Hui-tanguru / February

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Dyke Diary

Ngā pitopito kōrero, News

Three cities celebrate Pride

Kiwis for refugees
Reviving Veiqia
Getting out of sex work safely
Short fiction prize to Auckland

Three cities celebrate Pride

Pride festivals in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch will bring lesbians and queer people, their allies and politicians of all stripes flocking to queer events this summer. We preview the Auckland Pride Festival in February, and the Wellington Pride Festival and Christchurch Pride Week in March.

Auckland Pride Festival

Kiana Rivera PuzzyThe festival runs from Friday February 5 to Sunday 21 and this year is particularly strong in women’s performance and sport, due to the associated Proud to Play festival. Performance events include Puzzy, left (photo by Ane Tonga), a ground-breaking Pacific lesbian play; queer women writers and directors in the Legacy 3 plays; the massed choir performance at the Out & Loud Choir Festival; queer and takatāpui film series; Dykes on Mikes and comedy due Cissy Rock and Ann Speir’s A twist of lesbian at Garnet Station’s tiny theatre; the Decolonise Pride Poetry Slam organised by Whaitiri Mikaere aka Diesel Dyke Poet (see below); and multiple Nights of the Queer at TAPAC, among many others.

Free events include the iconic Big Gay Out at Pt Chevalier, the Bride Moana Nui Pacific picnic and EquAsian’s beach welcome; the Woof Pride Dog Show; The launch, discussion and screening of Thin edge of the wedge: Homosexual law reform in NZ, Fiona Clark’s photography exhibition, and other festival events at Artspace; writing events Review Review, Poetry meets Pride, and the Pride Writing Seminar; as well as Rainbow Youth’s Queer [Hair] Cuts and Interfaith panel.

Pride LickParties include Lick, for girls who love girls, and the Pride Party with a WomenZone and Sydney singer-songwriter Mary Kiani. Two promised events – the usual Pride Gala showcasing segments of many festival shows, and a human rights gathering – haven’t eventuated, and women’s music and visual arts offerings are thin compared with previous festivals.


National Decolonise Pride Poetry Slam

Aotearoa/New Zealand’s first LGBTQIAP poetry slam is both a cultural and political event in the Auckland Pride Festival calendar.

DPPS fullCreator and organiser Whaitiri M Mikaere, also known as Diesel Dyke Poet, has won first place titles for NZ Poetry Idol 2015, Matariki Poet 2012 and 2010. An activist for over 30 years, she is a member of Tamaki Makaurau’s Lesbians of Colour community 1984 – present, Te Ha Ki Tamaki Maori Writers Collective, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific.

Whaitiri says the event was conceived in part as a response to the general neoliberalisation and corporatisation of LGBT events nationally and internationally, and more specifically to the pinkwashing that allowed the Israeli embassy float to participate in the 2014 Auckland Pride parade, and the violence toward the No Pride In Prisons protestors in 2015.

The parade is the jewel in the crown of Auckland Pride events, says Whaitiri Mikaere (whose poetry slam persona is Diesel Dyke), and in the Hero days was actually an act of protest itself.

Putting “ethics and integrity back in to Pride” isn’t a radical idea really, she says. It is “taking Pride back to the community” and respecting those who have been part of earlier struggles – those who have already gone, as well as those still here.

So here is a vehicle for LGBTQIAP voices to freely express the issues that pertain to them and to the theme. There will be celebration of who we are, challenges to what we think and do: “one unifying voice, with many tones”, says Whaitiri.

The Pride Poetry Slam Title is up for grabs, with prizes for first, second and third places. The adjudicating will be done by a panel of three judges from the community. The event will also feature a guest poet, guest musician, and performances by Diesel Dyke Poet, the MC for the night.

At this stage, the slam has seven qualified finalists, although auditions are still open if you are keen. It’s a national event held on Wednesday 17, from 7-10.30pm at the Thirsty Dog Tavern, 469 Karangahape Rd, Newton, with participants from around the country.

This is a grassroots, self funded event. GABA refused financial support on the grounds there were other literary Pride events they had funded this year. However, poetry slam is more than a literary event or a reserved poetry reading. It is passionate and interactive performance poetry! So please come celebrate and support more diverse rainbow voices!

See the Facebook event page.

Proud to Play

For the first time, the Proud to Play festival brings to Pride lots of queer sport to watch or take part in. PtP opens on Saturday 13 at Silo Park with a mihi whakatau, a brief welcome from Ngati Whatua from 3pm, amidst the usual Silo market.

ProudToPlayLoriLindseyAfter the mihi, participants will parade by country, with Aotearoa last. International ‎lesbian soccer star Lori Lindsey, left, a Proud to Play Sports Ambassador, will lead the march and reply on behalf of guests. The event will be MCd by Steven Oates; Louisa Wall and Len Brown will welcome sportspeople, and GALS will sing the national anthem.

Athletes can register after the opening ceremony at the neighbouring North Park bar, or at a stall at the Big Gay Out at Pt Chevalier the next day. Badminton, bridge, dancesport, tenpin bowling, pool swimming and roller derby will be played in the Trust Arena in Henderson or other West Auckland locations. Dragon boating, touch rugby, volleyball, ocean swimming and the road run will be held at other venues. Netball, lawn bowls, golf and tennis were also on the list but did not receive enough registrations and have been cancelled.

Organiser Craig Watson says there are more than 500 athletes registered, roughly half women, including 80 roller derby skaters, 60 touch rugby players and around 70 pool swimmers. Every sport except roller derby is free for watchers.

Pride BattleOBT logoBattle on the Bent Track, Australasia’s only queer roller derby tournament, will be held for the first time in Auckland as a two-day Proud to Play event. Hosted by queer national team Vagine Regime Aoetaroa, it pits queer female teams from around Australia in intense, full-contact, 40-minute games all day on Saturday 13 at the Trusts Arena in Henderson. Semi-finals and the final will be 60-minute games on Sunday 14, including one between NZ Men’s Roller Derby and BoBT’s best.

Roller derby is the only Proud to Play sport to charge audiences. Children are free, and prices for adults go up to $30 for a full weekend pass; all proceeds will go to Wellington-based InsideOUT, a national LGBTT youth organisation. See the website and get tickets here.

Proud to Play also includes the Stand OUT youth hui at the Auckland Museum on Monday 15, which will be attended by Lori and gay Kiwi Olympic speed skater Blake Skjellerup. Proud to Play welcomes all athletes and supporters to march behind the PtP banner in the Pride Parade, and promote their sports clubs.

Auckland Pride Parade

MidPrideSkaterThe parade has returned to the earlier start time of 6pm, so that most of it will happen in daylight, and it has changed direction from last year. It will start at the Three Lamps end of Ponsonby Rd and finish at Western Park, with a few floats left by the park pumping out music.

The official support of organisations for staff involvement in past parades has been seen as an indicator of an organisation’s stance towards LGBTT staff and issues. However, the official participation of state agencies such as the Department of Corrections, the Police and the Israeli government, has remained contentious. At the time of writing, the participation of the Department of Corrections, whose policies discriminate against trans people, was undecided. The issue, which was the subject of No Pride in Prisons’ protest at the 2015 parade, was still being discussed at the end of January.

Dykes on Bikes Parade 220214 Image by Wendy CunninghamHowever, police will again be marching in uniform, despite recent admissions of bias against Maori in the force, and evidence that Police target Māori twice as much as non-Māori for the same offending. In response to concerns raised at two community meetings late last year, the Pride Festival board developed criteria for organisations wanting to participate in the parade, but they were not distributed to the community before the deadline for parade registrations. It is unclear whether the Pride board’s policy applies to companies that, for example, offer all employees ‘zero-hour’ [no guaranteed hours] contracts, an issue raised in 2015 protests and community meetings.

