Our Poutū-te-rangi update – all items collected in one page!
Annual Proud to Play in Auckland
Charlotte’s Auckland dinner and White Night
Waikato research on queer sport
Wellington Pride Festival / Tū whakahīhī e Te Whanganui-a-Tara
Women’s participation in ILGA conference
Wellington Shift Youth Hui
New events for Christchurch Pride
Dunedin books and walks
Gay Ski Week QT growing
Auckland Pride events
Photos by Andrea
More than 450 athletes came from France, Germany, Cambodia, USA and Australia to join New Zealand athletes in a range of sports competitions as part of Proud to Play (PtP), the first multi-sport competition to be part of the Auckland Pride Festival.
Volunteer organiser Craig Watson said that “making sure it was driven by existing sports groups” was the key to the event’s success. The feedback I received about the opening ceremony was fantastic – international participants really liked the powhiri from Māori and found it a very spiritual occasion.”
He has already discussed with Pride co-chair Kirsten Sibbit what PtP could look like as an annual part of the Pride Festival: “It could be an open day or demonstrations for some sports. The ocean swim will always happen, we can organise a road run and the touch tournament is simple to run again. We wouldn’t expect such an international audience, more of a national competition.”
“We would love to see an understanding between Auckland Pride, who have access to corporate sponsors and marketing, and PtP. Sport is big in New Zealand – we want to work with Pride to get corporate sponsors that benefit both of us.” PtP received small amounts of funding from the Gay Auckland Business Association Charitable Trust, the Rule Foundation, the Sky City Auckland Community Trust, the ASB Trust and Auckland Council.
Organisers learnt a lot from this first Auckland rainbow multi-sports festival. “We need to engage teams a lot sooner so that we can have a bigger competition,” says Craig. We opened registrations late, so we only gave ourselves 12 days to finalise what events were and weren’t running. We relied on Facebook and our website to get information out, but we missed a lot of people. If you ticked interested on our Facebook page for an event and we cancelled it, you would have received a cell phone notification, but a lot of people didn’t engage with our social media.”
Craig and other volunteers plan to create a database of rainbow sports teams around the country, as well as contacting sports groups that weren’t part of PtP or had too few registrations this year – including netball, lawn bowls, golf, softball – much earlier. “PtP will apply for more funding during the year; we hope to employ someone for administration for a day or so a week.”
“We’d also like to do work with and support rainbow sporting events and representation in other Pride festivals around the country.” This includes restarting a Team Auckland umbrella rainbow sport organisation and “have it run by existing sports clubs like the Chargers, Falcons, Team Auckland Masters Swimmers, the Auckland Gay Bowling Organisation and others.”
Wellington already has a Rainbow Sport and Culture Weekend, which could use the Proud to Play branding. Craig hopes to work with Team Wellington, support the establishment of a Team Christchurch and link them to a Proud to Play Trust, “so that website is the main site for LGBTTI sport in NZ. We’d put the database up so anyone can find all the sporting groups in a particular region.”
The Charlotte Museum of lesbian culture is hosting a new event – an international potluck dinner with facilitated talking and discussion under the carport outside the museum at 8a Bentinck St, New Lynn, Auckland.
The dinner on Tuesday 8 celebrates International Women’s Day with women talking about their lesbian identities from several different cultural and ethnic minority perspectives. Drinks and nibble start at 6.30pm and the dinner from 7pm. Participants are asked to bring a contribution to the meal. RSVP to Cissy Rock on firstname.lastname@example.org or 021 964 884. Volunteers are welcome to help organise. There will be a comedy performance about being a coloured lesbian in South Africa; Ellie Lim will talk about her NZ Chinese experience, and Preetika her young Indian perspective. Cissy hopes the talks will stimulate more sharing discussion.
As part of the Auckland Arts Festival White Night on Saturday 12 the Charlotte Museum and gallery will be open from 6pm until midnight, along with many other museums and galleries around the region. The evening will include a slide show of lesbian posters, lezzie tunes on vinyl, a dance performance at 8pm and a fire display at 10pm, and refreshments.
Room to rent
An office space at the museum is available for a practitioner or small business, including use of a meeting room most days. Rent is approximately $80. Text 021 157 3304, email email@example.com or see the website.
Participants at Proud to Play (PtP) sports events during the Auckland Pride Festival will have noticed a group of 10 volunteers in white PtP t-shirts interviewing participants at PtP and Pride events. The research group from Te Whare Wananga o Waikato/University of Waikato and the University of Wollongong in Australia expect to report to the Pride Board and PtP organisers in about a month with initial summary about interviewees and respondents to their iPad survey. They hope it will be posted on the PtP Facebook page.
