwright, memoirist, poet, blogger and novelist Renée has two sessions: a workshop, “Your Life, Your Story”, Saturday May 16 ($45) and an hour in conversation with Stephanie Johnson, Sunday May 17, 3-4pm, see Dyke Diary).


Women in World War One

WWI posterThe Women’s Studies Association has organised two one-day events focussed on women’s activities and contributions in World War One.

The Wellington event, in late March, attracted around 40 women with interests in history, labour history and peace and justice. The day included presentations on personal/individual stories as well as groups of women, discussion and dramatic performance.

The Auckland event (Sunday April 12, see Dyke Diary) will follow a similar format.

Welllington participants found the event engaging and informative, with great networking opportunities. While few women subjects can be identified as unquestionably lesbian, the focus on strong, single, independent women, and the opportunities they found and took, will be of interest to lesbians.

The Women’s Studies Association is a feminist organisation formed to promote radical social change through the medium of women’s studies. It has a long, strong and visible herstory of lesbian involvement.


Te ao pāpāho, Media

Anthology of Australian lesbian writing
A first lesbian novel
PulseArt review
Reaching for the Moon review
Wellington Lesbian Radio podcasts
Chrissy Irvine’s website of women at work photos

Lesbians write on: A celebration of contemporary Australian lesbian writing

Lesbian stories

What a lovely book!

The loveliness starts with the title – that’s attractive in itself. What better, we might ask ourselves, to do with contemporary lesbians (Australian or others) than to celebrate them?

Then there’s the look of the book. I am of the ‘judging a book by its cover’ school, and this has a labrys and purple flowers. It’s a good size and comfortable to hold. Inside, the print is an easy (large-ish) size to read.

The Long Breast Press collective, as they explain in the introduction and on the back cover, solicited and elicited 40 works from 24 lesbians.

While contributions vary, they include fiction and non-fiction, and works that are not clearly either. It has the strong, credible and realistic voice of many lesbians you will know.

Some of the stories are historical, addressing what has got me to here from there, for example. Some are funny, some are sad – some desperately so. Just like aspects of any of our lives, I’d say.

There is lesbian love expressed through porridge. There’s a brief cricket poem. There is early love and coming out. There is current love/s and challenges of heterosexism and ageing.

What else might you want to know? One of the collective, Jean Taylor, is the founder of Performing Older Women’s (POW) Circus, which developed out of the Women’s Circus. Mostly lesbian, POW’s objectives include challenging ageism and ageist assumptions and advancing the status of women by embracing feminist perspectives and fostering lesbian visibility.

You can hear Ardy Tibby (another Long Breast Press collective member) and Jean talk about feminism and their roles in the feminist movement in Australia in a 2010 Joy Radio podcast (duration: 40:17, 18.4MB).

Publisher details on this and other Long Breast titles are at Long Breast Press.

Publishing this book was a project to maintain the ‘uniquely lesbian expression’ of identity, and it has succeeded magnificently.


A first lesbian novel

More than I could bearHeather Sylvawood’s first novel More than I could bear – A lesbian affair is set in the early 1970s in Canterbury and was released on Amazon Kindle at the end of March.

The story: Laura Holland is barely coping with her life bringing up two teenagers and her almost seven-year-old autistic daughter, Estella. Living on a small farm raising chooks, sheep and the family’s vegetables, Laura’s role is limited to homemaking by her daughter’s disability. Her husband Richard, however, is a busy school principal whose involvement in the farm is spasmodic. Life catapults from one crisis to another with each family member coping with or seeking solace from the pressures in different ways. Laura’s account of their struggles to maintain a ‘normal’ life is at times poignant and funny.

When the Hollands meet the Langleys, a family with a very different way of coping with their disabled daughter, life takes a dramatic turn. At first Laura and Anna find support and new possibilities in their growing love for each other. But all is not well in the Langley household, and as Laura is drawn in, further and further, the stage is set for a dramatic showdown.