See the parade webpage, Pride events on the website or the Facebook page.

Waikato in the Parade

Waikato lesbians and rainbow people are invited to march under the banner of Hamilton Pride in the Parade. They’re encouraged to wear any combination of the Waikato Mooloo colours – red, yellow and black – in an amazing costume. They can email for tickets for the bus, or find their own way and gather at 4pm outside the ASB Bank on the corner of Ponsonby Rd and College Hill. See the event Facebook page.

Wellington Pride Festival/Tū whakahīhī e Te Whanganui-a-Tara

Wtn PrideFestival imageThe programme for the Wellington Pride Festival/ Tū whakahīhī e Te Whanganui-a-Tara will be launched on Friday February 5 at Ivy Bar in the city from 8pm. The festival starts with an opening ceremony at Parliament on Saturday March 5 and runs to Sunday 13. Festival events will be held at a range of city venues, and most will be free.

On Saturday March 12, the Love Parade dances in the streets from Frank Kitts Park to Waitangi Park, where the city’s iconic fair, Out in the Park, will run all day. The parade encourages participants to wear 80s gear as the festival is celebrating the 30th anniversary of Homosexual Law Reform and of the first Gay and Lesbian Fair in the city. That night, the after-party, Lust, will be held in Club Ivy and James Smith Basement in Cuba St.

See the website or the Facebook page.

Human rights conference

Proud Conference ImageOceania representatives of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) and Wellington activists have formed Proud to host the first ILGA Oceania Human Rights and Health Conference/ Tāwhiritia ngā ahi o Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa e mātou on March 9 to 11.

The welcome at Wharewaka Marae on Wednesday 9 will also launch Wellington Pride Homosexual Law Reform Anniversary events, and will include performances by the Glamophones choir and kapa haka by Wellington takatāpui group Tiwhanwhana.

The event aims to “re-ignite the fires of the LGBTI community” on human rights and health in Papua New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific, Melanesia and the Micronesian Islands. Women’s youth and trans gatherings will be held before the conference and their input will feed into conference discussions.

Proud logoWorkshop topics include young lesbians, historical lesbian activism, high femme, bisexuality, queer-friendly schools, LGBTI refugees, indigenous wellbeing, Out@Work, violence, and working with LGBTI health professionals among many others. ILGA Executive Director Renato Sabbadini will speak and members of the ILGA Trans secretariat will participate.

See the Proud website, the Proud Facebook page, and the event page.

Christchurch Pride week

ChristchPrideThe week runs from Friday March 18 to Saturday 26, and includes art exhibitions, talks, bingo, a Women’s Star Show Party and a Sleaze party, a Fantasy Ball, a Queer Fair and a Pride Walk.

See the website or the Facebook page.

Jenny Rankine

Kiwis for refugees

Kiwis on Board logoAn experience on the Greek island of Kos in September last year led Auckland-based partners Felicity Morgan-Rhind and Arani Cuthbert, long-time manager of the Topp Twins, to start an organisation enabling New Zealanders to welcome and support refugees.

“It was the height of summer and stifling hot,” says Felicity. “As we drove into the port of Kos, thousands of refugees lined the beach and the roadside. The beach was awash with deflated dinghies, abandoned life jackets and listless refugees.  Small pup tents were erected on the roadside with the young and old lying without shade in the 40 degree heat.”

Kiwis on Board Kos“And in the midst of all this, tourists wandered around eating ice creams in their g-strings. It was an unbelievably contradictory experience.” The refugees had survived the war in Syria, walked from there to Turkey and taken the hazardous trip in overloaded dinghies from Turkey to Kos. As the couple left for Athens on their ocean liner “those left behind stood silently, grimly, watching us leave. It was one of those ‘I’m never going to forget this’ moments,” Felicity says.

KoB concertWhen they returned, Cuthbert’s agency Diva Productions made four short videos of 11 Kiwi refugee families, showing the ways they contribute to the country. Then their new group, Kiwis on Board, organised a fundraising concert in Auckland in January, with the Topp Twins and Neil Finn heading a large performer line-up.

Kiwis on Board urges people to contact their MPs demanding that the government double the country’s refugee quota, an issue it will discuss in March. They have raised $1,600 towards an ambitious $30,000 target towards refugee resettlement in Aotearoa.

Donate at their Givealittle page, see their Facebook page for updates, and see their films here.


Reviving Veiqia

Veiqia projectAuckland-based lesbian artist Luisa Tora, right, is one of five Fijian women artists in the Veiqia Project, which will result in an exhibition inspired by the practice of Fijian female tattooing. The contemporary Fijian artists and two curators in Australia and New Zealand are sharing research and museum visits to develop new artwork.

The practice of Veiqia, a traditional Fijian female tattoo received by young women at puberty, has been lost due to missionary influence and other colonisation. This project is the first contemporary art study of the tradition.

Luisa joins fellow Aucklander Joana Monolagi, Waikato-based Margaret Aull, Donita Hulme from Sydney, and Dulcie Stewart of Brisbane. The curators are Tarisi Sorovi-Vunidilo and Ema Tavola. Sangeeta Singh, a regular collaborator with Luisa, is the project photographer.

Veiqia proj Fiji open day with FNU volunteersThe project team spent a fortnight in Suva in September 2015 undertaking research at the Fiji Museum, National Archives of Fiji, and Fijian Institute of Culture and Language. They held a panel discussion at the Fiji National University (they are pictured here with FNU volunteers), an open day at the Fiji Museum, and meetings with a range of artists, tattooists, academics, and linguists.

Using a shared online research forum and time spent with other Fijian collections at museums in Australia and New Zealand, the artists will each generate an indigenous research archive driven by personal, artistic and relational connections. The project exhibition in Auckland, at St Paul St Gallery 3 off Symonds St from March 15 to 26, will be part of the Auckland Arts Festival, and coincide with the Pacific Arts Association XII International Symposium.

The project is supported by the Auckland Museum, the Fiji Museum, the Fijian Art Project documenting UK collections, Creative New Zealand, practitioners, supporters, friends and family on and offline.

Photos: Sangeeta Singh, with permission from Auckland Museum

Getting out of sex work safely

rosalielogoA former sex-worker is fundraising to establish a national safe house in Wellington to help sex workers leave the prostitution industry, in which many lesbians work.

Rosalie Batchelor and others are fundraising to establish Rosalie’s Haven, to provide the support that sex workers need to get out of the job. Many of the estimated 2,000-plus female sex workers are trapped in the work by homelessness, lack of other skills or income, childhood sexual abuse. In their work, they endure extremely high rates of harassment, rape and abuse from clients and pimps.

Sex workers usually have to move town to start another life, so the Wellington house expects to cater for sex workers from all over the country. It plans to holistically combine a safe place with financial, welfare, employment, health, addiction recovery, childcare and legal support, provided through ongoing, one-to-one relationships.

See the website, donate here or read more here.


Short fiction prize to Auckland

LNA member and Auckland student and artist, Jade du Preez, has won this year’s Wallace Arts Trust Short Fiction Prize for her short story ‘Lily of the Valley’, responding to the theme of ‘A Kiwi Romance’.

Jade participates in the Same Same But Different writers festival in Pride: she will read her winning short story, and be part of a panel of new and established writers. ‘Lily of the Valley’ will also be published in an upcoming issue of GayNZ.

Congratulations from the rest of the LNA team!

Ngā Tangata, People

Hawaiian-based director, actor and student Kiki has written her first play, Puzzy, to “show that Pacific lesbians do exist”. She hopes to be in Auckland for the premiere during the Pride Festival.

