Pipiri / June 2015

What was going on in June? – we’ve collected all the items here.

Dyke Diary

Ngā pitopito kōrero, News

Auckland’s Council Rainbow Panel seeks members
Lesbian musical on tour?
Outgames 2016
Questioning? group
Charlotte photography exhibition
Foxy Merkins movie
Women’s Centre 40th gala dinner
LGBT research projects
aLBa’s future
Overseas conference
Wellington Council edges towards a living wage
News From All Over

Rainbow Panel applications wanted

Auckland Council rainbow logoLesbians and queer women who would like to be on Auckland Councils’ new Rainbow Communities’ Advisory Panel are invited to apply between June 9 and 24.

The council describes the job as giving “strategic advice on issues of significance to their community, and helping the council talk with Auckland’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex (GLBTI) communities”.

Cathy Casey will be the liaison councillor for the panel. “It’s important this part of the community feels engaged and well represented. We want to make sure we have a very colourful Rainbow panel,” she said.

Application forms can be found in council libraries and customer centres and online.

Lesbian musical may tour main centres

Lesbian songwriter and performer Anji Kreft, left, started writing It happens!, a trilogy of lesbian stories, in 2011 when she lived in Wellington. “One part is a coming out story, another is about unrequited love, and the third story is about lost love, where a long-term couple lose their way,” she says.

Anji hopes to have the show produced in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch within a year, and is looking at options for funding and venues. “I want to be able to pay people something, not have them just do it as volunteers.”

Lesbian actor/singer wanted

Anji colourAnji is looking for another lesbian who can act and sing for a ten-minute performance from the musical in a concert in July.

The scene is four minutes of dialogue and a duet about the moment when a character who has been in love with her long-term friend for ages gets the courage to say how she feels. The It happens! scene will be part of a concert at the Auckland Women’s Centre on July 18.

Anji is looking for someone who is reasonably confident with acting and singing, who looks between mid-30s and mid-40s, and who can play a confident femme with a sense of humour. “She doesn’t need to be a professional,” she says. Anji has been a professional actor and singer for many years but has “never actually worked with another lesbian actor.” She hopes she can find someone within her community.

Apart from the short scene from her musical and a repeat performance of the Dolly Parton medley performed with two friends at the Womens Centre’s Dolly Tribute fundraiser last year, the rest of the concert is Anji’s one woman show, in response to requests from women who have heard her sing at Dykes on Mics and Heroes Out West.

Song writing courses

Anji is working on a lot of music activities. She runs two choirs in Auckland whose members are largely women, including several lesbians, as well as a song writing and audio production course called My Life, My Music. She has been running this course for three years and will be doing so later this year for members of Rainbow Youth and the Waitakere Women’s Centre.

Email Anji at anjikmedia@yahoo.co.nz.

Register and volunteer for the Outgames

APOG logoSportsdykes all over Aotearoa will start sharpening their skills and fitness for the fourth Asia Pacific Outgames in Auckland from February 13 to 20 2016, with registration open from early June 2015 and sports finalised. Organisers expect around 1,600 sports participants and another few hundred for the Human Rights (HR) Forum.

The opening ceremony, where athletes walk on in their teams from around Asia, the Pacific and the rim, will be held at the Viaduct Events Centre, as will the HR Forum. The games registration and information hub will be in the nearby North Wharf area, and some sports events will also be held at the waterfront – the aquathon at Westhaven marina, dancesport at the Viaduct Event Centre, ocean swimming at Mission Bay, and road running.

Most of the sports events – badminton, body building, bridge, chess, soccer, netball, roller derby, touch rugby, track and field events and volleyball – will be held in or around the Trusts Arena in Henderson. Others will be at nearby West Auckland venues – golf at the Huapai golf club; pool swimming in the Westwave Pool; squash at the Henderson Squash Club; ten pin bowling at Pins Lincoln; and tennis at Te Pai Place Tennis Club.

Lawn bowls is the sole event on the north shore; the venue for the softball tournament has yet to be confirmed.

Most sports will have men’s and women’s tournaments; transpeople will compete in their chosen gender. Netball will also have a mixed tournament, and some sports will have a social or novice grade as well as an advanced grade. Sports director Kent Phillips says “It’s about participation – we’ve tried to make it as accessible, fair and level as possible.” Details about individual sports events will be on the website this month.

Registration for sports participants is $99 until October 31 and $125 until the deadline of January 31. The Human Rights Forum costs $300 for the three and a half days; $150 for one day or $50/day for young people and those on low incomes. Funding is being sought for some scholarships for people from low income countries.


Women who like to just watch sportsdykes in action will have their best chances as volunteers, and will be able to register on the website from the end of this month. They will be contacted by volunteer co-ordinator Michael Bancroft. Organisers hope that some women in paid work will take some time off to be involved, as the forum and all but four sports events will be held during the working week, and they estimate they will need around 400 volunteers.

See www.4apog.com; otherwise email Kent Phillips, volunteer sports director; for general information email director Damien O’Connor.


