Haratua / May 2017

What was happening in May? Here’s our Haratua update – all items collected in one handy page!

News
People
Media
Opinion
Dyke Diary

Ngā pitopito kōrero, news

National
Topp Twins crowd-funding campaign
Swim success
Pay equity progress
Regional
Wellington Rainbow Political Panel
Wellington Lesbian Radio moves to FM
Queenstown’s Gay Ski Week

Topp Twins crowd-funding The long drop

Topp Twins Long DropImagine a not-too-distant future world in a major water crisis. In the high country South Island town of Mollerville, the bowling green lawn is dead, the pub is out of beer, Camp Mother’s hydrangeas are dying, and Ken Moller is planning to sell his sheep farm. But the Kens make a discovery, bring their community together and fight to save the water.

This is the draft plot of the Topp Twins’ latest movie project. They are seeking $25,000 to write the script without NZ Film Commission funding.

If they are successful, they hope to be filming this time next year. Donors of more than a $500 will be thanked in the film’s end credits. See their Boosted campaign video. JR

Swim success

TAMS1The three female members of the LGBT Team Auckland Masters Swimmers (TAMS) were the only TAMS swimmers to win medals in the World Masters Games in Auckland in April.

Deborah Hambly of Masterton, centre, has swum with TAMS in Masters competitions around the country for five years. She won three pool medals in her in 45-49 age group: a silver in the 200 metre butterfly in 3m7s; a bronze in the challenging 400m individual medley in 6m25s, and a bronze in the 100m butterfly in 1m21s. She also came second in the 1.5km ocean race.

Elizabeth Anderson, left, came third out of 13 in the women’s 65-69 200m backstroke, in a time of 3m50s, and Jenny Rankine, right, also came third out of 17 in the women’s 50m butterfly sprint, in 38.9s. The photo was taken by the TAMS coach, Cynthia Borne.

We’d love to hear of any other lesbians and queer women who were successful in the games.

Pay equity progress

nzpsa-payequityA significant pay equity event in April – a settlement between government and unions with members employed in the care sector, overwhelmingly staffed by women – will have a big impact on lesbians around the country.

While the size of the proposed settlement ($2 billion!) ensured lots of publicity, it applies to 55,000 workers over five years. Pay rates for existing staff from July 1 this year will be between $19 and $23.50 an hour; note that the Living Wage moves to $20.20 at this date. By July 1 2021, entry level wages will be $21.50 an hour, with a top rate of $27.

Pay equity prue hymanWellington region economist Prue Hyman, left, who is featured in the Treat her Right equal pay campaign, says: “A lot of lesbians are low-paid women, and there have been lesbians involved in the campaign over many years”.

So, it’s a good but not great financial change. But it’s great for the recognition of the principles of pay equity – comparing work done substantially by women with work requiring similar levels of skill and training done substantially by men.

There are also concerns. The first is ensuring that the pay raises get passed on fully and quickly: this should be straightforward (it’s government funding directly for wages only), but it could well be complicated in implementation. For example, might employers move to lose their more experienced staff and recruit new and therefore lower-paid staff? Might they cut hours of work to reduce costs? Further, what about other very low paid workers not covered by this settlement? What about whanau caring for disabled family members?

Then there’s the new Equal Pay Bill, which the government released almost immediately after the Pay Equity settlement. The government says the Bill will make it easier for women to file pay equity claims, but Linda Hill, Wellington member of the Coalition for Equal Value and Equal Pay, says the Bill does the opposite.

Prue Hyman says the Bill is terrible: “It’s designed to pull the drawbridge up on any future settlements. There are so many points where the employer can be awkward, and every step has mediation if workers don’t agree. To prove merit, you will have to prove historic as well as current discrimination, which the current Equal Pay Act doesn’t require. It’s designed not to work.”

Treat her right campaignLinda says the requirement to prove historic discrimination will mean that women in modern low-paid, women-dominated jobs won’t be able to make pay equity claims. The Bill also requires existing pay equity claims to be done under the new Act, which will make the claims less likely to succeed. The Bill also bars women from the six years of back pay given to all other successful wage claims.

Unions have also warned that the changes signalled in the proposed Bill would have prevented the carers’ settlement from happening, if they were in place now. The Bill’s mechanism for choosing and agreeing comparators is much more restrictive, limiting options to the same employer, similar business and the same industry sector.

What can you do? Get involved in the campaign with your union, if appropriate. Sign the equal pay pledge in the Treat her Right campaign (pictured above) run by the NZ Council of Trade Unions. Support the Living Wage campaigns and the Pay Equity Challenge Coalition. And get involved in forthcoming Equal Pay Act actions.

See the NZCTU media release; the NZNO media release; the Care and Support Equal Pay Negotiations – Agreed Position between Government and union representatives; and Gordon Campbell on the aged-care settlement.

Alison and Jenny

Wellington Rainbow Political Panel

IDAHOBiT2MPs and political parties will respond to issues raised by Rainbow community representatives at a Rainbow Political Panel in Parliament buildings on Wednesday May 17.

The event marks the annual International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBiT), focusing this year on the theme of family.

The panel has been organised by Wellington Rainbow youth advocacy group InsideOUT, the Human Rights Commission, the Intersex Trust Aotearoa/NZ, Tiwhanawhana, TrustMosaic, Rainbow Wellington, Bella Simpson and the Rainbow Cross-Party Parliamentary Group. Presenters will draw on years of activism, community work and research.

The event will run from 6 to 7.30pm at 1 Molesworth St. It is free, but audience members need to RSVP by May 10 to the IDAHOBiT panel registration so they can be checked off the list by Parliamentary security. See the event Facebook page. JR

Lesbian radio moves to FM

Wtn lesbian radioWellington Community Lesbian Radio, broadcast on Sunday from 10-11am on Access Radio, has moved to 106.1FM.

It will remain on AM only until mid-May, so retune your devices now. The move aims to enhance quality, but may make it harder to receive the programme for some areas outside Wellington.

