Bigger Pride festival and parade
Human rights and sports in 2016
Successful women’s studies summer school
More calls to OUTLine
Singer wants work
The Charlotte Museum of lesbian culture was interviewing applicants for a part-time director at the end of January and expected to have the person on board in February. Museum founder Miriam Saphira says there was a lot of interest in the 15-hour-a-week position, and hopes that more funding means the hours may increase. The position will enable the museum to organise a series of events and a lively exhibition calendar.
The museum’s Pride Parade float will include trumpeter Edwina Thorne and drummers, and the trust is looking for more drummers on the truck, a driver and marshalls. The museum’s Pride exhibition, LadyLove, includes Caz Joyce, Maureen Jaggard, Fran Marno, Cath Head, Therry Weerts and South Island artist Fi Ginivin, some of whom are new to the museum. Therry Weerts will display fire poi and fire spitting at the Fire and Desire One Night Stand on Friday 13 at 8pm at the museum. The display will include 75 vaginas, some of which will also be shown at Garnet Station on Tuesday 24, when the Olivia Cruise ship arrives. Says Miriam: I’ve collected them over the years and been doing them for a long time”. See Dyke Diary for other museum Pride events.
During March and April 2015, Miriam and her partner Therry will take the ‘Museum in a box’ on a campervan tour of several South Island centres. The exhibition includes a performance, two short films, slides, a quilt and several small artifacts from the collection. The tour will take in Christchurch, Dunedin, Invercargill, Onekaka, Nelson and Greymouth (see Dyke Diary). If women in other centres want to organise a venue, which can be a large room, shed or café, please contact the museum.
While the tour is unfunded, the museum received a core sustaining grant of $12,000 for administration costs from the Auckland Council at the end of 2014, as one of the few art facilities in New Lynn. The museum is open from 1- 4pm on Wednesdays, with volunteer Natasha, and Sundays with Tanya. Miriam says that the Museum’s Facebook page has drawn more visitors, including from the South Island.
The museum has an office/studio space to let and welcomes enquiries from artists and women’s groups.
The Pride Festival this year features 80 events, seven more than last year over its expanded three week season, and the festival now has four staff. Board co-chair Megan Cunningham-Adams encourages women to support women’s events by attending, getting their friends along and volunteering. There are many lesbian-organised events, including Live orgy with comedian Freda Demarais for three nights; women’s outdoor music event Heroes Out West; art exhibitions by PulseArt and the Charlotte Museum; a lesbian heritage walk; a repeat screening of the 2014 OutTakes audience favourite feature movie Tru Love; and lesbian speed dating.
Megan says splitting the festival job into a director and an administration co-ordinator has worked well. The festival is really strong in the arts, she says, and the board wants to encourage more family-focused events, a digital space and perhaps a photography competition for 2016. She’s also pleased that Rotorua’s interest in their Parade float has stimulated the beginnings of a Bay Pride event.
The lead float will represent tangata whenua demigods in a collaboration between Te Roopu Uenuku, a Māori rainbow group, Pride and the Aotearoa Drag Kings. It will be led by a warrior and features taonga including a conch, korowai (flax cloaks), patu, and hoe (oars).
The Dry Land Swimmers, the first women’s marching group since Hero still has room for more members. Co-ordinator Kim Shephard-Thorn says the costume is a simple blue-and-white-striped t-shirt and shorts (not togs) and the routine can be learnt quickly. See their Facebook page for weekend practice times or email Kim.
Other firsts include the first ever Auckland Council float, getting into the spirit of the Gods and Monsters theme with the God of Bylaws; the Rotorua Chamber of Pride float featuring Kurangaituku, a birdwoman from Te Arawa mythology, co-ordinated by former TV presenter Tamati Coffey; the first ever NZ Police entry, featuring police horses, dogs and uniformed staff; the parade’s first brass entry, the Brass Bandits, including professional band members and still looking for more; and flots by Air New Zealand and Coca Cola, with Coke’s 12m truck being one of the parade’s biggest. The body painting of another creative performance marching group, Teotl, will recall Aztec gods.
Parade director Richard Taki says his team has reduced the gaps between floats and he expects a smoother parade than last year. Photo of Auckland Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse with Dykes on Bikes: Auckland Council
Pākehā gay men make up most of the board and committee members for the 2016 4th Asia Pacific Outgames (APOG) in Auckland, but board member Prue Kapua and committee member Powhiri Rika-Heke are advocating for diversity and inclusion in the games, and the board is still looking for more female members.
Powhiri, currently the only woman on the APOG committee and responsible for human rights, is keen to hear the ideas of lesbians and queer women about the APOG human rights conference. “I’ll talk to anyone about issues, workshops and presenters for human rights sessions.” Powhiri can whakapapa to Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Kahu, Te Rarawa, Te Aupouri, Te Arawa and Ngāti Pōrou, and also advocates for the involvement of Ngāti Whātua and other tangata whenua.