Kiana Rivera4Kiki has a Samoan father and Filipina mother, and grew up religious in a small town on Oahu. She came out while she studied theatre at the University of Hawaii, and identifies as lesbian. “I was still very active in church, so the theatre was my outlet. It was very much like having two people in my body – it was a double life. My friends at college knew a completely different person.”

“A lot of church activities were held on campus, so I was constantly watching my back everywhere I went.” To cope she “did drinking and destroying myself in that way. It wasn’t until two or three years after I graduated that I came out to my mum over the phone. It went pretty well.”

“Things started getting better and I started living more honestly. I got more help and established my support systems. It’s been an ongoing healing process, getting more comfortable with myself and this play has a lot to do with that.”

Kiki lives in Honolulu, and is studying full-time for a Masters of Fine Arts in Directing. She has directed a few plays but is better known for her acting, including roles in two plays by New Zealand-based Samoan writers, Frangipani Perfume by Makerita Urale, and My Name is Gary Cooper by Victor Rodger.

However, “acting doesn’t pay the bills”, so Kiki works part-time managing a food distribution programme for a service supporting people with HIV. “I try to do a bunch of different things keeps me interested – I get bored quickly,” she says.

Kiana Rivera castInspired by Kiki’s own life, Puzzy is a play about a Samoan Jehovah’s Witness called Mele. Members of the cast are shown at a read-through. The play follows Mele’s encounters a wide range of characters from her disapproving Elder John to her straight best friend Tina Turner, and ultimately her first true love.

Kiki co-wrote the play with Victor Rodger, who she met while he was in Hawai’i on a Fullbright scholarship. “Victor has been looking for a Pacific lesbian voice in theatre – I told him I wanted to try writing and he strongly encouraged me.”

“The writing process has been very collaborative.  It just goes back and forth. It’s really fun.”

Early excerpts from the play received a warm welcome in Auckland in November and December at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. When I rang Kiki in early January, they had finalised 20 minutes of script and were aiming for an hour, so they have both had an intense month of writing.

Kiki says that many Pacific theatre artists dream of going to New York, “but it’s always been my dream to go to Aotearoa. To me it’s the Broadway of the Pacific!”

Kiana Rivera3Kiki says LGBT are intermingled in Honolulu – “we don’t have a dedicated lesbian bar. There’s a small group of Samoan, Tongan, Hawaiian and other Pacific lesbians. I didn’t know until someone told me they were – they don’t speak out on it here as much, it’s just part of their lives.”

“We have a lot of family and church ties, so you live your life without really mentioning sexual identity. It’s part of our cultures to put other people first, before ourselves.” Being without a voice, she says, means that “a lot of issues, like sexual abuse in families, get ignored.”

“Pacific women are very powerful people, very strong – if we use that strength towards speaking up and empowering each other, then we don’t have to use it for holding things in, coping with a lot of pain. I see a lot more people coming out since they passed the same-sex marriage bill.”

Kiki looks forward to meeting “lots of Samoan and other Pacific lesbians in February. It really is an honour to be representing so many people, it’s very humbling. My greatest fear is that I misrepresent us. I hope they can relate to my experience and feel like they’re not alone. Growing up in that environment I felt like the only person struggling with these identity issues. A lot of my work I do for other people so they don’t have the same isolation.”

You can still contribute to the crowd funding for the play – Kiki is on the way to raise $3,000 towards her trip to Auckland and the play’s Hawai’i premiere. Puzzy plays at the Basement Theatre in Auckland city from February 9 to 13.

Jenny Rankine

Te ao pāpāho, Media

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

Auckward Love web series
Charlotte Pride and White Night events
Women’s comics collection
Paekakariki feast
Darlinghissima – Loving long-distance for 38 years

Mixed reaction to Auckward Love

Auckward LoveAuckward Love is a new comedy web series set (somewhat obviously) in Auckland, Aotearoa. Created by Holly Shervey and co-written by lesbian Jess Sayer, right, and Emmett Skilton, the series follows the (mis-)adventures of newly single Alice (Shervey, in pink) as she searches for true love with the ‘help’ of dating app Tinder and her three best friends: hard drinking and straight talking Vicky (Luci Hare, second from left), hippy trippy Grace (Jess Holly Bates, left), and prolifically ‘lady-loving’ Zoe (Sayer).

While Zoe is an out and proud lesbian, Auckward Love is NOT a lesbian web series. It is, however, one of the most intense hate / love relationships of my web-viewing life: on first viewing I really hated it, but now I’m kind of in love with it.

Perhaps it was because my expectations were misoriented as a result of having previously watched so many lesbian-centric web series. Perhaps it was because I was in a really crappy mood. Definitely it was because I misread a perfectly clear plot synopsis. Whatever the reasons, I quickly found myself aghast at the abundant (if not always exuberant) heterosexuality of Auckward Love.

I like to think of myself as a tolerant and inclusive type (some of my best friends and all of my parents are straight) but by the time I noticed a doodle penis floating through my peripheral vision during the closing credits I had developed a twitch in my left eye and was in a full-blown heterosexist panic attack.

Viewed through this jaded, hostile, and twitchy lens the character of Zoe struck me unpleasantly as yet another token lesbian trapped in the tired old trope of the Shane-esque gay girl Lothario. Heavy-handed muffin jokes, the (one time) use of the word gay as a pejorative, and a seeming homosexual panic scene left me feeling distinctly Not Amused. The depiction of modern dating practices left me feeling Very Old. Auckward Love, it appeared, was not for me… if not entirely unforgivable.

Auckward Love2But it is a Kiwi production substantially created by women, with four female leads. I felt this earned it a second chance. So I resuscitated my mood, dug my sense of humour out from under a pile of indignation, and put on my (twitch-resistant) mainstream TV viewing eyes; and thus it was I found my way to love, completely unaided by Tinder.

Featuring a slew of cameos from Almighty Johnsons and Shortland Street, Auckward Love is slickly produced and beautifully, inventively shot. At times the script, along with directorial and musical choices, genuinely made me laugh out loud. Like many debut web series the show struggles a bit to maintain a consistent tone from across episodes, but on the whole it succeeds more than it fails.

The eighth and final episode is like a master class in quirky, inherently gentle and distinctly Kiwi humour. Most importantly, the acting of the four leads is spot on, and their chemistry and rapport with each other is a real treat. Not so surprisingly in a comedy, all four of these characters undeniably draw on broad stereotypes, but the actors imbue them with enough edge and charm to make me care what happens to them next.

So embracing it for what it is, I look forward to the second season of Auckward Love.

All first season episodes are available on YouTube, and from February 1 on TVNZ OnDemand.

Barbara Bennett

Pride of our love and White Night

Charlotte labrysesThe Charlotte Museum’s contribution to the Auckland Pride Festival is a multimedia exhibition of artworks about the Pride of our love and desire, which opens on Sunday February 7 at 2pm. Artists include Fran Marno, Beth Hudson, Maureen Jaggard, Dons Savage, Thierry Weerts and Miriam Saphira.

The exhbition runs until Saturday March 12, when the museum will be open from 6pm to midnight for White Night, along with many other museums and art galleries around the city as part of a free Auckland Arts Festival event.

Nadia Gush, the museum’s Director for much of 2015, finished her contract in January and wrote a farewell blog about community participation in the museum.

The museum is open Wednesday and Sunday afternoons; see the website or Facebook page. Otherwise, text 021 157 3304 or email


Three words and lots of comics

Three words comicsWatch out for the publication of this anthology of comics by 64 New Zealand women, including several by lesbians, in March. Pre-orders are $45 and include a one-off zine.