The novel shows how social beliefs about caring for children with an intellectual disability impact much more strongly on women, and how the whole family is affected by the disability of the one. Contains sexual scenes.

PulseArt: A Space for a Story

At Garnet Station, February 17–28, 2015
Justina Groeber, Cath Head, Beth Hudson, Dorina Jotti, Fran Marno, Sue Marshall

PulseArtGarnet Station, a friendly laid-back space, is in itself a story. But it offers two sprucely white and airy adjoining rooms for PulseArt’s enthusiastic opening crowd. Blessedly, if heat or the art got too much we could step outside to laden peach trees, cherry tomatoes, bromeliads and mint, and chat in or contemplate a garden whose artful naturalness nicely complements the delicacy of the indoor art.

Where do our stories start? Coming up to a third year of the Gay Marriage Act it’s appropriate to begin with a light-hearted look at marriage. Fran’s Wally Dog Diaspora: conversations from the mantelpiece, are paintings of three pairs of decorative pottery canines. (Google says a lot about Wally dogs, or in Scots dugs.) Titled: Uppity Wives, Besotted Wives and Scary Wives (the last prompting thoughts of Alice B. Toklas, reputedly scary, marshalling the wives while Gertrude interrogates the artists) the images illustrate Fran’s stunning painterly skills and complex perceptiveness. These florid pampered pooches surely embody – or emit – the protections and pretensions of their owners, but does the one with the broken companion piece (and relationship?) wear the most rueful – screwed-up – expression? Hard to stop looking, guessing, laughing. But the Little Phyd image is so fresh she might leap out of her frame.

Beth Hudson’s stories are like visits to a mysterious though archetypal past beginning with a powerful dream-derived cycling hare chased by sinister greyhounds. The background includes a deserted mansion; a ghostly chorus of gabbling frighteners speeds across the sky; an uneasy, unsettling scene. The dream/past themes continue in a surreal Escher-referenced Unfathomable Staircase and open deceiving doors; go on to a deserted park and a discarded toy; next, to a nostalgic railway station, its engine rusting into oblivion. Lastly, in a small white-on-black layered composition, a pair of ghostly but sturdy walking shoes each wears a small, ghostly, woman pushing a supermarket trolley. The title is Sole Sisters, and the artist’s edgy emotional impact is here subverted by a cheerfulness and implied intimacy between the women.

In the small room Cath Head, in a new direction, shows small collages along with her stone and marble sculptings. Meticulous crafting and humour are highlights of both. I liked the I AM/AM I front/back – or back/front – ambivalence of her Oamaru stone ‘stopper’ – a memorial, a barrier? a boundary milestone, a foot-rest? A confronting lettered mirror becomes a balancing act between stating and que(e)rying its reflected definition as it proclaims in beautiful gold: It’s not you it’s me (who’s you, who’s me?). And the golden word on a piece of broken marble must be a modern artist’s last word on marble busts – or creation in general: Fragment.

Sue Marshall’s pair of delicately shaded black and white drawings of “the child” hover uneasily between serious and playful: first the subject cries her desire for a relationship, next she cries because it’s gone. The wry humour hints at Sappho’s appeal to Aphrodite – and historic Coles Funny Picture Book children whose edge of grotesquery elicits pity and pained withdrawal to the verge of repulsion; such open emotional pathos in a culture where expressed emotion is frowned on! (unless of course it’s obligatory in reality tv shows or disguised as sportsground hubris!) But as sub-titles Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 indicate, here is an ever-recurring story…

Justina Groeber places six student portraits beside extracts of their stories. Many images are smudged or smeared – sometimes quite heavily d/effaced – so that they cannot be definitive. Nor can the students be defined only by teacher or student: our stories, these portraits seem to say, are a mix of our own and others’ scripts, likeness and unlikeness always in transition. Justina marries text and visual representation, ironically pointing to and not quite relinquishing her (artist’s) presence by a title querying the concept of choice: To tell or not to tell. All the portraits have the same title, each is a numbered segment of the whole, each is seen with a lively, humane eye.