The Auckland Women’s Centre will run its annual Questioning? group for women attracted to other women from July 7.

AWCquestioningEllie Lim says she and Cissy Rock, the other facilitator, “have fine-tuned how we run the group” over the years and “it’s a very smooth process.”

Ellie has noticed that since the Marriage Equality law, “a lot more women are questioning rather than wanting to come out and get into the community. I think that changes in law have a flow-on effect, and more women are open to expressing their attraction towards women while they may be still be in relationships with men.”

The six-week group offers a supportive women’s space to talk about same sex attraction, whether or not women want to come out as bisexual or lesbian. It explores topics like gender, telling family, friends and work colleagues, meeting people, stereotypes, finding community and dating.

Previous participants have said that they enjoyed “being able to talk to people who were experiencing similar things to me. Having experienced people to help us and cheer us on”.

The group will meet from 7-9pm on Tuesdays from July 7 to August 11 at the Auckland Women’s Centre, 4 Warnock St, Grey Lynn. It is free but bookings are essential as they take a maximum of 20. Contact Ellie on 376 3227 x 1 or email womensservices@womenz.org.nz.

Charlotte photography

Charlotte K7lotusPhotos of breasts, faces, protests and the natural world are part of the photography exhibition at the Charlotte Museum of lesbian culture in Auckland open until June 24.

They include eight pictures of the mature lesbian breast by Kara Rosemeier; travel and other photos by Kseven (pictured), taken with an iPhone and iPad; Fran Marno’s photos of her partner and friends; experimental prism photos by Miriam Saphira; and photos of Women’s Land in Europe by Therry Weerts.

On June 28 at 2pm, Fran Marno’s Faces exhibition opens, featuring extreme close-up paintings of lesbian faces.

CharlotteMarnoAnnabelThe museum’s upstairs meeting room is available for rent by groups or individuals for a donation. It has just been repainted and takes up to 20 people. The museum also has a small office which is available for $25 a week for a group or as an artist’s studio.

The museum is open on Wednesday and Sunday afternoons from 1-4pm. See contact details under Auckland on our Social page.

The Foxy Merkins

AWCFMdirectorMOlnekThe Auckland Women’s Centre is screening this sell-out lesbian comedy from the Sundance and Melbourne Queer film festivals as a fundraiser at the Capitol Cinema in Balmoral on Sunday June 21. [Note, a merkin is a pubic wig.]

Directed by Madeline Olnek (pictured), the film is a female parody of male hustler films and an absurdist buddy movie, which one critic said cheerfully demolished female stereotypes, gay and straight. The film is set in an unlikely Manhattan prostitution trade where well-educated homeless women serve closeted lesbian socialites.

AWCFMshotMargaret, centre, a down-on-her-luck and unlikely sex worker in training, meets up with Jo, a beautiful and confident grifter from a wealthy family who is an expert on sex with women, even though she considers herself proudly heterosexual.

The centre imports feminist and women’s alternative films that won’t get shown in NZ and has a line-up of lesbian and feminist films for screening later in the year.

Tickets are $20 or $25 for the movie and a glass of wine or ice cream. Doors open at 7pm and the film starts at 7.30pm. To book, phone 376 3227 x 0, email info@womenz.org.nz; buy at the centre or The Women’s Bookshop, 105 Ponsonby Rd (cash only); or use internet banking to the Auckland Women’s Centre Inc ASB Grey Lynn account 12 3012 0782605 00.

See the event’s Facebook page and trailer.

Celebrating 40 years: AWC Gala Dinner

AWC gala dinnerThe Auckland Women’s Centre is celebrating 40 years of supporting women with a Gala Dinner at the Grey Lynn Community Centre on Saturday July 25.

The three-course dinner will be followed by cake, story-telling and entertainment from Ellie Lim and Sabrina Muck, and stories from Kylee Quince, Judy McGregor, Teri Fong, Pleasance Hansen and Leonie Morris.

Tickets are on a sliding scale from $35-$65. To book, email info@womenz.org.nz, or call 09 376 3227 x 0

Sport and activism research

Two research projects are investigating lesbian and queer women’s experiences of sport political activism.

University of Auckland Masters student Sophie Sills wants to hear from lesbians and queer women who have played or play women’s team sports. Sills, who identifies as queer and plays soccer for the Norwest United premier women’s team, was motivated by the sexism and male dominance of sport, which results in many sportswomen being portrayed as masculine, unfeminine or lesbian.

“As a lesbian myself, I found it problematic that the thought of being seen as a lesbian (something I do not think is insulting) might stop some women from participating,” she says. “So my research is looking into homophobia in sport, and aimed at making sport more equal for all sportspeople by breaking down some of the prejudice.”

Sophie will produce an information leaflet about inclusivity for sports organisations. Participants will be part of small group discussions about topics like bodies, appearance, prejudice and closets.

Email Sophie by the end of July on ssil028@aucklanduni.ac.nz.