Three words: An anthology of Aotearoa/NZ women’s comics, is edited by Rae Joyce, Sarah Laing and Indira Neville and includes essays by Miriam Saphira, Robyn Kenealy, Rae Joyce, Ruth Boyask and Jem Yoshioka. Cartoons have been gathered from zines and magazines, Tumblr, Twitter, shoe boxes, art galleries, old tea trays and brochures. It is published by Beatnik Publishing.

Paekakariki feast

large_midnight_feastMidnight Feast is a well-named treat from the Kapiti Lesbian Writing Group, and a delicious follow-up to Out to Lunch (2010).

Once again we have a mixed collection of writing from the group: poetry, short stories and excerpts from longer works.

New member Barbara Simmons and regular Kate Torrens are the poets. Both offer a selection of work that is quite different, but that feels intensely personal, to person, identity and place. Kate also has an excerpt from a novel: set in the 1980s, Julia lives with her husband and mother-in-law, but is more interested in the woman next door …

Terry Kennaway’s short pieces are reflective stories told in the voices of a number of women. Usually, but not always, the narrator is lesbian. Usually when she’s not, she’s less pleasant – which is how it should be, I feel. Sometimes wry, sometimes funny, sometimes a little disturbing, they are all a good read.

Annabel Fagan’s stories vary in length, in subject, in time and location. There is an undercurrent of darkness in many of them that can disturb as well as entertain.

Robin Fleming’s contribution is a long piece from a novel to be e-published. It reads like a memoir – although not necessarily Robin’s autobiographically: a young woman finding herself while travelling across Europe with other young people. Finding she’s more interested in women than men, amongst other discoveries.

Pat Rosier’s contribution is posthumous – pieces of the latest novel she was working on at the time of her unexpected death in 2014. It’s a futuristic novel, some of it set in 2022, some in the early 2000s, in a social and political world very different from ours now. Or is it? This part of Midnight Feast is the hardest to read, not just because of the loss of Pat, but also because there is enough there to get you really engaged with Alice Green, academic and researcher, getting into political trouble now because of … quite what is not yet clear. Pat’s partner Prue Hyman says this was going to be Pat’s best novel yet, and it’s clear this is so.

And once again, the authors share recipes as well as ideas. This book is a feast for many senses.


Thirty-eight years of long distance love

Darlinghissima: Letters to a Friend

Darlinghissima coverBy Janet Flanner; edited and with commentary by Natalia Danesi Murray; originally published in 1985, 507 pages

Reviewed by Lisa Williams

If you ever leaf through a copy of The New Yorker, take a moment to savour the fact that a lesbian invented its inimitable writing style. Janet Flanner [aka ‘Genêt’] penned her inaugural Letter from Paris in 1925, and kept it up for the next five decades, along the way becoming the inventor of ‘essay-journalism’ as a New Yorker tradition as well as “the supreme commander of the English sentence in her time,” according to literary critic Edmund Wilson.

Janet FlannerEscaping a brief and disappointing marriage, Janet, left, arrived in the City of Love with Solita Solano at age 30 in 1922. Immediately she exhibited a flair for being in the right place at the right time, a talent that only abandoned her at her death in 1978. She bonded with Ernest Hemingway over shared stories of their fathers’ suicides. She knew the intricacies of Gertrude Stein’s laugh1 reported Josephine Baker’s debut, browsed the shelves of Shakespeare and Co., and hung out with Djuna Barnes as well as with the rest of the Sapphic crowd then crowding the Left Bank.

Paris was Janet’s home for 50 years. She left it only to avoid the Second World War and to die, both times taking up residence in Manhattan. During the initial hiatus in 1940 she met the Italian Natalia Danesi Murray with whom she maintained a long-distance relationship dotted with flurries of togetherness in places such as Rome, New York, Paris, Lisbon, Milan, Capri and Mexico.2 Natalia periodically raged over their separations but, lucky for us, treasured the correspondence. Darlinghissima: Letters to a Friend records their “passionate friendship”, with a side order of world events thrown in, told through Janet’s letters and Natalia’s commentary.

Falling in love with a bang

Janet F & Natalia 1949Natalia, left, and Janet at an outdoor café in Italy in 1949. Natalia was 47 and Janet 57.

Given the fireworks that flared during their many years together, it’s fitting they fell in love over a Fourth of July weekend on Fire Island, the queer hideout off Long Island. Janet was 48, Natalia 38.

Natalia rented a cottage in Cherry Grove, a hamlet with a few houses stuck up on stilts and no roads, electricity or running water. The perfect haven in the days when the closet remained resolutely padlocked. Natalia’s son, William Murray, writes about their encounter in his memoir Janet, My Mother and Me:

Some of the party had gone dancing that night, up at Duffy’s, the ramshackle hotel that was the community’s social center. It served food and had a bar with a dance floor and a jukebox. My mother and Janet had danced together, had drunk a lot, had toasted their hatred of dictators together, and had fallen in love. My mother was to describe this . . . as a coup de foudre, a thunderbolt that had instantly sent them rushing into each other’s arms and forever altered their lives, as well as mine. (pp. 24-25)

Fireworks indeed. At 83, the memory had not dimmed. Janet writes to Natalia:

I found in my papers a Kodak picture of you in a white long skirt on the back porch of the Fire Island house. It must have been taken by me, I suppose, in the first week of our new love for each other. How we burned and so publicly. I could report on each motion of our bodies. I recall them all so vividly. Poor John [Janet’s host for the weekend] so choked at the waste of oil in the lamp that I let burn all night when we lay awake. (Darlinghissima, p. 486)

The war years – Stateside
Soon after their Fire Island meeting, Janet moved into Natalia’s house in Manhattan. They co-habited upstairs while downstairs housed a teenaged William and Mammina Ester, Natalia’s mother, a feminist and journalist on the run from Mussolini’s Fascists. During the next four years “we shared our lives, our hopes and the war drama,” says Natalia. They also shared terrific charisma. William writes:

You wanted to be around them, because they were brilliant, funny talkers, and because they just exuded an aura of glamour and intellectual curiosity that made them fascinating to be around. . (Letter from Del Mar, p. 1)

Natalia MurrayNatalia Danesi Murray broadcast to Fascist Italy for NBC from Manhattan during the war.

Natalia spent her days at Rockefeller Center, working for NBC International as chief of their Italian division. She wrote, directed and presented programmes delivered to Italy via shortwave radio that brought news and encouragement to ordinary Italians opposed to the government. In every broadcast she employed the same strategy: talking “directly and personally” to her listeners, never identifying Italians with Fascism and never belittling the Italian army; she celebrated their defeats as evidence they really didn’t want to fight alongside the Germans. (See Movie and Radio Guide – 10/30/1942)

One of Janet’s significant New Yorker wartime pieces, The Escape of Mrs. Jeffries, remains timely today for its focus on refugees fleeing war; it also showcases the attention Janet paid throughout her career to the experiences of women. The article details in her characteristically witty style how an old friend from Paris, Mary Reynolds, made her way to the States after belatedly deciding not to sit out the conflict under the persistent gaze of the Gestapo.3

The end of the war – Natalia and Janet head overseas

Janet F & ErnestJanet and Ernest Hemingway reviewing a manuscript at the end of the war. Both served as war correspondents. They had been friends since the early 1920s when both lived in Paris.

Janet and Natalia pined for Europe, Natalia desperate to discover the fate of her two sisters living in Rome, Janet eager to get to Paris. Natalia was the first to go, commissioned as a captain in the Office of War Information (OWI) in May 1944. She left behind a lovesick Janet who wrote to her in June, “the worst thing about the absence of a dear one is that it continues . . . .” Janet flew to London in October, a war correspondent with a commission as a major in the US Army.