To hear it live, go to www.accessradio.org.nz and click on the listen live button. To hear it later, go to accessradio.org.nz/lesbian-community.html to listen to the last eight programmes or download a podcast. Programmes can also be downloaded from the programme webpage, which also lists upcoming presenters. The programme Facebook page links to topics discussed during programmes.

Wtn les radioWellington Community Lesbian Radio has broadcast weekly for well over 30 years, and provides lively and varied coverage of lesbian and Rainbow news, politics, activities and music. New volunteer presenters are welcome and full training is provided; email les.radio.welly@gmail.com

Queenstown’s Gay Ski Week

Gay Ski WeekQTThis annual event, billed as the biggest LGBTI winter festival in the southern hemisphere, will run from September 2 to 9 in Queenstown and include 13 events.

The week kicks off with a Gibbston Valley afternoon Pre-Party on Saturday 2, followed by the Opening party at 7pm. On Sunday 3, Gayote Ugly will feature Coyote Ugly-inspired bar dancers, and the popular Queer Quiz returns on Monday 4. The Remarkables skifield will host some creative outfits at the Diversity Day Drag Race the next morning, with prizes for competitors and supporters.

There are bound to be some in suspenders and high heels at the Rocky Horror Picture Show in Arrowtown on Tuesday 5, while the Gibbston Valley Long Lunch the next day will be a more relaxed and gastronomic event.

Miss Ribena of Auckland’s Family Bar will host the popular SkyCity Karaoke on Wednesday 6, while onesies will feature on the Cardrona Ski Resort slopes on Thursday 7. A toga pool party will be held at the Nugget Point Spa in the afternoon and Miss Kola Gin and her performers will host the Skyline cabaret above Queenstown that evening.

Gay Ski Week Mandy Sally Coronet Peak ski area will host night skiing from 4pm on Friday 8, followed at 9pm by a Leather and Lace party at Vinyl Underground. The Propaganda Gold Party at the Memorial Centre in Queenstown on Saturday 9 is the week’s final event.

Gay Ski Week has continued to grow since Sally (right) and Mandy Whitewoods (left) started it in 2012. Tickets and passes are now on sale, with passes ranging from $345 to $940 and individual events from free to $135.

See the website.

Nga wāhine, people

The challenges of solo farming
Jenni James – getting shit done

The challenges of solo farming

LNA’s print predecessor, the Tāmaki Makaurau Lesbian Newsletter, first profiled South Otago sheep farmer Megan Barclay four years ago. She has been running her Scots grandparents’ 234ha sheep farm on Ngai Tahu land at Clydevale, near the Clutha River, for 13 years, with the help of four sheep dogs, a quad bike and a tractor. However, since 2013 she’s faced injury and the work of protecting the farm creeks.

Megan Barclay“In March 2016, I was putting the rams through a footbath and a big one, about 100kg, pushed me over and I tore a ligament and the meniscus cartilage on my right knee,” says Megan, who weighs under 60kg. “I finished the job then iced the knee and looked for work I could do with my knee in the air. So that afternoon I sowed out grass on the tractor.” Luckily, autumn and winter are her quiet time, averaging ten hours a day feeding out and doing maintenance.

Megan was in pain and using walking sticks for five months before her knee came right. “I couldn’t sit still for longer than 10 minutes or it would seize and lock. Every morning I drove to a heated pool 30 minutes away, which warmed it and enabled me to function. It took until August before it stopped hurting; I started walking on soft ground with tramping poles. I couldn’t run, which I loved, and I couldn’t cycle, so thank god for swimming.”

“It was a month before I could see a specialist in Dunedin and another month before I got the result of the MRI.” She was told she’d need surgery, but that no operation spaces would be available until January this year. However, “four months after the injury I got to see a surgeon who decided it would heal itself.” Megan is now back doing the recreational trail running she loves.

“There were only a few farm jobs I couldn’t do. My father helped with drenching the ewe lambs and I sold off the last of the works lambs. I took everything really slowly and because I couldn’t sit still, I kept on going,” she says. “At this time of the year the rams were out with the girls and every ten days I’d change the permanent colour crayon on the rams’ chest harnesses.”

The colours transferred to the ewes, so Megan could tell which ewes has been mated on the first ten days of April and would therefore lamb early in September. “If a storm came through, I concentrated on the ewes who are lambing. In winter I bandaged the knee and strapped it with a brace and hobbled along marking out small blocks with electric fences. I did get someone to help out at lambing in September,” her busiest time, “but my knee was fine by then.”

Megan & dogs“Luckily it was a mild winter, but I was worn out, tired and frazzled, waking up with pain in the middle of the night. It was emotionally hard. When you’re on your own, you haven’t got anyone to ask how you’re feeling or cook your meals. You’ve just gotta get on with it.”

Megan normally works long hours, seven days a week. She has 1,800 Texel Coopworth ewes, 500 hoggets, 40 calves and 18 rams. Like all farmers, her tasks are dictated by the seasons, and she has few breaks away from the farm. [The photo at the bottom is of her and her mum on a cycling holiday in France, during one rare holiday.]

“In July the ewes get an ultrasound in the yard and I find out which ones are pregnant with more than one.” Lambing in September is busy, with tailing and tractor work to sow grass into the winter crop paddocks. In early December, she drenches and weans the lambs, and sends the first crop of male lambs to the works at Balclutha.

Unlike her childhood, when wool provided most of the income, now meat production earns 90 percent, making farming more intensive. At Christmas and New Year she dags the sheep and prepares the lambs for shearing. Then it’s crutching, “shaving their bottoms with a handpiece so they don’t get flystrike, more drenching, and mowing seed heads off the grass”.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe other big change has been preserving the four creeks on the farm, which wander through two-thirds of the paddocks. “When my grandfather bought the farm, the only water source were the creeks in the paddocks. When I took over the farm from my dad 13 years ago, a third of the area had water troughs.” Megan paid $20,000 to get water to troughs in every paddock.

“As farmers we love our land. You see a fence and you think my grandad did that.  There were only eight paddocks on the whole farm when they brought it and now there are over 30.  Each new addition, whether a fence or a shelter belt, gives you such pride.”