A larger project, about changes in lesbian, queer, intersex and trans campaigning between 1974 and 2013 is being led by Shiv Ganesh at Massey University Albany with interviewer Joey Macdonald. They want to interview up to 30 lesbian and queer activists about how we organised campaigns, including (but not only) gay liberation in 1974, Homosexual Law Reform in 1985-6, our inclusion in the Human Rights Act in 1994, civil unions in 2004, and the marriage amendment campaign in 2012.

They’re also keen to copy personal photos from campaigns, news clippings and other items women may have kept.

Contact Joey on 021 0825 6395 or j.macdonald1@massey.ac.nz.

Suggestions wanted about aLBa’s future

Alba poster choppedThe Auckland Lesbian Business Association (aLBa) is asking for suggestions for the future of the group at aLBa’s June meeting, after six months of it being aLBa Engine, a simple social meeting rather than a business networking group.

Interested lesbians are invited to aLBa Engine’s monthly gathering hosted by Verity George, Cissy Rock and Anne Speir on Wednesday June 10 from 6 to 8pm at Garnet Station. Drinks, tapas and dinner are available.

They will take suggestions to the upcoming AGM.

Matariki events

A feast of art, music and performance, astronomical, foodie and festive events around the country will mark Matariki, the Māori new year, between mid-June and mid-July.

Matariki KerikeriHighlights include Briar Grace-Smith’s play Ngā Pou Wāhine in Auckland city and Wellington; tea with Patricia Grace on Auckland’s north shore; a fashion and performance evening in Tauranga; music by Ariana Tikao in Lower Hutt; Te Wā a Hine, a night of women’s words, dance and drama, the Seven Sisters concert, and dystopic play 2080, all in Wellington; and art by Tracey Tawhiao in Dunedin.

Ngā Pou Wāhine, a new season of Grace-Smith’s first play, shows the journey of a young, working-class wahine, as she discovers her true spirit through the stories of her whanau and the history of her ancestor. It’s on at the Aotea Centre’s Herald Theatre in Auckland from June 26 to July 1, and at Te Papa on June 24.

Matariki PaerauHear Patricia Grace talk about Chappy, her first novel in a decade, portraying family life, cross-cultural conflict and the need to belong, at the wharfside Esplanade Hotel in Devonport with an afternoon tea; $34.

Te ao hou (the new world), a night of fashion, art and performance, will launch the Tauranga Art Gallery’s Matariki exhibitions on June 18. The gallery is also hosting an exhibition by fashion designer Shona Tawhiao of seven garments using contemporary mahi raranga (flax weaving) with other materials from May to July 17, and the last showing of Uku Rere, the first major survey of contemporary Māori clay artists, including Paerau Corneal (left) and Colleen Urlich from May to August 2.

Kāi Tahu singer Ariana Tikao (below) will sing haunting original and ancestral waiata and play taonga puoro (traditional Māori wind instruments) and dulcimer at the Dowse Art Museum in Lower Hutt on July 2.

MatarikiArianaTikaoTe Wā a Hine explores taha wāhine, the female aspects of life, in an interactive space for poetry, kōrero, dance and drama, created according to tikanga pōhiri – the principles of engagement. Tina Ngata, Teina Moetara and Ngapaki Moetara will host this free, inclusive, intergenerational session at Te Papa on June 26 from 6pm. Numbers are limited so register.

The free Seven Sisters concert at the Wellington Opera House features Mere Boynton, Vanessa Stacey, Te Kahureremoa Taumata, Mo Ete, Adele Riwai, Keely Turuwhenua and Sianne Dougherty on June 30.

The Aki Kaa season in Wellington presents several plays, one of which – 2080 – is set in a chaotic and inhumane New Zealand of the future written by emerging playwright Aroha White (Ngapuhi), at Bats Theatre from June 6–20.

Contemporary artist, writer, performance poet and filmmaker Tracey Tawhiao will talk about her art in the Vogel Street precinct at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery at 2pm at on June 13, followed by a stroll to her installation.

And watch out for free one-day Matariki festivals in Dannevirke (June 5); Otane (June 12); Hastings (June 19); Miramar, Wellington and Napier (June 20), Dargaville (June 21); Wairoa (June 26); and Kerikeri (July 4), as well as markets in Whangarei (June 13); Kaikoura (June 27); Porirua (June 28); and a massive garage sale in Mangere (July 4).

Click here for info on national events, for Auckland events and Wellington events.

Overseas conferences

London: Lesbian Sexualities in the British World
The Menzies Centre for Australian Studies is hosting a one-day conference (Lesbian Sexualities in the British World: Historical Perspectives), Friday July 3.

It will explore how lesbian history has fared as an area of historical research across ‘the British World’: Australia, Britain, Canada, India, Aotearoa New Zealand, South Africa and elsewhere. It is hoped the symposium will establish research networks and a basis for further investigation and discussion. The conference organisers also aim to publish a selection of conference papers.

Contact Rebecca.Jennings@mq.edu.au or a.oram@leedsbeckett.ac.uk.