Natalia offers an account of the destruction she found in Italy – the “bombed-out ruins, disemboweled homes” – and her joy at finding Rome intact and her sisters alive. In subsequent months she performed her official duties as director of the OWI press bureau in Rome as well as her unofficial ones: feeding starving Italians and providing for war orphans. Soon she had Mammina Ester and the ladies of the Italian Welfare League shipping over medicines and supplies from the States through Natalia’s Vatican contacts.

Meanwhile, Janet reached Paris. Like Rome, it had escaped physical destruction, but she found its people dispirited:

The few French friends I have seen are all completely deteriorated by the war and inflation of money which the Germans scientifically constructed as part of the ruin of the country. (Darlinghissima, pp. 36-37)

On a personal note, Janet’s old mate Ernest Hemingway had dobbed her in to her pre-war lover, Noël Murphy, who had remained behind in France, letting slip there was “an Italian woman” on the scene. In Darlinghissima, Natalia refers to Noël simply as Janet’s “dear old friend” but her son is more forthcoming in his memoir. He asserts Janet didn’t have the courage to break it off, offering as evidence a quote from her unpublished letter to Solita Solano: “What a coward I am, but how can I deliver that blow which she so obviously cowers [at] in order not to receive?”

Janet F in uniformIntermittently cowardly in her private life yet ferocious in her reporting. Janet entered Buchenwald the second day after its liberation in April 1945. “A horrible shock” she writes Natalia and declares that “the news from the concentration camps seemed to me the most important news of all the years of war.” The deep impression the camp survivors, especially the women, make on her reveals itself in her New Yorker dispatches from that spring. They turn up in her Letters from Paris, part of the street life she observes and documents:

The next day, the first contingent of women prisoners arrived by train bringing with them as very nearly their only baggage the proofs, on their faces and their bodies and in their weakly spoken reports, of the atrocities that had been their lot and the lot of hundreds of thousands of others in the numerous concentration camps our armies are liberating, almost too late. (The New Yorker, April 28, 1945, pp. 43-44.)4

By the time she writes those words, she and Natalia have been apart nearly a year, hindered from meeting by war and military red tape. Janet writes:

Cherubino, help me; go see General MacChrystal if you know him, or at any rate, for Christ’s sake, know the truth—that I am going mad with effort, to see you. (Darlinghissima, p. 53)

Their reunion “on a golden Roman summer day” at the end of June lives up to the romantic tenor of the book. Natalia writes:

It had been a long time since we had seen each other, and we were overwhelmed by the intensity of our emotions. Here we were, two serious women, behaving like schoolgirls, giggling and chattering, with tears of joy streaming down our cheeks, in each other’s arms. (Darlinghissima, p. 55)

Going their separate ways together

After the war, Darlinghissima continues through the decades, devoting a chapter to each. Natalia migrates back and forth between Rome and New York before settling permanently in the Big Apple as head of the American branch of the Italian publishing house, Mondadori. Later, she assumes a similar role for Rizzoli.

Janet, despite repeated promises to shift to the States, fails to do so. Her work is her primary passion, and she wishes to pursue it in no other place than Paris. The plain truth is that she prefers her freedom living in hotels with few possessions beyond her typewriter and reference books. William Murray suggests another reason Janet chose to remain abroad might be attributed to his mother’s temperament:

My mother was a benevolent tyrant, who through the sheer force of her personality dominated everyone in her immediate orbit…. Both Janet and I, the two people my mother loved most in the world and who reciprocated that love, had maintained a relationship with her by defending our independence. (Letter from Del Mar, p. 2)

Natalia waters down the effect of the separation on their relationship leaving it to son William to more fully illuminate the strain. Drawing on correspondence his mother didn’t want published in her lifetime, he reveals how more than once they came close to parting. Janet’s response to a Dear Jane letter from Natalia in 1946 underscores both her devastation as well as her poetic writing:

Nothing will take your place because you are my last horizon, your figure, your shoulders, your straight waist, your shapely legs, all of you standing against a scene and that is the last thing my eyes in love will ever see. You are my last portrait of the heart. (Janet, My Mother, and Me, p. 170)

Natalia relented, as she did when her frustration boiled over again in the 1950s and 1960s. Also, Janet’s priorities shifted as she grew older. Natalia writes, “she became more ready to give up her Paris life and habits, to be with me for longer periods.”

In 1975 Janet penned her last Letter from Paris and finally came to live with Natalia in the two-bedroom apartment they owned together. They had three more years until Janet died at 86. Natalia lived another 16 years, dying at 92 in California where she had moved to be looked after by her son and his family.


Part of the pleasure of reading Darlinghissima is seeing history in its first incarnation as current events. Natalia and Janet’s distress over the failure of humanist values, fears about communism and the stupidity of warmongering men recur as themes. An early fan of Charles de Gaulle, Janet’s grows increasingly disillusioned with his leadership. The French war in Algiers, the Bay of Pigs, the Vietnam War crop up amongst their worries for the human race.

At other times reading Darlinghissima is like cracking open an eclectic edition of Who’s Who. Both Natalia and Janet were sociable women and counted many writers and artists among their friends. Already good mates with the Italian film director Roberto Rossellini, they helped make his new partner, Ingrid Bergman, feel at home in Rome in 1950. While on Capri in 1952 Natalia reports that they met “an attractive, affable young congressman by the name of John Kennedy.”

In 1964, Janet fills Natalia in on a phone call from a writer friend:

Oh, who do you think phoned the other night? Pat Highsmith, [author of Carol] about ten p.m . . . When I told her how much we admired her talent, she was so touched she could hardly speak.

Tennessee Williams and his lover Frank Merlo stayed with them on Fire Island. Janet helped care for Alice Toklas in her old age, at one point delivering her to the American Hospital for cataract surgery. Later, when Alice died, Janet was the first to receive the news at 1.30 in the morning from Alice’s Spanish maid.

By the end of the 1960s, I had grown a little weary of Janet’s descriptions of flowers, foliage and weather, and by then some of her opinions reflected a creakiness probably inescapable from someone in primary school when Queen Victoria still sat on the throne. Yet any 40-year correspondence is bound to flag in places and that this one does so infrequently is a tribute to Janet’s way with words and Natalia’s vibrant commentary.

Janet F & NataliaNatalia and Janet in the Manhattan apartment they shared for the last 3 years of Janet’s life. Photo by Jill Krementz.

At a deeper level, Darlinghissima resonates because it provides insight into how two dynamic, complex individuals negotiated their relationship in the face of pressures on them as lesbians and women. A generation earlier, Gertrude Stein and Alice Toklas adopted the heterosexual conventions of the day and acted as husband and wife, or as Alice Friedman terms it, “genius” and “wife of genius”.   Perhaps because the war opened up more opportunities for them, Natalia and Janet chose a different route.

Neither harbored the expectation the other would subordinate her career. Certainly the tension created by Janet’s insistence on living in Paris would have been avoided if one of them had. The ‘wife’ would have packed up and moved. Problem solved! Though Natalia chafed at their separations, the issue was distance, never Janet’s commitment to her writing. Natalia, who had a feminist single mother, and who became one herself, needed and wanted to work. Not as famous as Janet, all the same, she was a force to be reckoned with first in broadcasting and then in publishing.

Conversely, neither denigrated the domestic sphere. Even though Janet expressed little need for a domestic life, preferring to be like a “bird on a branch,” she acknowledged Natalia’s deep desire to create a home, and she certainly appreciated the one Natalia provide when they lived together.

Negotiating the closet

That Natalia and Janet chose to remain quiet in public about their sexual orientation is not surprising. Even without taking homophobia into account, working women found it difficult to make a living after the war when women were booted out of the office and factory. They were only earning 64 cents to the man’s dollar.5 Natalia refers to her struggles to find a job once back in civilian life, a struggle that forced her to abandon Rome and closer proximity to Janet. Though in hindsight Janet’s employment appears more steady, given it endured for 50 years, her letters reflect an insecurity over her talent (fostered by the cultural script that women are never good enough?) and the accompanying worry that she might lose her position.