The group was led by two human geography professors, lesbian Lynda Johnston at Waikato and gay man Gordon Waitt, who have been studying sexuality, gender, sport, place and tourism, often together, for 20 years. One of the team – also queer identified – is from a rainbow family, and scored a try as a last-minute participant in touch rugby. Most of the students were from the University of Wollongong.
“We didn’t ask anyone to identify their sexuality; however, they were all were trained to research an LGBTTI event, and be sensitive when interviewing and understanding LGBTTI communities. All researchers read and discussed queer and feminist geographical research and concepts.”
The project aimed to understand the importance of Proud to Play in individual and group identities and sports and how it affects participants’ well-being and sense of community.
Lynda said the group interviewed 63 PtP participants, “at every event except badminton, tennis and bridge. We also collected about 200 surveys on iPads at the BGO and the Parade,” and have research diaries from several team members who participated in events, including the Stand Out Youth Hui.
Lynda says that the 26 female-identified people described themselves in a range of ways – “10 said lesbian, two lesbian and dyke, four gay women, two queer female, one queer punk female, one bi female, one heterosexual female, and one female – a diverse way of expressing sexual identity.” In contrast, the men gave a much narrower range of identities: “35 men identified as gay male; one as a gay poofter male; and one as a homosexual male.”
On the surface, she says, “there wasn’t much gender diversity among PtP participants; netball wasn’t held so we missed out on fa’afafine netball; and probably the most gender diversity was to be seen at the roller derby event.”
Most of the interviewees were from New Zealand, almost all from the Auckland region, plus four from Wellington, one from Christchurch, and three from regional centres. The rest were largely from Australia, with two from the USA.
Although Lynda says that it’s “very early days in trying to make sense of what people told us”, she says they received “a clear indication of the importance of events like PtP for people’s sexual and gender identity. People said things like: ‘It wasn’t until I joined ten-pin bowling that I realised I could find other people like me’.”
“We’re pleased to hear that these sporting events have been crucial to feelings of community for sexual minorities. As a team of geographers we’re very interested in how queer events transform place from very heteronormative to sexually diverse, where we belong and where we are being represented. It’s very important for people who are questioning their identity and trying to find where they might fit in,” she says.
“Sport is a way to fit in without being too intense about sexual politics. Throughout the event there was a discourse about it being open to everyone, no matter what their gender or sexuality.”
Lynda found roller derby the most female-centred sporting event. “There were lots of incredible team displays, entertainment, competition and camaraderie. Big women’s bodies were celebrated, female-centred gender was celebrated. People talked about using different identifiers for sexuality, being open to other ways of identifying themselves, with queer, punk, dyke, lesbian, gay, bi – lots of different identities.”
Lynda says after the initial report, it will take a year to analyse the interviews before they can be reported in LNA, other queer media, at geography conferences and academic articles. “We were really delighted with the way people responded to the research team. We want to bring their voices back to the communities.”
Gordon has studied the Gay Games, sexuality in surfing and lesbians moving back home; and Lynda did her PhD on the Hero and Mardigras festivals in the late 1990s. Using the lens of tourism, she’s studied World Pride Roma, and has written about her own experience performing in a women’s drumming group in Pride Scotland in 2007.
Lynda has also studied and written about Gay Ski Week (GSW) Queenstown as a unique queer tourism event in Aotearoa. She first went to GSW in 2010, “when it was run by a couple of gay guys and the vast majority of participants were gay men. I went back in 2012 and 2013, when it was restarted by a couple of lesbians and there were a bigger proportion of women participants.” In one of those visits, Lynda broke her arm skiing at Cardrona. “While Queenstown has a cosmopolitan sense of place it’s also very rural and there real differences between Gay Ski Week and Proud to Play.”
An opening ceremony at Parliament on Saturday March 5 will commemorate the 30th anniversary of Homosexual Law Reform (HLR) and launch the Wellington Pride Festival/ Tū whakahīhī e Te Whanganui-a-Tara, which runs to Sunday 13.
The festival includes several women-oriented events – two open sessions at the lesbian Lilac Library, two rape prevention workshops by Wellington Rape Crisis, a lesbian and queer comedy evening, a walk with the Lesbian Overland and Cafe Club, and a performance of jazz and blues songs by actor/singer Charlotte Chadwick.
There are a variety of mixed community events, many of which are free. Outdoor events include a giant Rainbow Pride Picnic on the Parliament lawn, a triathlon, pool party, Zealandia tour and bi-friendly and rainbow family picnics. The Wellington Pride Parade along the waterfront on Saturday 12 leads to the city’s iconic fair, Out in the Park at Waitangi Park.