New York city: Gay American History @ 40Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer History: Past, Present, Future
This conference, May 5-5, 2016, marks the fortieth anniversary of Jonathan Ned Katz’s Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A. It provides an opportunity for critical reflection on the book and on the international development of LGBTQ and heterosexual history.

The call for papers goes to daniel.marshall@deakin.edu.au by the end of August 2015. Details at http://outhistory.org/.

Wellington Council edges towards a living wage

Wellington City councillors have voted 9-5 to budget $750,000 in the their long term plan to enable workers employed by their contractors to be paid a living wage from 2016.

Living wage supporters aucklandThis year the living wage – enough to allow a worker to pay for necessities and participate in community life – is $19.25 an hour, one-third more than the minimum wage. The campaign is led by and will benefit women, who overall earn $4 an hour less than men, with Māori and Pasifika women on average earning less than Pākehā women.

The vote came after a two-month campaign by the Living Wage coalition of groups, whose lobbying led the council to become the first in the country to commit to the concept in 2013.

The coalition’s next move will be a Mop March to the council on June 24 in support of low-paid contract cleaners and recycling workers.

Auckland Council has been more resistant; its chief executive last month overruled a local board resolution that a new contractor at the Mt Albert Aquatic Centre should pay their staff a living wage.

The Living Wage movement is a network of faith-based, union and secular community groups; pictured are Auckland members with Living Wage co-ordinator Annie Newman, bottom right. Aucklanders in member groups can attend a community training session from 5-8pm on Wednesday June 24 (with soup) at 35 George St, Kingsland.

See www.livingwage.org.nz.

News From All Over

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

Thumbs up
Spare Rib (UK feminist magazine) now on line
The British Library has made all 239 editions of the magazine (published 1972 to 1992) available on their online archive. As with the Aotearoa New Zealand publication Broadsheet, lesbians were involved in the magazine’s production, and were positive subjects in content. It’s searchable (“lesbian” in Article Title gives 71 hits) but depending on the power of the device you are using, you may find it a bit slow to respond.

Additionally, the British Library is hosting a curated Spare Rib website, showcasing 300 selected pages, along with articles from contributors and activists about the magazine, its history and influence. Searching “lesbian” here gives 21 hits.

Black lesbian activist Linda Bellos critiqued and challenged the focus on “white middle-class women”; read her British Library article and links to the first of a series of articles on racism (issue 115, February 1982).

Greenland: unanimous approval for same-sex marriage and adoption
Greenland (population 56,000) introduced discrimination protection for lesbians and gays in 2008, and held its first gay pride event in 2010. A new law, providing for marriage and adoption rights for same-sex couples, comes into effect in October 2015.

Kazakhstan drops anti-gay bill
The Senate (upper house) of Kazakhstan, population 17 million (70% Muslim, 26% Christian), passed a bill in February 2015, which would ban the “promotion of homosexuality”. It has been dropped, officially because the wording was vague and “counter to the constitution”. The suggestion is that it is more likely a careful move to position the country to bid for the Winter Olympics in 2022, avoiding the widespread negative publicity experienced by Russia. Homosexuality was legalised in 1998.

Mozambique: homosexuality legal, no protection against discrimination
Mozambique’s new penal code comes into effect this month, with homosexuality no longer illegal. The previous code referred to people “who habitually engage in vices against nature.” While the new code does not include any anti-discrimination provisions, decriminalisation is still positive and remarkable in a country of 24 million people, of whom 55% are Catholic, Zionist Christian or Evangelical, and 18% Muslim.

Vienna: ‘gay’ traffic lights for Eurovision song contest
reuters traffic lights viennaAustria was the 2015 host of the song contest celebrated as high camp every year. Ahead of the event, traffic lights in Vienna featured dancing gay and lesbian couples holding hands, with hearts above them. The City Council has confirmed the lights will remain, in spite of the right-wing Austrian Freedom party saying they will make a criminal complaint.

Ireland: same-sex marriage referendum
As everyone knows, the Irish referendum was overwhelmingly in favour, so legislation is now to be drafted. In the wake of the world’s first ever popular approval of same-sex marriage, it’s not too late to mock the opposition, thanks to the work of Pink News (note, some of the 10 reasons are more disturbing than funny).

Thumbs down
Sexual identity shift early in life tied to depression
Analysis of data from a large US study (the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health with over 11,200 respondents) shows that a sexual identity change toward same-sex attraction may continue to be a stressful life event despite society’s increasing acceptance of LGBT people. not just for adolescents, but also for young adults

Poland refuses action on civil partnerships
The Polish Parliament voted against having a debate on the regulation of civil partnerships, gay or straight. Civil partnerships would allow couples to pay income tax jointly, and provide for the right to inheritance and for social security benefits as a result of a death.

Nearly 90% of the country’s 38.5 million population are Roman Catholic.