The APOG will run from February 13-20 and coincide with Pride 2016. The event is expected to bring several thousand extra visitors to Pride to participate in many sporting events, and a major human rights conference.
Other committee members are Executive Director Damien Strogen, treasurer Wayne Lockwood, secretary David Gurney and Skot Barnett, who is responsible for culture, Ashley Barratt for funding, Kent Phillips for sports, Eric Shang for IT and communications, and Reno Verikakis for marketing.
Lesbian lawyer Prue Kapua (Ngati Whakaue, Te Arawa, Ngati Kahungunu) is the only woman currently on the board, and fakafefine Phylesha Brown-Acton, who has Niuean, Cook Island, American, Samoan and Australian ancestry, the only fa’fafine. Both are focused on the human rights conference, and have participated in previous Outgames human rights events. The board also includes two Pākehā gay men, Kerry Underhill, Communications Director for Fonterra and Martin King, Human Resources Manager at Coca-Cola. The board will set the direction and provide governance oversight of the committee, which will organise the events with an expected cost of around $1million.
The committee is also keen to hear from sports teams and people willing to organise sports events.
The Women’s Studies Association has always had strong lesbian involvement; no surprise, given it is a feminist organisation formed to promote radical social change.
Lesbians were visible as organisers, presenters and participants at the Summer School in January, a first for the WSA. More than 30 women participated in the Kerikeri event. The theme was conversations between Māori and Tauiwi women 200 years ago and today. Longer presentations on history offered re-interpretations of traditional Pākehā perspectives on Marsden’s first Pākehā sermon 200 years ago. Field trips offered the opportunity to reconsider and appreciate the lives of Māori and Pākehā women.
The national rainbow phone line received 1,200 more phone calls in 2014 than in any previous year, and January calls have so far topped previous numbers for the month. OUTLine’s three part-time face-to-face counsellors are fielding more in-person and Skype bookings. OUTLine has also had so much interest in its next training intake for phone volunteers that it may have to run two early in the year. The training takes two weekends, March 21/22 and 28/29. Contact OUTLineNZ General Manager Trevor Easton on (09) 281 3409 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or see www.outline.org.nz/
Lesbian singer, actor and tutor Anji’s gigs and teaching no longer fit around her day job, so she has ditched the day job and is looking for live singing gigs around the North Island. Listen to her sing If you could read my mind or All of me, on her website http://anjisinger.wix.com/anjisinger. She has many years of experience as a professional singer and would love to sing at lesbian weddings, civil unions and birthdays. Formerly Wellington-based, Anji now lives in Auckland and offers singing and acting tuition there; email email@example.com
In our last print issue, we listed the New Zealand lesbians whose obituaries had been printed in the newsletter over 24 years. Our community has lost many others and we invite you to send us information about them.
Jane Khull, educationalist, nurse, activist and unionist, on the right of this picture, was one of these. Her partner Pleasance Hansen, on the left, says: “Her death impacted a lot of women who’d known her from the 1970s. She was always seen as a stalwart of the lesbian community, especially in Wellington, but also in Auckland when the ties between the two cities were a lot closer. She used to talk about leaping into a car on a Friday with mates and driving up to Auckland in time for the KG Club.”
Jane died at an Auckland hospice on November 22, 2004 “where ‘swarms’ of lesbians had been camping out in the kitchen, since her arrival there the previous Monday”. Pleasance said friends explained to the nurses that we were a clan, to help them deal with unexpected groups of women arriving late at night and managing a constant rotation around Jane’s bed.
“After her death,” says Pleasance, “we organised a lesbian convoy of five cars to carry her body back to Wellington, where she’d spent most of her life (over 20 years with me there, and her last five with me in Auckland). Anne Speir and Lisa Prager filmed the entire journey, as well as her very large lesbian funeral in Wellington on November 26.”
Parade and protest
I had a fun time in the Pride Parade swimming down Ponsonby Road again as part of the GLBTT swim team. Afterwards, I scrambled back up to the end of the route in time to see the ANZ, Westpac and Coca Cola Amatil floats, and felt uneasy at their ability to prove their liberal cred by buying their way into the parade. Just like last year, I was unaware until I read Facebook the next day that there had been any protest during the event.
Online discussions since then have highlighted three issues around the parade that raise big questions about its philosophy and direction as a public representation of our communities – all about mainstreaming and commercialisation.