Natalia and Janet negotiated the closet in ways familiar for women of their era. First, they relied on their invisibility to straight culture that affords women greater latitude than men for cohabitation and companionship. To the uniformed they were merely good friends who travelled together and lived together when Janet was in New York. (Even today in some of the straight academic articles and popular press I’ve read about them they are referred to as ‘close friends’ or similar. How anyone can read Darlinghissima and come away with such an assessment I cannot fathom.)

Second, they carved out a queer space amongst family and their circle of gay and straight friends. For many years Natalia kept her Fire Island bach and also bought and renovated a cottage near Capri. Janet, as she had from the 1920s, socialised with a lesbian coterie while in Paris. Noël Murphy’s country home, Orgeval, served as her weekend getaway. Third, both women enjoyed fashion and to a degree conformed to heterosexual notions of femininity, though Janet’s ‘uniform’ of silk scarves and couture suits accessorized by her Legion d’honneur red ribbon could be read as masculine and therefore subversive.

Natalia 1986Natalia reading from Darlinghissima at the Manhattan Theatre Club in 1986.

Through Darlinghissima, Natalia comes at least part way out of the closet at 83. William indicates in his memoir that his mother agonized about what to leave in and what to take out. If he had asked her not to publish it for the sake of his three children, by then adults, she would have abandoned the project. She never uses the word lesbian; “passionate friendship” is her own term for what she and Janet meant to each other. In her introduction she issues an appeal to her grandchildren’s generation hoping that they, reared in more liberated times, “will understand and value our experience and efforts to be, above all, decent human beings.”

The younger generation did indeed value their story. Natalia became a lesbian icon and a celebrity on Fire Island amongst its now well-established queer community. In 1992, says William, she and Janet’s old friend the photographer Giselle Freund “reigned there that summer as queens, befriended and nurtured by a small tribe of admirers and acolytes.”

Darlinghissima: Letters to a Friend is the record of a grand love affair. That it occurred between two middle-aged women who grew old together (mostly while apart) makes it a precious testament. “I think their story is important;” says William Murray, “If you can find that kind of relationship with any other single individual in your lifetime, you’re very lucky.”

Lisa Williams is the author of three novels and is working on a fourth, Cotilla Godzilla, which she hopes to complete this year. In her day job she works as a research fellow for the School of Nursing at the University of Auckland.


1 Gertrude Stein’s laugh: “It was like a bellows, it was like an extraordinary breath, a gust of lambent, laughing air that burst out of her when she laughed, and she would lean back and her whole anatomy would rise inflated by the pleasure she was feeling as she laughed.” Janet Flanner: The Writer in America film series.

2 Natalia’s marriage to William Murray Sr, an American, brought her to the States from Italy in 1924.

3 The Escape of Mrs. Jeffries appeared in three parts. See the May 22, May 29 and June 5, 1943 editions in The New Yorker online archive.

4 At the Nuremberg trials, the French prosecutors employed the new and at that time surprising strategy of calling ordinary people as witnesses. Janet, reporting on the trials for The New Yorker, again focused on the suffering of women by including their testimony in her article. See her Letter from Paris in the 23 February 1946 edition of the magazine, which can be found in the magazine’s online archive.

5 For many years, sixty-four cents was the high water mark for US women. From 1956 their earning power fell and didn’t again reach 64 cents until 1985! As of 2013, the latest figure listed, it was at 78.3 cents. Source:

Further reading/viewing

By Janet Flanner

Paris Was Yesterday, 1925-1939
Paris Journal, 1944-1955
Men and Monuments
Janet Flanner’s World: Uncollected Writings
London Was Yesterday, 1934-1939


Reflections on the Transforming Feminisms Conference in Dunedin

Around 110 people attended this conference in late November, mostly those identifying as women. Auckland feminist and participant Sylvia Baynes gives her perspective.

Transforming femsThe conference opened on November 23 with the first keynote plenary talk: Transgress, translate, transcend, transform? Criminalised women and creative writing, by Tracey McIntosh of the University of Auckland. She drew on the writing and artwork of Māori women in prison to show how they articulate their experiences and respond to prison life. The concluding applause was very enthusiastic.

This was complimented next day by Jenny Ostini, discussing the digital education project run by the University of Southern Queensland in Australian correctional centres. It aims “to reduce recidivism and break the cycle of victimization through education and tailored tertiary and pre-tertiary programs for incarcerated students.” Like Tracey, she examined the positives and negatives of such programmes for prisoners and asked how much the system addresses the link between domestic violence, imprisonment and educational disadvantage.

TransAudreyYueThe most popular keynote address was given by Audrey Yue, left, of Melbourne University. This diminutive speaker held all genders and persuasions spellbound by her address, which was entitled: Of all the continents in the world, Asia is the gayest! The quote comes from the gay Asian Australian writer Benjamin Law, who talks tongue-in-cheek about ‘Gaysia’. Audrey notes that while homosexuality is legal in 27 out of 48 Asian countries, public expression of sexual identity varies. She argues that any examination of queer Asia must recognise the history of colonisation, taking Singapore as her case study. Homosexuality is illegal there, but sex reassignment surgery is encouraged and a flourishing night club culture provides a space for same-sex attracted people. ‘Butch hunt’ competitions are a regular feature, as are tom boy bands, who, judging by the clip we viewed, play with verve and enthusiasm.

TransGleesenI attended Jessamy Gleeson’s session; she is pictured being a SlutWalk activist in Melbourne. SlutWalk began as a protest march in Toronto, Canada, sparked by a policeman’s comment that women wanting to avoid sexual assault should not dress like sluts. The movement spread to many other countries, encouraged by social media. Jessamy says the Melbourne movement developed a “safe online feminist consciousness-raising space”.

A presentation which impressed me was Stevie Jepson’s study of Shulamith Firestone’s 1970 book The Dialectic of Sex and other feminist utopias. I rejoiced in this tribute to a largely forgotten, intellectual feminist writer.

The section on Religious Transformations gave us voices from the third world. Rohana Arrifin, the leader of a small left-wing party in Malaysia, noted the increasing conservatism in this Muslim country. Even politically-active women now accede to social pressure in wearing a head scarf. This was supported by James Mirrone, who lectures at Qatar University, in an intriguing presentation, Women as men and men as made by women: Transgressive and transforming images of beauty in 19th century Qajar women in Iran.” The session showed photographs of women in a period when women eschewed the veil before a more regressive modern era. This section finished with a presentation by Tha Era Yousef, Rohana’s daughter, currently studying at Otago, called Patriarchy, women and Islam: Narrative framing of sisters in Islam.

In the themed section Transgenders/Transworld, I gave a paper based on interviews with transpeople I had conducted in the late 1980s and early 1990s, emphasising its retrospective nature, as much water has since passed under the bridge. I was followed by Joanna McIntyre, who looked at transgender celebrities, focussing on the ubiquitous Caitlin Jenner, including a video of her and other transpeople. I found the most authentic voice to be a Black TransChastranswoman who wasn’t allowed into nursing school when they discovered her background. She wanted to get an education and serve her community, and had more resonance with me than the wealthy Caitlin, who frets and struts her hour upon the celebrity stage. It is noticeable that all those in the celebrity trans line-up are male-to-female. In discussion we could think of only one noted female-to-male transperson – Chaz Bono, left, the child of celebrity parents, Cher and the late Sonny Bono.

This trans-triptych was completed by Sonja Vivienne examining a small trans community in Adelaide, Australia, who employ social media for “affirmation and advocacy”. Sonja’s book Digital identity and everyday activism published by Palgrave, was launched during the conference at the Blue Oyster art project space. Bell Murphy also convened a feminist trans-friendly self-defence workshop.