Ngā tāngata, People

Of libraries and yarn bombing
Sydney Abbott dies

Of libraries and yarn bombing

Lilac Mari North 20th 2014The Lesbian Information, Library and Archives Centre (LILAC) in Wellington for women-oriented women has been open almost continuously since September 17, 1994. It’s now housed in the second floor of 187 Willis St in the city, and is open on Wednesdays from 5.30-7.30pm, Thursdays and Saturdays 11am-2pm. LILAC collective member Mari North, left, spoke with Jenny Rankine about its history and future.

Wellington dykes will notice a change in the Willis St streetscape outside Lilac on June 11 – to celebrate International Yarn Bombing Day, members of Lilac’s Monday night Stitch and Butch group will wrap a council bench outside the library in shades of knitted and crocheted purple yarn.

The library runs like a “well-oiled machine” with around 70 members, says Mari, and the light rooms in Willis St have enabled the collective to run other events. These include lesbian speed dating about four times a year. “We always get lots of women – generally they just make friends,” says Mari.

They’re also investigating film screenings, including the 2010 documentary Intersections about intersex advocate Mani Bruce Mitchell. “We’ve had a call to screen Pride about the connection between London LGBT activists and Welsh miners.”

The group is also planning a garage sale of used books in the next couple of months, ones they didn’t sell at their annual Out in the Park fundraising bric-a-brac and used book stall. The collective is investigating drawing classes with a local artist, and plans to host another community dance at a bigger venue. “We hope to act like a lesbian centre with fun events”, says Mari. The group recently attracted 40 lesbians to “a very popular games evening”, and Mari “really enjoyed hosting the Charlotte Museum, we got over 20 people”.

Lilac Banner 2015Mari describes Lilac as a successful library, with added events that make best use of the rooms and “entice women along. The average age of our members is dropping as we’ve become more relevant to women who don’t identify strictly as lesbian.” The website says membership is open “to lesbians and queer-identified/women-oriented women (i.e. women who form their primary relationships with women)”, and members decide this for themselves. “How women identify is an ongoing discussion”, Mari.

Mari was at Lilac’s opening day and on the early collective, but was away for some years. “When I came back five years ago, I joined the book group. “It meets monthly and there’s always good cake! Sometimes we pick a genre from Lilac, like memoirs, or new books just to check that we’re buying relevant ones. Last month we read about transitioning, and this month we’re reading Renée.”

The library started not long after some lesbian premises and business had been firebombed in Wellington. “It was started by librarians Linda Evans and Glenda Gale, and it was pretty heretical at the time, a brave operation – we did have to be careful,” says Mari.

The earliest room was part of a counsellor’s office in the Terrace and the books were covered with old curtains when it became a counselling room. “People donated lots of books, it was very popular and the rooms were crowded,” says Mari. “We came to hang out with each other, not just swap our books.”

“The collective has been an incredibly loyal bunch; some have been involved for the whole time.” Two members died within the last year; Porleen Simmonds, who had been involved for 20 years, “so that was very sad for us. We also launched Pat Rosier’s last book, Where the heArt is; she had been on the collective at various times, ran a writing group for us, and was a big part of book group too. We miss her terribly.”

lilac logoOnce a month, Lilac members take two suitcases of books, magazines and DVDs to the Kapiti Coasters’ Dinner, where they can swap and sign up. Mari says the majority of members are middle-class Pākehā women but she says women of colour make a higher proportion of members than their share of the population.

Lilac is funded largely by the Arthur and Armstrong Charitable Trust for lesbians, and its own fundraising. Members pay an annual fee on a sliding scale; $20 if they earn up to $27,000, the cost of a magazine; $40 for incomes up to $40,000, the cost of a paperback; and $60 for those earning over $40,000. See the website.

Lesbian activist Sidney Abbott died April 2015

SidneyAbbottSidney Abbott was one of the important figures in US lesbian liberation and visibility. She co-authored Sappho was a right-on woman: A liberated view of lesbianism (first published in 1972) and was an outspoken member of the National Organization of Women, advocating for lesbians as well as women.

From times when splits between straight and lesbian feminists were very acrimonious, Abbott was noted as someone who brought women together. See a short entry in Wikipedia and an obituary in the Windy City Times.

Te ao pāpāho, Media

Two views of Carol Ann Duffy
Faerie Tales exhibition
I’m not a joke

Two perspectives on Carol Ann Duffy

If you were lucky enough to be in Auckland for the 2015 Writers Festival and to get tickets to one (or two) Carol Ann Duffy events, you will already know how extraordinary she is. (If you weren’t able to get to her “in discussion with …” session, you can read the Auckland Libraries blog post).

Duffy Carol AnnIf you are the mother of young children, or have young children in your family or friendship circles, you may be familiar with or interested in her picture books (The Tear Thief, Moon Zoo, or Underwater Farmyard, amongst others) or titles for older children (The oldest girl in the world (poetry), Doris the Giant).

And if you are a poet, or keen on reading poetry, you will of course know the work of the UK’s Poet Laureate. If you haven’t already done so, listen to her reading/performing six of her poems on the Poetry Archive website.