Megan’s biggest ongoing job is protecting the creeks on the farm with culverts and fences to meet the Otago Regional Council’s plan for swimmable water sources by 2020. “We all want swimmable creeks and rivers, but that has huge financial implications for farmers.”

“When stock or vehicles go through creeks, there’s not allowed to have any sediment go into the creek. The cost of keeping cattle out is huge. Last year I bought five culverts for $15,000, but couldn’t afford to put them in. This year wool prices dropped by half, because lots of people are buying synthetic carpets. It cost $10,000 to install all the culverts.”

The next plan is to build fences along the creeks. “We’d love to have them fenced with riparian planting, but I have to do it out of a shrinking income. If it’s too hard, then conglomerates end up buying farms and it becomes less a family-owned industry and more industrial farming, which doesn’t look out for local interests. There are changing times ahead for the farming sector.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMegan believes that the levels of sediment and E coli in the water set by the government and councils “are not necessarily that achievable. For example, one farmer near us has a natural bush area above a creek, but has measured high E coli levels in that water, possibly from a dead bird or possum. The E coli levels dropped in one creek I fenced off, but then increased again, maybe because of the ducks in it.”

Megan has leased 30ha to a cropping farmer “but will take that back next year and increase my stock numbers. I raised 40 bobby calves last year, but haven’t figured out whether I’ll increase the numbers of cattle or sheep. It’s silty land, not appropriate for too many heavy cattle, but cattle are less work than sheep. Then again, cattle are really expensive at the moment; I have to do the figures.”

Megan is still single; “I don’t get out much and don’t see many lesbians. I’m happy being me here, other people treat you as you are. The farrier who came to do my horse’s shoes was yarning away – his wife was apparently being a bit stroppy and he said ‘You’ll have the same problems with women as I do’. I knew nothing about his life but he knew about me and was okay with it all.”

Injuring her knee “makes you think about what else you could do, but I was in so much pain there was no way I could have done a desk job, I couldn’t sit still. It’s the kind of fall that could happen in a supermarket. I haven’t any other plans for the future. I love working outdoors with animals.”

Jenny Rankine

Jenni James – getting shit done

Who is the woman at the centre of the ‘Helping Hands‘ fundraiser?  What has Jenni James been doing in Greece and Lesvos?

Two years ago Jenni was planning a trip to Europe. She had spent a year travelling in the UK, Europe and the US, been back home in Aotearoa New Zealand long enough to plan the next adventure, had packed up and sold or stored her belongings.

Denied a visa to the UK, she looked around for somewhere else to go, something else to do. The Red Cross didn’t need any more volunteers in Samoa (this was just after the 2015 cyclone), and then information on Facebook popped up. An Australian-born but long-term Greek resident said she needed help supporting Syrian refugees in Lesvos.

CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=509500

Jenni got in touch with Melinda, who with her husband was providing some very basic support via their restaurant in Molyvos. Within a couple of weeks Jenni was on her way, one of a number of independent volunteers providing assistance. At that time there were around 250 refugees arriving daily by little boat across the 6.5-8km of Aegean Sea between Turkey and Lesvos. (These were little boats designed to carry 15-30 people, taking 50-60 plus luggage; engines failed, they sank, the sea is rough …)

The coastline of Lesvos is rugged, so the 15km stretch where boats could come ashore had huge pressure as refugee numbers increased over the next few months to more like 6,000 a day. The small number of international volunteers were supplemented by official agencies: UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) and a number of European-based NGOs.

Making everything useful: a cooking stove made out of car wheel rims

Jenni’s degree (Bachelor of Environmental Resource Management), practical experience (Vinegar Hill events) and impetus to get shit done all came to the fore as she project managed a transportation system to help move refugees the 63km from Molyvos to Mytilene, from where they could transit to mainland Greece. Operating out of a closed-for-the-winter nightclub, aiming to have refugees delayed no more than 24 hours, she implented a system that had people issued with tickets for food and a bus. Young men were encouraged to walk if possible (with a rest stop organised at the halfway mark). UNHCR and NGOs supported with the provision of toilets, medical facilities, clothing and shoes, power/phone charging and, later, showers.

An operating smart phone is an essential, Jenni explains: “It’s a lifeline keeping families in touch, both as refugees and with those left behind.”

Over the winter the numbers of refugees reduced, but their risks at sea increased enormously. Jenni and colleagues would be watching boats coming in to view and disappearing, not always making it to shore.

In 2016 borders out of Greece had closed, increasing pressures enormously in the country, which is still in a severe recession. Jenni’s focus and location had moved to northern Greece: in Thessaloniki around 125,000 people are long-term ‘camping’ (in a nylon tent if they are lucky) in an area that snows in winter. They arrive there with almost nothing: no food, shelter, clothing, blankets.

Alongside UNHCR and NGOs providing medical assistance and food distribution, Jenni’s Get Shit Done team started as a mobile workshop operating out of a van. The team has grown to be 10-30 independent volunteers who now have a large workshop: recent projects have been constructing wooden flooring for tents and a bike project. There are significant distances for refugees to travel in and around this village, and bikes provide some independence.

What does ‘independent volunteer’ mean? Like Jenni, they are not contracted or supported by official agencies, but self funded for a period of weeks or months, some, like Jenni, for longer. “I just want to get shit done”, says Jenni, “and I couldn’t do that if I was part of UNHCR.” She has developed good networks with the agencies, and with the Greek military who run the camps. Jenni’s funding comes from her NZ fundraisers, who have helped her raise enough for basic living costs: food, power and accommodation. “I make myself take a day off each week, but it’s really hard to stop – there is just so much need.”

What does the 2017 mission hold? The camps are longterm, and have basic infrastructure: toilets and showers, food, power, drainage, flooring for the tents. A focus will now be on community development and support, learning for adults and children (Greek and German language, for example), building children’s playgrounds based on a modular design re-using as much material as possible. Washing machines are another priority: “women who have washed clothes in a plastic bucket for a year have really had enough of that.” And a new system for distributing food and clothing is being developed: opening free ‘shops’ – rather than deliver uniform packaged supplies, people can come to select what they need. “It promotes choice and dignity,” says Jenni, “and that’s so important.”