The third keynote, Constance Penley’s Feminist porn, was the only one to make the Otago Daily Times, in an article by Carla Green, headlined ‘Anti-porn movement slammed’. I experienced a sense of déjà vu, thinking of past feminist controversies on erotica vs pornography. While not all feminists would agree with her positions, I found her a feisty individual, challenging accepted views. She appears to have angered right-wing anti-pornography types, who threatened her with legal injunctions and tried to get her removed from her academic post with the University of California in Santa Barbara. In return, she cited academic freedom and tenure. It would have interesting to find out more about her stand and definitions.

TransThreeWordsShe had been impressed by the Three Words comic collective workshop, which I had not attended. The three editors, left, have a forthcoming “anthology of comics from Aotearoa/New Zealand with a feminist agenda” (see the Media page). Look back, Alison Bechdel, there are Kiwi women comic artists snapping at your heels!

The last workshop I attended was Gurleen Khandpur’s commentary on the 2010 Delhi gang rape case, where she drew parallels with other prominent rape cases in India from 1972. Anyone who saw the powerful documentary India’s daughter in Auckland a few months ago will remember the vivid impression it left on viewers. Gurleen noted the widespread protests and demonstrations galvanised by the 2012 case and the call for legal reform. She asked whether the Internet “has changed the landscape of social change, and how much has remained the same only now in a different garb?” Time will tell.

Other queer-female oriented sessions included: Sarah Richardson’s Queer temporality and intimate counter-histories in [the TV series] Transparent; Grace Torcasio’s Broad city: Queering straight femininity and the temporal logics of the ‘quality’ comedy; Jennifer Shields’ ‘Beautiful and lofty things’: Queer appeals to power in [sexologist Krafft-Ebing’s 1886 book] Psychopathia sexualis and the modern gay movement; and Siobhan Hodge’s Sappho in cyberspace: Poetics and power struggles.

Hunt up these authors online or wait for an edited collection of papers from the conference planned for publication by Palgrave in early 2017.

It was gratifying to see the numbers of younger women attending. Male attendance and presentations were largely well-managed. There were a couple of sour notes in presentations I didn’t attend but heard about. In a session on rape, one of the men patronised a female participant by calling her a ‘girl’. I avoided another session called ‘The flesh of pegging’ which had something to do with dildos, because the abstract seemed voyeuristic. The session was later described to me as a ‘mistake’.

The conference ended with a lively hour-long closing discussion, a poroporoaki by Emilie Rakete and a song by Bell Murphy.

Sylvia says others may describe her as ‘gender neuter’, “but I much prefer calling myself a senile delinquent”.

Rātaka takatāpui, Dyke Diary for Hui-tanguru / February 2016

Northland/Te Tai Tokerau

kayakersTuesday 9 to Saturday 13 Women only sea kayak trip, Bay of Islands Learn the art of sea kayaking. Stay on Urupukapuka Island; explore Motuarohia, Motukiekie, Okahu, Waewaetorea & Moturua Islands. Cost includes guides, kayaking instruction, kayaks, kayaking gear, tents, camping fees, all meals, eating utensils, safety gear incl. a VHF radio & first aid kit: $1,100. Visit for more information.

Auckland/Tamaki Makaurau

Pride logoFriday 5 to Sunday 28 Auckland Pride Festival Heroic Gardens, Saturday 13-Sunday 14; Big Gay Out, Sunday 14; Pride Parade, Saturday 20; Pride Party, Saturday 20.

Queer Film FestivalFriday 5 to Sunday 21 Auckland Queer Film Festival Academy Cinema, 44 Lorne St, central city. Visit the Facebook event page or the Academy’s Coming soon page for details and updates.

Sunday 7 Dyke Hike Waharau Ridge Track or Lower Loop. There are two options on this walk, both are uphill. Meet beforehand to carpool or at the first Waharau car park. Ridge Track -3.5 hrs, Lower Loop 1.5 hrs. Grade: Ridge Track is moderate to hard, the Lower loop is easy to moderate.  Email, visit or the Facebook page to check grade expectations.

Pride Dykes on MicsSunday 7 to Sunday 6 March Lesbian Pride An exhibition of work relating to “proud to be a lesbian” from artists including Fran Marno, Beth Hudson, Dons Savage, Thierry Weerts, Miriam Saphira and others. Charlotte Museum, 8a Bentinck St, New Lynn; free; open Wednesday & Sundays 1 – 4pm.

 Sunday 7 Dykes on Mics for PRIDE 6pm, performances starts at 7pm; Garnet Station, 85 Garnet Rd, Westmere.

Monday 8 “Better gay than grumpy” badge-making workshop, 3-6pm, Charlotte Museum, 8a Bentinck St, Grey Lynn. Free.

legacy3-q-bannerTuesday 9 to Saturday 13 Legacy Project 3 (part of Auckland Pride), Q Theatre LOFT, 305 Queen St, 8pm, tickets $15-$20. A queer kiwi perspective on modern lives, “Stories of love and connection, of family and friendship, of understanding and denial, to ask ourselves what it really means to be called lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer today. ”

Rock&SpeirTuesday 9 to Thursday 11 Rock & Speir in A twist of lesbian, 8pm, Garnet Station, 85 Garnet Rd, Westmere. Tickets $20/$25. See website or Facebook event page. Silliness and songs from comedy duo Cissy Rock and Anne Speir as Pamalala & Skye keep feminism alive. Wednesday 10, women-only audience.

puzzyTuesday 9 to Saturday 13 Puzzy, Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, 9pm, tickets $18.50, $20, $23. A lesbian voice in Pacific theatre, see our interview with debut playwright and Hawaiian-based Samoan-Filipino Kiki, the funny and moving story of one young woman’s experiences coming out and finding love. See the Facebook page. Photo by Ane Tonga.

Wednesday 10-14 and 18-19 Night of the Queer, dance, live music, aerial, theatre, cabaret and comedy, TAPAC, 100 Motions Rd, Western Springs, $38/$33, see the website or Facebook.

Thursday 11 Carol, opening night screening, Queer Film Festival, 8pm, Academy Cinema, 44 Lorne St. Tickets $15, $12 concession.

Friday 12 Heroic Garden Fete Join the Fifth Season (gay) Garden Group at Ayrlies, 125 Potts Rd, Whitford, 10am-4pm, $10 at the gate. Pop-up café, expert talks, plant market, lawn games, raffles, garden art, cut flowers, pickles & preserves. See the webpage.

Friday 12 to Sunday 14 same same but different A celebration of Aotearoa New Zealand’s top LGBTQI writers, AUT WG building, Governor Fitzroy Pl, see event programme (5-page PDF) and website for tickets.

Saturday 13–Saturday 20 Proud to Play see the website and Facebook community page.

Sunday 14 Big Gay Out Coyle Park, Pt Chevalier, 12 midday to 7pm. Keep updated via their Facebook event page.

BOLD coverWednesday 17 BOLD book launch 6pm, Women’s Bookshop, 105 Ponsonby Rd. More than 50 older LGBTI storytellers, including five NZ women: Miriam Saphira, Heather McPherson, Lois Cox, Alison Laurie and Jill Levestre. $5 on the door.

Wednesday 17 Decolonizing Pride Poetry Slam Thirsty Dog Tavern & Cafe, 469 Karangahape Rd, 7-10.30pm. For Takataapui Takatāpui/Fa’afafine/Akava’ine/Fakaleiti or LGBTQIAP and straight allies. Contestants and judges will all be LGBTQIAP. See Facebook event page.