Duffy is prolific (Auckland Libraries offer over 30 separate entries, books and e-books), imaginative and sharp. Her poetry can be on the day-to-day or profound, or both. She prefers her work to be read and judged on its own merits: she doesn’t have an active website or social media presence; nothing obvious on Facebook or Twitter. You can read about her on Wikipedia, the Scottish Poetry Library, the Poetry Foundation and from Jeanette Winterson.

The World’s Wife is now a dramatic presentation as well as book of poems. Duffy is not the first person to consider what kind of life the wife of a great historic man might have had, or what a great life might have been if the protagonist was female instead of male. But she’s the first to create poetic works around a huge collection of actual and fictional histories, to show us what is, what has been, and what might have been. First published in 1999, look for the 2015 edition with a foreword by Jeanette Winterson.

Duffy ritual lightningRitual Lighting is one of several volumes that have come out of her role as Poet Laureate. Incorrectly, although understandably, described as “a beautifully illustrated collection of poems”, this is a book of art works, with accompanying poetry that will make you smile, gasp, cry.

Buy or borrow Duffy’s works; gift them or lend them to your friends.


Poetic Justice: Carol Ann Duffy at the
Auckland Writers’ Festival

You wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of her, I came away thinking at the end of an hour with Carol Ann Duffy. If you offended her she might put you in a poem, as she did with Messrs Midas, Herod, Aesop et al. In one way or another, those chaps all got their come-uppance at her hands.

Duffy World's WifeThey are characters in her very popular collection The World’s Wife (1999), which presents their wives’ point of view. The audience heard Mrs Midas set out the king’s stupidity in wishing for a golden touch, Mrs Tiresias tiring of her man’s inability to manage once he accidentally became a woman.

Mrs Tireaias eventually – now here’s a spoiler – introduced her lover to her still-female former husband and watched the way ‘he’ (the husband) stared

at her violet eyes,
at the blaze of her skin,
at the slow caress of her hand on the back of my neck

The World’s Wife has received particular attention in New Zealand, where Fiona Samuel adapted it for the theatre (2002) and then took it on a national tour. A return of the stage show in this year’s Auckland Writers’ Festival featured Carol Ann Duffy herself among the actors. Both performances sold out, and the conversational event I attended (number 69 of the festival) also seemed full.

Duffy exacted her revenge on those inconsiderate men centuries after their legendary acts, lending weight to the idea that revenge is best served cold. On the other hand, we heard that in 2008 she had an almost immediate and very effective riposte for an examinations invigilator from Lutterworth Grammar School, who complained about a poem that was on the English syllabus.

Soon after Pat Schofield’s complaint, an examinations board removed Duffy’s ‘Education for Leisure’ from said syllabus due to increased sensitivity about knife crimes (its opening words are “Today I am going to kill something.”) Duffy penned ‘Mrs Schofield’s GSCE’, and the next year was named UK poet laureate.
She read the retaliatory poem in her writer’s festival session with John Campbell. It’s short and to the point about violence in Shakespeare: if you thought it impossible to make a poem from exam questions you’d be wrong.

Duffy gospelsJust when that topic of conversation seemed exhausted, the poet laureate had the last word. “Cow,” she said of the hapless invigilator, almost under her breath. The audience caught it and laughed.

Carol Ann Duffy has been variously lauded as the first poet, in the 350-year tradition of British laureate appointments, to be female / Scottish / lesbian. But she is famously not a fan of labels, nor of telling us about herself. “I’m keen for people to read my poems but not necessarily to read me,” she told John Campbell.

From a Kim Hill interview broadcast the previous day we learned that Duffy has Irish ancestry as well as Scottish, that she left Glasgow to live in England at about six, and that she feels “very connected to all three of those countries… I’m probably one of the few people in the UK who would call themselves British.” On Scottish independence she could see “both sides” of the argument, “as always seems to happen in my life: perhaps it’s to do with being a poet.”

Neither Kim nor John was foolish enough to ask about her sexuality – she didn’t raise it either – but seeing “both sides” seems relevant there, too. She’s been with men as well as with women. At least one of each gender was a poet (Adrian Henri and Jackie Kay, both long-term partners).

Duffy has variously said “it’s fantastic that I’m an openly gay writer” and “I’m not a lesbian poet, whatever that is”. Both comments are open to misinterpretation, but the context (a 2009 press conference after her laureate appointment; her 2005 Times interview with Jeanette Winterson) shows that the first relates to modern acceptance of sexual diversity and the second to reductionist labels. The statements don’t contradict each other.

Carol Ann Duffy has long been an icon for some of us – a lesbian icon, something she’s said she’s perfectly happy about. I’ve waited more than a decade for her to come to our shores: when I knew of her relationship with Jackie Kay, I fervently wished that the festival would bring them both at the same time.
Now they’ve been, but in different years. For me at least, the experience has been not just worth the wait but better for it.

Each poet’s time has come. People have been ready to listen and to hear each in her own right, and sexuality has been no barrier.