See Jenni, and refugees, on YouTube in September and November 2015.

Updated: see Jenni on Seven Sharp in April (4.30 minutes).

How can you help? The Get Shit Done team has a Facebook page and website. Donations can be made via PayPal (thegetshitdoneteam@gmail.com), Givealittle, and bank transfer to JA James, ANZ 01-0249-0101288-00.

Te ao pāpāho, media

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

Dissecting Holocaust humour
Documentary film festival: what’s in it for lesbians?
Reasons to read May Sarton

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

Dissecting Holocaust humour

Deb Filler and HelenLesbian Kibrew expat comedian Deb Filler, pictured left with Helen Clark after Deb’s recent New York show, will present the Auckland screening on June 4 of Ferne Pearlstein’s feature documentary The last laugh, about humour and the Holocaust and when or even if it’s appropriate to laugh at genocide. Top comedians, including Sarah Silverman, Judy Gold, Susie Essman, Mel Brooks, Harry Shearer and Deb, as well as holocaust survivors, discuss a wealth of comic material about the Holocaust. Catch it at Auckland’s Q Theatre on Thursday June 1 and Sunday 4, and Wellington’s Roxy on Monday May 15 and Saturday 20. Book tickets on the website. JR

Documentary film festival: what’s in it for lesbians?

A quick overview of the International Documentary Film Festival, screening 10 – 21 May in Wellington and 24 May – 5 June in Auckland.

Although there looks to be a strong and interesting programme (69 films!), the offerings for lesbians appear very limited. No films are presented as being by, about or for lesbians. Five films are categorised “Women”, and 1 as LGBT (transition of a young person coming out as a transwoman).

Here is a list of women-focused films that may be interesting or enjoyable. We haven’t previewed them so this is only a guide.

Most likely to present women taking control of their lives (fingers crossed)

Fallen Flowers, Thick Leaves, Chinese women discovering their sexuality

Second equal, featuring young women, may not offer as much hope as we would like

Alphabetically,

Bride of the Nile, in traditional Egyptian families a young woman must marry a man she has not chosen – frequent use of the word “tragedy”

For Akheem, follows a US Black teenage girl through significant schooling and social difficulties, including pregnancy

Supergirl, an Orthodox Jewish pre-teen who has been setting adult power-lifting records since the age of 8

Also strongly featuring women

Aida’s Secrets, while the focus is on 2 brothers in their 70s, meeting after being separated and adopted in 1945, Aida is their mother

Beauties of the Night, addressing the realities and challenges of Mexican ‘showgirls’ from the 1970s and 80s

Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, self-explanatory

Whitney: Can I Be Me?, “tells Whitney Houston’s emotionally lucid and poignant life story”

Visit http://docedge.nz/festival/#films for screening times and booking information.
Alison K

Reasons to read May Sarton

May Sarton was born in May 1912, and we lost her in 1995. I had always thought of her as a US writer (of poetry, novels, memoir), but she was born in Belgium, though then resident in the US for most of her life. Her first publications were in the late 1930s and she had 4 works published in the 3 years 1992 to 1994 – a well over 50-year span! Wikipedia provides a good introduction and overview.

Because her writing is both prolific and varied (check out her publications in Wikipedia), you may have come across her in different ways.

For me, it was a couple of very different novels: The Education of Harriet Hatfield (1989) and As We Are Now (1973). I think of them very fondly, although on reflection they are not necessarily great works, and may – I haven’t read them for some time – have dated somewhat. They both feature older women, but their circumstances are apparently considerably different: Harriet’s woman partner of 30 years has died, and with the inheritance she opens a women’s bookshop. She has been privileged: a significant part of her education is her coming to recognise the privilege she has had and still has. Caro (As We Are Now) is in an old people’s home, in an increasingly unhappy and disturbing situation. But then we come to the similarities, which for me – satisfyingly – feels like the best kind of wish fulfilment: they take action, are free and strong enough themselves to face challenges; they act also on behalf of others, because they can and because it’s the right thing to do.

Then there is Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing (1965), filmed in 2004. And nearly 20 other fiction works.

If you appreciate poetry, you should give yourself the opportunity to enjoy this work of hers (at least 17 publications) – try the library, secondhand bookshops, and poetic friends. Online, the biggest treats will be to hear May Sarton read: try My Sisters, O My Sisters (3 minutes on YouTube) and the Harper Audio collection (37 minutes). You can also enjoy Leaves before the Wind (text on a film background); a reading of Poem from the Autumn Sonnets, with some wonderful photos; her New Year Poem, read by Garrison Keillor (the second half of the 5 minute clip). The Poetry Foundation has 38 poems available.

If you are interested in writing, generally, or in journalling/memoir in particular, then you have a large field to draw on: 13 works published. Her work in this genre, as in fiction and poetry, have strong champions in relation to both the quality of her writing and her subject matter.

And you can read more of May Sarton online: read a reasonably lengthy interview from 1992 in Weber Studies, and there is a YouTube video of May Sarton quotes (6 minutes).

Finally, there are the Sarton Women’s Book Awards which are given annually to women authors writing chiefly about women in memoir, biography and fiction (in 5 categories, including Young Adult) published in the United States and Canada. Lesbian entries are explicitly welcomed in all categories. While not all works may be easily obtainable in Aotearoa (they must be published by small/independent publishers, university presses, or self-published), the website provides a great reading list with award winners back to 2011.

Alison

He huatau, opinion

Translesbians in lesbian-feminist spaces

Nadia Gush, pictured with cartoons by Helen Courtney, was contracted to work as Director of the Charlotte Museum Trust in 2015, and is one of many discussing the significance of their own historical practice in the edited collection History making a difference: New approaches from Aotearoa, recently published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

NadiaA little more than a fortnight into my former job as director of the Auckland-based Charlotte Museum Trust, I was confronted with the political conundrum of translesbian presence in lesbian feminist spaces. Surrounded by iconic lesbian heritage ranging from a collection of 1970s t-shirts adorned with political slogans, to replica goddess figurines from antiquity, a person came through the Museum doors for whom 1970s lesbian t-shirts were, at best, an uncomfortable fit. This visitor to the Museum was welcomed by Miriam Saphira with customary enthusiasm. Seemingly genuinely interested in the displays, they diligently absorbed the information on lesbian history provided by the Museum’s lower rooms. They were polite and friendly. They were also silent from the moment they entered the Museum to the moment they left. As they signed their name in the visitor’s book, I was struck by how inherently unwelcoming the Charlotte Museum must seem to translesbians. No amount of welcoming smiles from front of house staff and volunteers could make up for the exclusivity of identity politics on display in the Museum; this was not her history, but it was being written in her name.