Lastly, to sum up, is Dorina Jotti’s beautifully photographed and presented confrontation of image and didactic authority in The end of meta-narratives. Two digital photographs hang side by side; in the first image, a spun-open book balanced on its side has unfolded into a sort of carousel or a circular concertina file. The second image, an open double-page, is crumpled and unwritten-on. Up close, the splayed concertina file’s text is just decipherable as biblical; the yet-to-be-written-on folio pages, ready to receive a story – whose story? – look already aged. Does this begin or end the show?

It’s a fitting PulseArt climax to a Pride show: these stories – our stories – in a perhaps “small and perfectly formed” way – challenge dominant culture stories.
Heather McPherson, 21 February

Reaching for the Moon

For lesbians who heard of – but were unable to see – the film about the 16-year relationship between Pulitzer-prize winning American poet Elisabeth Bishop and Brazilian architect Lota de Macedo Soares, the DVD of the 2013 film has arrived in library systems. Rental is $2 for one week.

ReachingCalled Reaching for the Moon, the superbly-made film unhesitatingly charts the crests and pitfalls of the love between these two creative, successful women, begun while Lota was still with another woman.

Mirando Otto thoroughly convinces as the shy but determined American poet: when they first meet, she refuses to echo Soares’ Portuguese word for ‘thankyou’ – a tiny but telling scene which shows Bishop’s strength. I found myself fancying Glória Pires, who plays the dynamic, feisty Lota. Her talent and confidence ripples through the scenes, making the final ones even more gripping.

There’s not much sex but the film isn’t weaker for that. What there is in abundance is emotion – real, recognisable-from-our-own-relationships emotion. Pull out your library card and give yourself a $2 treat sometime soon, thanks to our library system.

Sandi Hall

Lesbian community radio

Wellington Lesbian Community Radio Sundays 10-11am. Interviews, local and worldwide political news and great lesbian music from a wide range of presenters.783AM in the Wellington region or listen live or later on http://accessradio.org.nz.  You can also download five weeks of podcasts from Lesbian Community.

Interesting images

Chrissy Irvine, a young photographer at the University of Canterbury, has created a website of photographs and interviews about women and work, many with women who are doing non-traditional jobs.

See www.herstory.org.nz/ and see the Press article at

Rātaka takatāpui/Dyke Diary for April/ Paenga-whāwhā

Auckland/Tamaki Makaurau

WWI posterSunday 12 Reclaiming Our Herstory: New Zealand Women and World War One Women’s Studies Association event: 9.30am – 4.00pm, Ferndale House, 830 New North Rd, Mt Albert; speakers and cultural performance; $10 includes morning & afternoon tea; lunch catered by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and a koha would be appreciated. See WSA website for more information.

Monday 13 Kotare Trust presents ‘Progress and possibilities: a left wing think tank for Aotearoa’ with speaker Sue Bradford at Grey Lynn Community centre at 6pm.

Wednesday 15 Living Wage Movement presents the movie ‘Woman in Gold’ at Capitol Cinema, 610 Dominion Rd at 5.30pm. Drinks will be on sale before the start of the movie. Tickets $19.25 (2015 living wage rate). Purchase your tickets directly by paying the amount into Living Wage Movement Aotearoa NZ account: Kiwi Bank , account number 38 – 0838964-00 with reference ‘LW Auckland’

Thursday 16 Stories & Songs of NZ Women in WW1. Presented by Cathie Harrop and Ilona Rodgers at Auckland War Memorial museum at 2pm. Tickets $25. Also on Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 at 2pm.

Sunday 19 Coffee & Stroll 10am, coffee at Sitting Duck cafe, 141-151 Westhaven Dr; 10.30am, stroll along the Westhaven boardwalk to Pier Z (another cafe is available here), & back again. Dog friendly.

Thursday 23 East Asian Women’s Forum 10am – 12 midday at Panmure Community Hall. Four women’s perspectives on What it is it like to live in Auckland as a migrant woman?, followed by questions and discussion.