Carol Ann Duffy came in a kind of glory, as UK poet laureate. But both of these queer women created a huge buzz here, with one (Jackie Kay, 2013) described as the festival’s great discovery and the other (Carol Ann Duffy, 2015) as the greatest treasure in a festival rich with treasures.

Claire Gummer

Faerie Tales photography exhibition

FaerieTales RebeccaSwanCurated by queer photographer Rebecca Swann, Faerie Tales opens at 6pm on Tuesday May 5 in Snakepit Gallery, 33 High St in Auckland city, and runs until June 18 as part of the Auckland Festival of Photography.

The opening night features performances from 9-9.30pm that extend the themes of the exhibition.
Rebecca’s own interactive photographic installation and video work, with composer Charlotte Rose, sits alongside two photographic series by Katy Jo Carter and Melanie Church, paintings by Kestin Stewart and Eli Orzessek and comic art by Sam Orchard.

Joe Macdonald says the exhibition focuses on relationships and connections, and a “fascination with bodies, narratives, intimacy, power, and relationships. Desire and pleasure are present, but not easily consumed: the viewer is unsettled and yet simultaneously invited to savour the experience.”

See Rebecca’s blog for details.

I’m not a joke

These images are from the I’m not a joke (No soy tu chiste) series by Venezuelan art activist Daniel Arzola. He started the posters in 2013 and they now number more than 60; the campaign went viral in Venezuela and is now available in Spanish, Portuguese and English. See nosoytuchiste.tumblr.com/.

Rātaka takatāpui/Dyke Diary for Pipiri / June 2015


Friday 12 National Day of Silence in schools about the silencing and bullying of LGBTT people. Day of SilenceSee the website, post your photo on the Selfies for Silence page, and download resources to plan the day in your school.

Auckland/Tamaki Makaurau

Monday 1 Gayby Baby, 2.15pm, 85 minutes. In Documentary Film Festival, Q Theatre, 305 Queen St. General admission $17, discounts available. Gayby Baby follows the lives of four kids – Gus, Ebony, Matt and Graham – whose parents all happen to be gay.

Sunday 7 Dyke Hike Long Bay South, North Shore, going south along the beach, about 3 hrs. Meet at the entrance to the Long Bay car park. Grade: Easy (okay in strong walking shoes, not many hills, good tracks). Email hike@lesbian.co.nz, www.lesbian.co.nz.

Tuesday 9 Straight Talking on Rainbow Rights 5.30 – 7.30pm, University of Auckland, MLT2 Maths & Science Building, Building 303, 38 Princes Street. Amnesty International invites you to attend a LGBTI Panel Discussion with three amazing members of our Rainbow Community who came to New Zealand as refugees.

Rush14Saturday 20 Rush 14 women’s dance 7-11.30pm, Ceramco Park Function Centre, 120 Glendale Rd, Glen Eden, with DJ Kel. $15 presale (Women’s Bookshop – cash only), $20 door sales, no BYO, small cash bar.

Saturday 20 Fifth Season GLBT Garden Group mid-winter dinner 7pm, 74 Gribblehurst Rd, Sandringham, $30, sumptuous buffet catered by South Spit Roast, includes dessert and refreshments. Chat with more than 40 keen gardeners. BYO drinks and $5 for three chances in several raffles drawn on the night. Booking essential; email Ron rjudd@pl.net and phone Wendy Wilson, 525-2666, for more details.

Sunday 21 Coffee & Stroll 10am, coffee at Charlie & George, 40 Stonefields Ave, Mt Wellington; 10.30am, stroll around the market (AMI Netball Centre carpark), with an optional stroll around the Stonefields subdivision and/or Mt Wellington Maungarei.

Sunday 21 The Foxy Merkins film fundraiser for Auckland Women’s Centre, lesbian comedy, 7pm for 7.30pm screening. Capitol Cinema, 610 Dominion Rd, Balmoral. Tickets $20 or $25 with a glass of wine or ice cream, from 376 3227 x 0, email info@womenz.org.nz or from the Women’s Bookshop, 105 Ponsonby Rd (cash only).

Saturday 27 Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom Matariki/winter solstice lunch, 12noon, Friends Meeting House,113 Mt Eden Rd, Mt Eden, open to all women, disability accessible. RSVP to Joan Macdonald, joanmac@pl.net or 360 8001.

GALS H&SSaturday 27 GALS Heart and Soul concerts 3.30pm and 7.30pm, Freemans Bay Community Hall, 52 Hepburn St, Auckland. Presales $25 adults, $10 children from the Women’s Bookshop, 105 Ponsonby Rd (cash only); door sales, if available, $30/$10 or email tickets@gals.org.nz See www.gals.org.nz.

Sunday 28 Let’s face it Opening of exhibition of Fran Marno’s older lesbian faces, up close and powerful, 2pm, Charlotte Museum, koha, refreshments, 8a Bentinck Street, New Lynn, also open Wednesdays 11-3 and Sundays 1-4pm.

Waikato/Central North Island

Glow concert
Friday 5 Lesbian Social Group Friday night drinks 6pm, Nivara Lounge, Basement 266 Victoria St (beside Wilson car park), underground retro lounge with background music and art on the walls, coffee/beer/wines, food.