Charlotte labrysesI do not know whether the person who came into the Museum identified specifically as ‘translesbian’ – a term signalling both transgender and lesbian identities –  all I knew was that they had made the effort to visit the Museum, and that they were positioned as an outsider by the stories held and preserved within that Museum. What I am also only able to speculate on, is whether or not they felt like the Museum had offered them what they were looking for. Many women who visit the Charlotte Museum experience a sense of validation and community, appreciating an opportunity to look into the past and see people who were ‘just like them’. Did my potentially translesbian visitor feel validated? Did they feel like they were looking at people ‘just like them’? I found the possibility that someone who identified as lesbian might feel ostracised within a museum dedicated to lesbian heritage and culture to be deeply troubling.

The tension between translesbian presence and lesbian feminist politics is much larger than the very human question of whether or not visitors to a museum feel represented in displays and exhibitions. ‘Woman’, as a political category, has consolidated around the notion of a body capable of giving birth. ‘Lesbian’ has in many instances followed suit, particularly in the context of lesbian feminism. An example of this is apparent in the May-June 1982 issue of the New Zealand newsletter Lesbian Lip. This particular issue of the lesbian-only newsletter demonstrates how lesbian feminists could be motivated to lay claim to a particular gendered archetype that prioritised the birthing body.

Charlotte MagazinesUnder the heading ‘Are you a lesbian or a woman?’ the newsletter’s feminist authors contemplated the relationship between ‘women’s liberation’, and ‘lesbian liberation’, arguing in turn for a new definition of ‘woman’ itself. Under the heading ‘lesbian and queers’, one author argued that ‘woman’ exclusively meant white, middle-class, and heterosexual. In turn lesbians could not be women. Lesbians may have been unnatural aberrations, they may have been Godless sinners, but they did not fall within the contemporary definition of what a woman might be. It was in response to this that lesbian feminists began to imagine a utopia where ‘woman’ could mean non-heterosexual, and could exist outside of patriarchy.

For many it was ‘the goddess’ that became a symbol of this utopian state of being. Marija Gimbutas was instrumental in this movement, revolutionary in claiming that the preponderance of female Neolithic figurines found in various archaeological sites demonstrated that there was a pre-patriarchal community in human history. She believed that this community centred on the Mother-Goddess, and because of this, it was men who were positioned as second-class citizens rather than women. Gimbutas was influential amongst spiritual feminists of the 1980s and 1990s who chose to identify with this mythic pre-patriarchal way of life. The drawing accompanying the articles on (not) being a woman in Lesbian Lip evoked this pre-patriarchal ideal. It did so in that it depicted a Minoan snake goddess. In Gimbutas’ pre-patriarchal community, lesbian feminists saw the possibilities of their own utopia. Of course, what made Gimbutas’ Neolithic figurines identifiable as female was that they all had vulvac shapes inscribed upon what presented as their lower torsos. Many such figurines are assumed to be fertility idols.

Charlotte poppy vulvaWhen my presumed translesbian visitor came into the Charlotte Museum, she was confronted with this version of lesbian feminism, whereby the vulva is the icon of lesbian identity. It was plainly referenced in the Museum’s art and heritage collections. Was this her body? Did she feel as if her corporeal existence was encompassed within the cabinet showcasing replica goddess figurines? Did she care?

The issue at the heart of the political conundrum that is translesbian presence in lesbian feminist spaces is that the core of lesbian feminism is troubled by the vulva-less body.  We might politely suggest that what is in someone else’s pants is no business but their own, and we might hold trans-friendly events with fervour, but lesbian feminism has not trodden the path of politeness. By utilising the vulva as an icon of strength and sisterhood, ‘lesbian’, as a category of identity, has been forged in ways inherently antagonistic to translesbians. No amount of ‘and you can come too’ is going to provide translesbians with the authenticity that lesbian feminism has given to the body capable of bleeding and birthing through a vagina. In turn, an aspiration to truly embrace the full diversity of lesbian experience is necessarily ontologically earth shattering.

Rātaka takatāpui, Dyke Diary

We list groups that meet at the same time and venue on the Social and Support pages. Information is organised by region (north to south, then overseas), then by date.

Northland/Te Tai Tokerau
Auckland/Tamaki Makaurau
Waikato/Central North Island
Wellington/Te Whanganui-a-Tara
Nelson area/Whakatū
Christchurch/Ōtautahi
Otago/Southland/Te taurapa o te waka
Overseas/Rāwāhi

Northland/Te Tai Tokerau

Saturday 20 Gay in the Bay Pink Drinks get-together in Kerikeri: everyone brings their own drinks; the hosts provide nibbles, glasses and ice, asking a donation to help cover the costs of catering. See the website for details.

Auckland/Tamaki Makaurau

Monday 1 He Tohu exhibition and the Women’s Suffrage Petition with Philippa Doyle and National Council of Women NZ (NCW) Vice President Vanisa Dhiru, talking about the development and aims of the permanent exhibition of constitutional documents that shape our nation, and the NCW role in guiding the exhibition content. 5.30-7pm, Window Room, ground floor, Auckland Regional Office, National Library of NZ, 8-14 Stanley St, Auckland.

ZoeLyons-380x285Tuesday 2-Saturday 6 “Little Misfit Zoe Lyons (UK), 8.45pm each night, Loft at Q Theatre. Tickets $30/26/24 + service fee. Part of International Comedy Festival.