Saturday 25 Anzac Day commemoration, Charlotte Museum 2pm, opening of the vulva poppy exhibition: floor talk from the director, followed by an afternoon tea. 8A Bentink St, New Lynn.

Wednesday 29 Meeting co-hosted by Living Wage Aotearoa, and Service and Food Workers Union 10am- 12 noon, Auckland Women’s Centre 4 Warnock St, Grey Lynn

Thursday 30 WISE Women 2015, one-day conference promoting women’s leadership in technical industries. Orakei Bay, Auckland, $1,144 before March 5, $1,604 after. See www.conferenz.co.nz/wise.

Waikato/Central North Island

Saturday 18 Hamilton LSG Mini Golf at Lilliputt Mini Golf, first floor of Centre Place (access through Lido Cinema entrance at Centre Place). Drinks from 5.30pm at Mozaik Bar, Bryce Street followed by golf at 7pm. Golf Cost per person $14 (pay at the venue). Those intending to be part of the golf at 7pm need to RSVP to Karen by Tuesday 14 either by email karen.wilson@xtra.co.nz or by text 0274 967 698.

Saturday/Sunday 25–26 Diva Tramping Group Tongariro Crossing, 8-hour day walk across the active Mt Tongariro. Those wanting an easy option can walk part of the track and head back. Stay at Forest and Bird lodge on Ruapehu. Go up Friday night and tramp either Saturday or Sunday. Please book directly at Forest and Bird Lodge. It is $55/night for non-members and $35/night for members. Quote “Annette” when booking. Contact Annette Litherland, email livewell98@gmail.com

Wellington/Te Whanganui-a-Tara

Friday 10 Same-sex Dancesport competition practice for local and out-of-town dancers. Top floor, Whitireia Performance Centre, 25 Vivian St, 6-8pm.

Saturday 11 Annual Same-Sex Dancesport Competition Whitireia Performance Centre; spectators $10 adult/$5 child/student with ID. Doors open 1.15pm for competitors; grading events from 2.15pm; competition from 3pm. See the events on the DANSS website or contact dansscomp@xtra.co.nz

Sunday 12 Same-sex dancesport brunch Karaka Café, Wharewaka on the waterfront, 11am. Details will be confirmed at the competition.

Sunday 12 Wellington Lesbian Overlanders and Café Club meeting at Mana Railway Station ~10am, walk along Camborne Way to Plimmerton, suitable for all. Bring lunch, water and snacks. Phone Lainey 027 303 9006.

South Island/Te Wai Pounamu

Monday 6 Charlotte Museum exhibition, Onekaka Hall between Takaka and Collingwood, 3-8pm, see charlottemuseum.lesbian.net.nz.

Saturday 11 Charlotte Museum exhibition, Nelson Women’s Centre, 44 Trafalger Street, 3-7 pm, entry: koha. “Visits to to the Charlotte Museum always enhance our collective stories and women tell us how the museum experience makes them feel good as lesbians.” Since many lesbians cannot travel to Auckland two volunteers decided to take some of the museum around the South Island. They will have a display, two films on coming out and music and a performance with some songs. See charlottemuseum.lesbian.net.nz.

Sunday 12 dinner, Nelson 6.30pm, Green Bamboo Vietnamese Restaurant, 126 Hardy St. This is a new restaurant and very popular; we have booked a table and numbers are limited. Details from tlconnection.link@gmail.com.

Sunday 19 brunch/lunch, Nelson from 11am, The Suter Cafe, now at 28 Halifax St (opposite Nelson Public Library). Great coffee and food! Something for everyone. Details from tlconnection.link@gmail.com.

Thursday 23 Pene Kingsford at Boo Radley’s, Victoria St, Christchurch, 8pm.

Sunday 26 brunch/lunch, Motueka from 11am, T.O.A.D Hall Store and Cafe, 502 High St. Details from tlconnection.link@gmail.com.

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

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