Saturday 6 Glow Singers’ mid-year concert 4pm St Stephen’s Presbyterian Church hall, corner of Mahoe St and Ohaupo Rd, Melville, Hamilton. Entry by donation. Raffle and light refreshments afterwards.

Sunday 14 Lesbian morning tea women from out of town welcome. 10.30am, Grindz Cafe, 50 First Ave, Tauranga.

charlotteSunday 14 Charlotte Yates North Island Tour featuring Gil Eva Craig7.30pm, 4th Wall Theatre New Plymouth $30, book: www.4thwalltheatre.co.nz 0800 484 925

Tuesday 16 Charlotte Yates North Island Tour featuring Gil Eva Craig 7.30pm, Dome Room, Poverty Bay Club, Gisborne, $25, book Aviary/PBC

Wednesday 17 Charlotte Yates North Island Tour featuring Gil Eva Craig 7pm, Tauranga Art Gallery, $20/$25, book Tauranga Art Gallery

Friday 19 Charlotte Yates North Island Tour featuring Gil Eva Craig 7.30pm, Kauaeranga Hall, $18/ $20, book text 021 912 993, kauaerangahallmusic@gmail.com or Lotus Realm, 714 Pollen St, Thames.

GALS coroSaturday 20 GALS concert 2pm, Coromandel Citizens Hall, Kapanga Rd, Coromandel township. Tickets $25/$20 at Coromandel Information Centre and at the door. Presented by the Coromandel Music Society.

Sunday 21 Lesbian Social Group Brunch 10am, Joe’s Garage, 6 Bryce St, Hamilton, please RSVP by 18 June to Karen 0274-967698 , karen.wilson@xtra.co.nz

Tuesday 23 Charlotte Yates North Island Tour featuring Gil Eva Craig 7pm, Senior Citizens’ Hall, King St, Opotiki, $22/ $10, book Travel Shop.

Wellington/Te Whanganui-a-Tara

Friday 5 Gayby Baby, 6pm, 85 minutes. In Documentary Film Festival, The Roxy Cinema, 5 Park Rd, Miramar. General admission $17, discounts available. Gayby Baby follows the lives of four kids – Gus, Ebony, Matt and Graham – whose parents all happen to be gay.

Friday 5 Speed dating 6.30-8pm, LILAC Lounge, second floor, 187 Willis St, find new friends and have fun. Matches will be made within 48 hours – guaranteed! Choose either ‘friend’ or ‘date’. BYO drinks, light supper provided, $12. Limited numbers so register early at lilacevents14@gmail.com

Saturday 6 To Russia With Love, 6.45pm, 90 minutes. In Documentary Film Festival, The Roxy Cinema, 5 Park Rd, Miramar. General admission $17, discounts available. Leading up to the Olympics in Sochi, a law was passed in Russia banning promotion of “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations”. Narrated by Jane Lynch, with tennis champ Billie Jean King meeting teen activist Vladislav Slavskiy.

Tuesday 9 Gayby Baby, 1.45pm, 85 minutes. In Documentary Film Festival, The Roxy Cinema. General admission $17, discounts available.

Friday 12 To Russia With Love, 7pm, 90 minutes. In Documentary Film Festival, The Roxy Cinema. General admission $17, discounts available.

Saturday 13 Gayby Baby, 3.45pm, 85 minutes. In Documentary Film Festival, The Roxy Cinema. General admission $17, discounts available.

Sunday 14 Lesbian Overland & Cafe Club Colonial Knob, Porirua. Meet at the Camp Elsdon entrance to the track in a cul-de-sac off Rahia St, Porirua at 10.20-ish. See the Overlanders page for details.

Sunday 14 To Russia With Love, 2pm, 90 minutes. In Documentary Film Festival, The Roxy Cinema. General admission $17, discounts available.

South Island/Te Wai Pounamu

Wednesday 3 Pool @ Shark Club from 5.30pm, Shark Club, 132 Bridge St, Nelson. Details from tlconnection.link@gmail.com

Wednesday 10 Games Night from 6.30pm, Prince Albert Hotel, 113 Nile St, Nelson. Details from tlconnection.link@gmail.com

Sunday 14 Brunch/Lunch from 11am, Lambretta’s, 204 Hardy St, Nelson. Details from tlconnection.link@gmail.com

Wednesday 17 Pool @ Shark Club from 5.30pm, Shark Club, 132 Bridge St, Nelson. Details from tlconnection.link@gmail.com

Sunday 21 Brunch/Lunch from 11am, Toad Hall, Lower High St, Nelson. Details from tlconnection.link@gmail.com

Wednesday 24 Games Night from 6.30pm, Prince Albert Hotel, 113 Nile St, Nelson. Details from tlconnection.link@gmail.com

Saturday 27 Wild Women Winter Walking, Orokonui estuary, Dunedin . For those wanting a longer walk there is the Orokonui sanctuary perimeter walk.

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

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