The MuseThursday 4 The Muse duo play original instrumentals, 6.30-8pm, Ponsonby Cruising Club, Westhaven Marina with beautiful harbour views. Bar snacks and meals, accessible, parking nearby. Every Thursday in May (NZ Music Month).

Posh RYThursday 4 “It’s a bit posh” charity auction in support of Rainbow Youth and Rural LGBT communities. 6.30-10pm, ASB Cube, 12 Jellicoe St, Wynyard Quarter. Includes MC Ali Mau. $79/adult, $1,000 for VIP table of 10. Visit website for tickets and details.

dykehikesprofileSunday 7 Dyke Hike 11am, Waitakere Ranges near Anawhata. This collection of tracks are a bit more challenging than most in the Waitakere Ranges. The tracks are likely to feel a bit rougher, but interesting and less travelled. We’ll be crossing small streams and walking up a few steeper sections. Note: Kauri Die Back: this disease is killing Kauri in the Waitakere Ranges. To avoid spreading this disease please ensure all boots and walking poles are clean before entering any park or reserve and follow instructions for disinfecting boots on arrival at infected and at risk sites. For more information go to www.kauridieback.co.nz. 4-5 hours. Grade: Moderate (boots recommended, expect a few hills and stream crossings are possible) to hard (boots required, tracks may be rough and difficult, steep hills possible. A reasonable level of fitness will help you to enjoy these hikes. If you are not an experienced hiker, we require you to complete two moderate hikes before you join us in a hike graded hard).  Email hike@lesbian.co.nz, visit www.lesbian.co.nz or the Facebook page.

AU Pride WeekMonday 8 Rainbow Expo showcases queer groups on campus with a vegetarian, vegan and meat BBQ, popcorn, candyfloss and music, beginning Pride Week at the University of Auckland (AU). 12noon-2pm, the Quad, City Campus, free. See the Facebook event page. Email Isabella, Queer Rights Officer, qro@ausa.org.nz.

Tuesday 9 Trans Academic Symposium part of AU Pride Week, speaking about their research and experiences. 4-6pm, location to be confirmed, snacks included, free.

Tuesday 9 UniQ Games Night, part of Pride Week, 6-9pm, Room 312-398 under Shadows Bar, University of Auckland City Campus, snacks, free.

Wednesday 10 Global queer students meeting as part of Pride Week, a coffee group for queer/questioning/interested international students. 2pm, Queerspace, up the stairs in the University of Auckland Quad, opposite the stairs to Shadows Bar. Tea, coffee and snacks, free.

Wednesday 10 Rainbow Afternoon Tea #freefood as part of Pride Week, 2.30pm, outside the Student Kitchen, Main Atrium, University of Auckland Grafton Campus, free. All Grafton students welcome.

Thursday 11 Pride morning tea at University of Auckland Epsom campus, 10-11.30am,  student room A201, main reception building, 74 Epsom Ave. Free Pride-themed food for all Epsom students. Grab a Pride Craccum, and chat to the Queer Rights Officer.

Thursday 11 Carol movie screening by Hidden Perspectives as part of Pride Week. This 2015 British-American romantic drama is set in New York City during the early 1950s, and tells the story of a forbidden affair between an aspiring woman photographer and an older woman going through a difficult divorce. Popcorn and snacks provided. 6pm, Arts 1, Rm 209, University of Auckland City Campus, free.

Thursday 11 Hot damn, it’s a queer slam! Open mic for queer poetry, original or one you like. Any poetry welcome. Prizes include UBS vouchers. 6pm, Garden Room in Shadows Bar, University of Auckland City Campus, free. See the Facebook event page.

Thursday 11 The Muse duo play original instrumentals, 6.30-8pm, Ponsonby Cruising Club, Westhaven Marina with beautiful harbour views. Bar snacks and meals, accessible, parking nearby.

UrzilaCarlson-380x285Friday 12, Saturday 13 Urzila Carlson “Studies have shown 8.30pm, SKYCITY Theatre. Tickets $30/28 + service fee. Part of International Comedy Festival.

Saturday 13 Music Quiz Night with MC singer/actor Anji Kreft. 7.15pm doors open; event starts 7.30pm. Questions, music clips and sing-alongs about popular singers and songs. Grey Lynn Community Centre, 510 Richmond Rd, Grey Lynn. Tables of six; $30 each includes a platter for each table. BYO alcohol, water and juice provided. Bookings to 021 0293 5323 or musicquiz@yahoo.com.

Saturday 13 Mardi Gras Party wraps up the University of Auckland Pride Week, Spot prizes for dress-up. 8pm-late, Shadows Bar, City Campus, free. See the Facebook event page.

Tuesday 16-Sunday 21 Auckland Writers Festival main programme includes international writers Carol Ann Duffy, Stella Duffy, Roxanne Gay, and local writers Ngahuia Te Awekotuku, Friday 19; Gina Cole, Thursday 18 & Friday 19; Courtney Sina Meredith, Friday 19 and interviewer Sunday 21.
All events, including free ones, are ticketed – check the programme. Carol Ann Duffy has two sessions with musician John Sampson (Friday 19 & Saturday 20), a free children’s session, and is judging the Sarah Broom poetry prize (both Sunday 21).

Stella Duffy has four events: ‘Writing Queer’ workshop (Friday 19), a 1-hour interview with the Women’s Bookshop’s Carole Beu (Saturday 20), and 2 free ‘Stella and guests’ events (different guests, 1 each Friday 19 and Saturday 20). Roxane Gay has three events: a panel ‘Women and Power’, Friday 19; a panel ‘The art of the essay’, Saturday 20, free; a 1-hour interview, Sunday 21.

Thursday 18 The Muse duo play original instrumentals, 6.30-8pm, Ponsonby Cruising Club, Westhaven Marina with beautiful harbour views. Bar snacks and meals, accessible, parking nearby.

Saturday 20 Singing for our Lives, a fundraising concert for the Auckland Women’s Centre featuring Hanna Wiskari, Linda Whitcombe, Innes Asher, Elizabeth Bennett, Anna Dunwoodie, Astar, Beverley Young, Anna Percy, Margo Regan, Kay McCabe, Karen Jones, Andrea & Jean Reid, Brenda Liddiard, Louise Evans, Clare Senior, and The Scottish Fiddle Club. 7.30pm, St Davids Church, 202 Hillsborough Rd, Hillsborough. $20. Email organiser Anna Dunwoodie on harpmad@gmail.com; visit Facebook event page.