Thursday 18 Proud to Play Same-Sex Dancesport Championships, Te Atatu Peninsula Community Centre, Auckland.  See the webpage.

Saturday 20 Raggamuffin reggae and roots festival, Trusts Arena, 65-67 Central Park Drive, Henderson, 10am-10.30pm. Jamaican lesbian reggae singer, songwriter and producer Diana King performs 3.50-4.40pm on the reggae stage. See the event website, her Facebook page, or hear her on YouTube.

Saturday 20 The Bill with Fiona Clark photography exhibition opening and artist talk, 2pm, Artspace, Level 1, 300 Karangahape Rd, free. Exhibition runs to March 5, then includes other artists. Open Tuesday – Friday 10am-6pm, Saturday 11am-4pm.

outandloudSaturday 20 OUT AND LOUD Grand Matinee Show of the OUT AND LOUD 2016 Choral Festival, with 200 singers from eight LGBTQI groups from Australasia. Songs from each choir and a new song for the massed choir. Western Springs College, 100 Motions Rd, Western Springs. Tickets $25 pre-pay, $30 door sales (if any), $10 children; see the Grand Matinee Show event Facebook page or the outandloud choral festival Facebook event page.

Saturday 20 Auckland Pride Parade Ponsonby Rd, 6pm start, see the website.

Saturday 20 Pride party with Sydney singer-songwriter Mary Kiani and a women’s zone, Studio, 340 Karangahape Rd, 9pm–4am, $45.

Pride LickSaturday 20 Lick Auckland – After Pride Parade party for girls who love girls and their friends. Neck of the Woods, 155b Karangahape Rd, 10pm-4am, R18. See Lick Auckland or the event page here.

Sunday 21 Coffee & Stroll 10am, meet at Swiss Garden cafe, 172 Hurstmere Rd, Takapuna for coffee (in the garden out the back – go through the ice-cream side – if weather permits), 10.30am, a pleasant 40-minute or so stroll on Takapuna Beach.

Saturday 21 Bride – Moana Nui Picnic for Pacific queer, fa’afafine and other third gender peoples and their friends, Okahu Bay Reserve, 11.30am-4.30pm. See the Facebook page.

Sunday 21 Story telling humour Comic Deb Filler presents a one-off evening of stories from her comedy workshop participants. Garnet Station, 85 Garnet Rd, Westmere, 6pm, $15. Door sales, but seating limited so booking advised.

Carol stillSunday 28 Women’s Centre fundraiser film screening: Carol Capitol Cinema, 610 Dominion Rd, Balmoral; 7.30pm; tickets $20. See the event Facebook page.

LaBelleSaisonMonday 29 La Belle Saison 6.10pm in French Film Festival; see website for tickets and venue information.

Want more information (warning, spoilers)? Read interview with life partners director Catherine Corsini and producer Elisabeth Perez, and Variety review.


Waikato/Central North Island

Wednesday 3 GLOW singers open night 7-8.30 pm, Waikato University, Hillcrest Rd, Hamilton. Email for venue and directions or if you can sing in tune and would like to join. GLOW are also looking for a pianist to play a few songs – not necessarily a weekly commitment.

Wednesday 10 GLOW singers open night 7-8.30 pm, Waikato University, Hillcrest Rd, Hamilton. Email for venue and directions.

Friday 12 Lesbian Social Group drinks  Front garden bar, Good Home, 27 Hood St, Hamilton, from 5.30pm.

Wednesday 17 GLOW singers open night 7-8.30 pm, Waikato University, Hillcrest Rd, Hamilton. Email for venue and directions.

Wellington/ Te Whanganui-a-Tara

Friday 5 Wellington Pride Festival/ Tū whakahīhī e te Whanganui-a-Tara programme launch 8pm, Ivy Bar (James Smith building basement), 49 Cuba St, Te Aro. See Facebook event page.

Sunday 7 Pre-Proud Conference Youth Hui Evolve Youth Service, Level 2, James Smith Building, corner Manners and Cuba Sts, 11am – late afternoon, free, food provided. Visit the website or Facebook page.

Thursday 11 Carol – InsideOUT movie fundraiser, 8-10pm, Light House Cinema, 29 Wigan St, Te Aro. Tickets $20 or $25 including a drink and vegan/gf chocolates; message the Facebook page or e-mail

Saturday 13 Women’s Pre-Conference Hui 1-5pm, Toi Poneke Arts Centre 61-69 Abel Smith St, Te Aro. In advance of the Aotearoa ILGA Oceania Rainbow Human Rights and Health Conference, March 9-12. Anyone who identifies as a LGBTIA+ woman is welcome to attend this free event.

Saturday 13 Lick Wellington Valentine’s Gay for girls who love girls and their invited friends, 10pm-3am, Meow, 9 Edward St, city, playing hiphop, R&B, electro house, old school and new school jams. $15, cash only, see event page or the Facebook organisation page

Sunday 14 Overlanders walk Dry Creek A circuit at the northern end of Belmont Regional Park, about 3.5 hours return. Meet at the front of the Wellington Railway Station 10am to car pool, or at the walk start by 10.30; the carpark at the bottom of Haywards Hill SH58, near the junction with SH2. Phone Ellen 027 209 4004, before 9.30am on the day only, for transport/car pooling from Wellington and the Hutt.

Sunday 14-Wednesday 17 Jagged Little Pilgrimage 6.30pm, BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Tce; tickets $18 (concessions, $12 & $14). Ali Jacs presents a 1-woman journey through 2 decades of love, loss, anger, hilarity, curiosity, awakening. And it’s a little bit ironic. Combining spoken word poetry with musical interludes and comedic theatrical elements, the show provides an answer to each song on Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill album, intertwining Ali’s own life learnings with those of her lyrical 90s’ muse.

LaBelleSaisonMonday 22, 6.30pm La Belle Saison (also Sunday 28, 4.30pm) in French Film Festival; see website for tickets and venue information. Want more information (warning, spoilers)? Read interview with life partners director Catherine Corsini and producer Elisabeth Perez, and Variety review.


Nelson area/Whakatū

Wednesday 3 Games night from 5.30pm,  Prince Albert Hotel, 113 Nile St, Nelson. Email The Lesbian Connection (TLC) at to go on mailing list or for more details.

Wednesday 10 Pool @ Shark Club, 132 Bridge St, Nelson, from 5.30pm. Email The Lesbian Connection (TLC) at to go on mailing list or for more details.

LaBelleSaisonTuesday 15, 6.15pm in French Film Festival; see website for tickets and venue information. Want more information (warning, spoilers)? Read interview with life partners director Catherine Corsini and producer Elisabeth Perez, and Variety review.

Wednesday 17 Games night from 5.30pm,  Prince Albert Hotel, 113 Nile St, Nelson. Email The Lesbian Connection (TLC) at to go on mailing list or for more details.

Sunday 21 Nelson brunch/lunch 11am, Sinful Coffee, 276 Queen St, Richmond. Email The Lesbian Connection (TLC) at to go on mailing list or for more details.

Sunday 21 Brightwater Wine & Food Festival 11am-5pm, Snowden Bush Scenic Reserve, Brightwater. Entry $15 early bird, $20 on the gate. Bring a picnic blanket and have some fun in the sun with a glass or two. Email The Lesbian Connection (TLC) at to go on mailing list or for more details about where/when to meet up.

Wednesday 24 Pool @ Shark Club, 132 Bridge St, Nelson, from 5.30pm. Email The Lesbian Connection (TLC) at to go on mailing list or for more details.

Sunday 28 Motueka brunch/lunch, 11am, T.O.A.D Hall Store and Cafe, 502 High St, Motueka. Email The Lesbian Connection (TLC) at to go on mailing list or for more details.


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


February 19 – March 6 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras see website or Facebook.

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

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