I’ll take the easiest first – it’s the participation in the parade of members of parliament who have voted against our civil rights. It shows the importance of LGBTT votes that National, the most consistently anti-LGBTT party, was in the parade. I see marriage as a step down for us, but I share Andrew Whiteside’s anger at Korean MP Melissa Lee and Cook Islands MP Alfred Ngaro, who had the gall to be part of National’s parade contingent despite both voting against Louisa Wall’s marriage equality bill. Unless they apologise, or publicly announce a change of heart, they should have the integrity to stay away. And the Pride Festival board should insist that all organisations in the parade send only representatives who have a record of supporting our rights.
The second issue is the protest by three young people from No Pride in Prisons against the presence of police in uniform in the parade, because of their persistent racist targeting of Māori and Pacific peoples for tasering and apprehension, and against participation by Corrections staff, whose organisation has a long record of inhumane treatment of trans prisoners.
One of these protesters – the only Māori, a 22-year-old transwoman called Emmy – was grabbed by a security guard and dragged off the route as soon as they had unfurled their banner. Lesbian Heather Carnegie, the Glamstand manager, was photographed on the street pushing off another protester. Emmy’s arm was fractured, possibly when she was thrown to the ground, and Heather was filmed throwing away the phone of someone who was videoing Emmy being handcuffed. Emmy was not charged, but neither was the security guard who broke her arm. Emmy spent four days in hospital.
What was truly horrifying, though, was the callousness and lack of concern for her by Pride officials, compared to their concern for the ‘interruption’ in their parade. Parade media liaison Ian Pattison said: “You break into an organised parade and behave in that manner, you can expect to be handled. What did she expect? Hugs and kisses?” Parade director Richard Taki said the parade was “about us being supportive to each other”, but called the protest “dangerous and callous” and said his team “managed [the protest] well”. To me, the danger was from the security over-reaction, not from three people with a banner.
I don’t know if Pride or Auckland Council chose the security firm, but I haven’t seen anyone take responsibility for the way the security staff acted or Emmy’s broken arm. Many commenters on various Facebook pages said the protesters invited the injury for bringing a political issue to the parade. Obviously we’re mainstream now and Pride is no longer political, just a celebration.
It’s good that prejudiced organisations like the police are making their workplaces more supportive for their rainbow staff, but the police are still an arm of the state that protects Pākehā property and targets young Māori and poor people. Young takatāpui who get stopped all the time driving their parents’ nice cars, and lesbians with whānau in Ruatoki traumatised by the 2007 police invasion know this, and may be apprehensive rather than impressed about the “massive symbolism” of uniformed police in the parade.
The third issue is the pink paint thrown at two ANZ GayTMs and two police stations by the Queers against Injustice group. They were protesting the Pride Festival’s commercialisation, ANZ’s focus on wealthy queer consumers in Ponsonby, and its pinkwashing that “co-opts LGBT struggles to distract from and disguise unethical behaviour”. ANZ has a Rainbow Tick, and the proceeds from non-ANZ customer cards at the GayTMs are donated to OUTLine. However, any new LGBTT staff who want a job with ANZ will only get their shift roster one month in advance, and their days and hours will change. New staff won’t be able to have a reliable family life – definitely not family friendly! On Facebook, commenters were much more agonised at paint thrown over ATMs than they were about a protester’s broken arm.
So far, Pride has advertised community and corporate rates for the parade, but I’m unaware of any official community consultation about the parade’s direction. Does the board want to go the Mardi Gras route, a glitzy and theatrical event for television? Protests reveal contradictions and conflicts – it’s clear that Pride’s commercialisation and mainstreaming suits some richer Pākehā gays and lesbians, and is not working for some of the most marginalised sectors of our communities. Do we let in anyone who pays the fee and has a ‘we-like-gays’ float? To me, having a Rainbow Tick isn’t enough – it doesn’t deal with other corporate nastiness that oppresses us in different ways. What should Pride’s conditions be for sponsorship?
Clearly parade organisers had decided to move protestors off the street, but why couldn’t they have turned the three around and told them to walk down the road in front of the police holding their banner? Win/win, right? Both groups get heard with no broken bones. Ngahuia te Awekotuku founded gay liberation in Aotearoa with protest – it’s a betrayal of our history for Pride officials to forbid it. Pride should be big enough to embrace protest.
The Pride board needs to consult its communities, take stock about its direction, and rethink its defensive and callous reaction to the protest. I suggest a public community meeting, with strong facilitation to enable a vigorous and respectful discussion of these thorny issues. If all we get next year is tighter security, all of us will have lost.
Since writing this, the board sent me their news releases, one of which stated: “The Pride Festival apologises for anyone who was harmed during our event, and completely support the right to protest and, in this case, the protesters’ cause.” However, they also said they were “satisfied the response to the [protest] incident met with event Health and Safety plan”. They plan to “consult with stakeholders as part of the regular post-parade review” in invited No Pride in Prison to discuss their involvement in 2016.
What do you think?