Sunday 21 Coffee & Stroll 10am, meet for coffee at Dutch Delight, 3-5 Birkenhead Ave, Birkenhead; 10.30am, an easy-ish 40-minute stroll in good company, in Le Roys BushNote, this involves a steeper walk than usual, but is planned to be as easy as possible: the boardwalk is well constructed, and there is plenty of room to stop and watch for birds, fish and plants.

Sunday 21 Fifth Season GLBT garden club visits Auckland University and Old Government House gardens, guided by landscape historian John Adam. Includes afternoon tea at Mojo Café, Auckland Art Gallery. Non-members welcome; meet 2pm, corner of Princes St and Waterloo Quandrant, city. Contact Wendy Wilson, 027 548 3510 or wendyirenewilson@gmail.com

Tuesday 23 LGBTIQ/Rainbow consultation meeting on the New Zealand Suicide Prevention Strategy, all interested people welcome. 6.30-8.30pm, Mental Health Foundation office, units 109-110, Zone 23, 23 Edwin St, Mt Eden. Register at Eventbrite.

The MuseThursday 25 The Muse duo play original instrumentals, 6.30-8pm, Ponsonby Cruising Club, Westhaven Marina with beautiful harbour views. Bar snacks and meals, accessible, parking nearby.

Saturday 27 Silent Gays monthly meetup 10am-12 noon, Mozaik Cafe, 61 Constellation Dr, Rosedale. The regular monthly get together (4th Saturday of the month): a safe space to be yourself, deconstruct your religion, share your deepest secrets and be loved unconditionally. Visit Facebook event page for details.

Sunday 28 Her Sunday Feels / / Eat / Drink / Friends / Music / Dance 3pm-12midnight. Revelry, 106 Ponsonby Rd. A free monthly event: a chilled afternoon-into-evening Sunday session for queer women + friends. Visit Facebook event page to book a table, get details.

Sunday 28 Dykes on mics Open mic night for lesbians – women only space. Garnet Station, 85 Garnet Rd, Westmere. MC’d by Cissy Rock. 7pm start, cafe open earlier. Come along, have a go, be part of the magic . Koha at the door. Pizza/drinks/cake/coffee all available. Visit Facebook event page.

Wednesday 31 Whāriki Takatāpui, public lecture by researcher, activist and artist Elizabeth Kerekere about the Whāriki Takatāpui framework she developed for takatāpui identity, health and well-being in her PhD, with a discussion on how spirituality can be transformative in the fight against homophobia, transphobia and biphobia. Free and open to all, followed by drinks and nibbles. 4pm, University of Auckland, Arts 2, the Cultures, Languages & Linguistics building on the NE corner of Symonds St and Grafton Rd, rm C303 (207-C303).

Waikato/Central North Island/Hawkes Bay

Saturday 6 Pink Drinks 5-7pm, hosted by Hamilton PrideGood George Brewing, 32a Somerset St, Frankton, Hamilton. Pink Drinks is Hamilton’s monthly mix and mingle. Everyone is welcome =) bring your friends! Visit Facebook event page for details.

Wellington/Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Manawatu

Anytime Self-guided LGBTTI walking tour of 24 historic rainbow locations around Wellington’s waterfront in one hour, free. Start at the former site of Carmen’s Balcony on the corner of Harris and Victoria Sts, now the City Library, walk through Civic Square, onto the waterfront, down to Bats Theatre and then back to the Michael Fowler Centre via Courtenay Place. Hear short eyewitness accounts at each location with your smart device using the interactive Google Map, or download the mp3 audio before you set off. See the website.

Tuesday 2-Saturday 6 Urzila Carlson “Studies have shown 8.30pm, Hannah Playhouse, corner Cambridge Tce & Courtenay Pl. Tickets $30/28 + service fee. Part of International Comedy Festival.

Thursday 4 Charlotte Yates solo show 5.30-7.30pm, Thunderbird Cafe, 154 Featherstone St. No charge.

Saturday 6 High tea with Urzila Carlson 2pm, QT Museum Wellington, 90 Cable St, Te Aro. Tickets $79 + service fee. Part of International Comedy Festival.

Sunday 7 Rainbow Walk-Tour: waterfront and inner-city 1-2.30pm, a free circular walk-tour of Wellington’s waterfront and inner city highlighting some of Wellington’s rich rainbow heritage. Meet at City Gallery, 101 Wakefield St. Visit Facebook event page for details.

Saturday 13 Charlotte Yates at Levin library’s Festival of Stories week: 10.30am-12.30pm, songwriting workshop Keep It Simple, Stupid’, Te Takere (Levin Library), Bath St, Levin; 2pm, solo show. Both free but please book.

Sunday 14 Lesbian Overlanders Walk to Mataihaku, Raumati escarpment. Meet at Paekakariki train station for a lift to the start of the track. An hour each way; see the outdoors website. Text Linda on 0274 428 563 if you are coming, and if you can offer a ride from Paekakariki station.

Wednesday 17 IDAHOBiT(International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia) Political Panel 6-7.30pm, Theatrette, Parliament. A panel of community representatives will present on issues and priorities to MPs and party leaders; each party then has the opportunity to respond. Visit Facebook event page for details. [Please note: IDAHOBiT Family Fun Day has been cancelled.]

Thursday 18 Wellington Sexual Abuse HELP Video launch and celebration 6-7.30pm, Southern Cross Garden Bar Restaurant, 39 Abel Smith St, Te Aro. In April, a flash mob gathered to sing for survivors of sexual abuse. This event celebrates the unveiling of 2 exciting, powerful, amazing videos made from that day. Free, kid friendly. Details via Facebook event page.

Thursday 18 Topp Twins Heading for the Hills tour, 8pm, Southward Theatre, Paraparamu.

Saturday 20 THE TOPP TWINS An Exhibition for New Zealand opens: an exciting celebration of the outstanding contribution these inspiring women make to our nation’s social, cultural and political landscape. (Designed to tour the country with expressions of interest already received from additional venues following inaugural Palmerston North season, to 29 October.) Te Manawa Museum, 326 Main St, Palmerston North: 10am-5pm daily (Thursday nights until 7.30pm). $5 adults, free for children under 18. Visit exhibition website for details.

Saturday 20 Topp Twins Heading for the Hills tour, 8pm, Feilding Civic Centre.

Sunday 21 Topp Twins Heading for the Hills tour, 7.30pm, Dannevirke Town Hall.

Tuesday 23 Dashed Hopes? Women’s Position in the NZ Economy, 1994/2017 A talk by Prue Hyman based on her new book Hopes Dashed? The Economics of Gender Inequality, about changes over the last 23 years. Progress in education and the range of jobs, and hiccups due to minuscule gains in the pay gap, lower unionisation, and undervaluation of women’s paid and unpaid work. 5.30 – 6.45pm, Te Ahumairangi, ground fl, National Library, corner Aitken and Molesworth Sts, Thorndon. RSVP to events.natlib@dia.govt.nz with Dashed Hopes? in the subject line.

Nelson area/Whakatū

The Lesbian Connection (TLC) sends a monthly email of events in the area, Nelson and Motueka in particular. Contact tlconnection.link@gmail.com to go on the mailing list or for more details of any events.

There’s currently no-one co-ordinating activities for Nelson events, other than potluck dinners, last Friday of the month. Walking group is still happening now and then; keep an eye on Facebook for details. Do contact TLC if you can help with regular – or one-off – events.

Sunday 14 Walk and brunch, Motueka. Meet at 10.15am at the Community Gardens for a 30 minute walk to TOAD Hall, Lower High St, for brunch at 11am, then back along the inlet. A table has been booked for 15 women, but as it’s Mothers’ Day it’s first in, first served; extras may be able to squeeze in.

Friday 26 Pot luck dinner, Motueka. Bring something yummy to share, from 7pm. Text Mary on 027 320 7393.

Christchurch/Ōtautahi, Canterbury/Waitaha and West Coast/Te Tai Hauāuru

The Christchurch Women’s Centre keeps a diary of events in Christchurch and elsewhere on their Lesbian Support page. Check events on the  Christchurch LGBT social events page.

The Lambda Trampers and Lambda Lattes are mixed social tramping and walking groups for lesbians and gays living in and around Christchurch, and their friends. The Lambda Trampers programme and contact details to August 2017 are available. Lambda Latte programme details are below.

Free MP3 by singer/Songwriter Lisa Tui, celebrating the launch of her website with digital copies of her song I Wonder On You. Listen to her new single Comin’ on Home, released to commemorate six years after the quakes. Hear her sing on her Facebook page.
Sunday 7 Switched on Coffee Group welcomes women at 11am at Under the Red Verandah. Text Jayne on 027 366 9189.

Sunday 21 Lambda Lattes walk from Bridge St north towards New Brighton. This is a flat walk, and we get to see some of the wetland areas and the wildlife associated with it. Meeting by 10am at Bridge Street, New Brighton, on the eastern end of the bridge. Contact Alan on 383 9222.

Wednesday 24 Rainbow Networking Canterbury 5.30-7pm, Thai Chef’s Restaurant, 1 Riccarton Rd. $10 cash at the door to cover cost of nibbles. Cash bar. Everyone is welcome: business owner, professional, community support group people, individuals. Visit Facebook event page for details.

Thursday 25 Naked Girls Reading – the feminist propaganda edition 7-10pm, XCHC, 376 Wilsons Rd, Waltham. Tickets $20 Eventfinda, $25 on the door.

Otago/Southland/Te taurapa o te waka

Haratua / May

Sunday 7 Wild Women Walk for ~90m in the Waitati area. For a prompt 10am start, meet by the Waitati Art Gallery, opposite the Blueskin Garden Centre.  Finish with coffee at the Blueskin Cafe. Text Ann by noon on Saturday if you are coming – 022 133 9529, or email acharlotte10@gmail.com if you need a ride.

Friday 12 & Saturday 13 Stella Duffy at the Dunedin Writers Readers Festival (website and Facebook page). Friday 12, 9.30am-12.30pm, Regent theatre, workshop: ‘Getting Going, Getting Done‘. $50 + service fee.

Friday 12, 6pm, drinks and nibbles, 6.30–8pm, Gala Showcase: “Metamorphosis”, Toitu Otago Settlers Museum. One of 6 international and national authors speaking. $39 includes welcome drink and nibbles.

Saturday 13, 10.15-11.15am, interview at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, $22/$18/$12 + service fee.

Wednesday 17 SPACE Seminar on the Rainbow Tick with Gareth Treharne, a lecturer in the Department of Psychology at the University of Otago, whose students have studied the impacts of discrimination on queer people. The Q&A format will enable participants to talk about what they think could be done to make the university more inclusive for queer staff and students. 12pm, room 5, OUSA Clubs & Societies, University of Otago campus.

Sunday 28 Wild Women Walk from Aramoana spit to mole and beach. Meet 9.30am at Port Royale for coffee (bottom of George St, Pt Chalmers) and car share from there at 10am. Email acharlotte10@gmail.com or text 022 133 9529 to confirm.

Wednesday 31 Rainbow Dunedin potluck 5.30-7.30pm, Dunedin Fringe Festival, 26 Princes St, central Dunedin. Visit Facebook event page for details.

Overseas/Rāwāhi

May 23-28 ‘I did it my way, in Yiddish (in English) Deb Filler, Factory Theatre, Toronto, Canada. Bookings via venue website.

May 26-28 Cinema Systers Film Festival celebrating lesbian filmakers. Visit Facebook page or website for details.

WorldOG2017Miami logoMay 26–June 4 World OutGames, Miami Beach, USA, 10-day event featuring more than 40 events across three areas: Sports, Culture and Human Rights. See www.OutGames.org or Facebook page, or email ivan@worldoutgames2017.com.

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

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