Indoor events include board games, HLR documentary films, a quiz and karaoke night, a an ecumenical spiritual service, theatre and cabaret shows, and the three-day, inaugural ILGA Oceania Human Rights and Health Conference, Re-stoke the fires/Tāwhiritia ngā ahi, from Wednesday 9 to Saturday 12.
Human rights conference
Speakers include ILGA Executive Director, Renato Sabbadini; Professor William Spurling on how the persecution of lesbian and gay people during the Holocaust affects LGBTI communities now; and Helen Kennedy, Executive Director of Egale Canada Human Rights Trust and Co-Secretary General, ILGA World, speaking at the conference dinner.
Sessions include presentation of rainbow issues to a select committee; health and violence. A wide range of workshops on takatāpui, lesbian, queer Pacific, bisexual, intersex, femme, queer refugee, and older queer people’s issues; thriving as an activist; Pacific human rights; reproductive justice; suicide; queer communities and sex work; informed consent for sex; issues for counsellors, social workers, doctors, and allied health professionals; creating queer-friendly early childhood education and schools; diversity and inclusion training at work; climate change and rainbow communities; and queer life drawing.
The two lesbians on the Human Rights and Health Conference organising committee ensured lesbians’ and women’s voices would be heard at the conference, with a pre-conference half-day hui in February.
A pre-conference youth hui was also held; many of the participatants are at high school, so won’t be able to attend the main conference. A one-day pre-conference Trans* hui will be held on the day before the conference opens; this is an event exclusively for trans and intersex people.
Mari North and Sara Fraser were concerned that voices of lesbians and other women, would be absorbed into the general conference activity, and thereby become invisible. In spite of having little time or resource, an energetic and productive consultation ensued, with 12 diverse, vibrant and committed women participating.
An active brainstorming process saw 30-40 ideas generated, which are still being analysed. Formal feedback will be given in a 15-minute session at the Thursday operning plenary session, and two workshops during the conference.
Mari says a consistent theme was an emphasis on caring and community, and an intent to create and strengthen links and connections – for example, concerns about the wellbeing of disabled queer youth. This is consistent with the Proud conference committee’s desire to ensure intersectionality, so that, for example, trans issues are not just talked about by trans people. Also, says Mari, ‘mainstream queers’ (white cis lesbians and gays with jobs and health) have a responsibility to learn about the lives of others.
If you will be in Wellington on March 9-12, it’s not too late to attend. Registration numbers are good but the event is not sold out. See www.proud.org.nz for cost and location.
More than 100 young queer and gender diverse people are expected to attend InsideOUT’s annual Shift Hui in Wellington in April. Inside OUT’s Tabby Besley says proportions of female- and male-identified people have been “pretty equal in previous years”.
Hui workshops will include leadership and facilitation skills, healthy relationships, and being out at work, as well as more light-hearted things like crafting.
“This year’s Shift will have an afternoon on practical life skills,” says Tabby, “as many young rainbow people might not have an opportunity to learn cooking, gardening, sewing and how to change a tyre.”
Workshops will be streamed to accommodate larger numbers, a wider range of topics and opportunities for newcomers and those who have previously attended.
Workshops will also support participants to start diversity groups and queer-straight alliances in schools in their communities. The event is alcohol and drug-free; participants will sleep on the marae so need to bring a sleeping bag or duvet.
The hui will be held at Tapu Te Ranga Marae in Island Bay from Friday April 22 to Monday 25 and is open to people from around the country aged 13-22. The hui is free for those who cannot afford registration; otherwise a suggested koha for individuals is $25 or more, or $100 for those whose attendance is funded by a workplace or organisation.
Christchurch Pride Week gets bigger every year, says chairperson Jill Stevens, left. The week starts on Friday 18 with a one-night-only showing of 150 artworks from local and national rainbow and rainbow-friendly artists, with performances, drinks and nibbles. Canterbury writer Joe Bennett will also read from his acclaimed new book King Rich. The show starts at 6pm at the White Elephant Trust, 442 Tuam St.
On Tuesday 22, Lady Poets presents The struggle is real, an R18 “badass subversive poetry show” hosted by Wellington Drag King Hugo Grrrl. “It’s a fantastic regular event,” says Jill. “We don’t have any drag kings in Christchurch so we’re excited about the MC”.
Veggie Puffs, a long-running rainbow vegetarian dining group is hosting Veggie Thai Kai on Sunday 20. The two-course vegan/vegetarian dinner is $28 per person at Sema’s Thai Cuisine, Edgeware Mall, cnr Edgeware Rd and Sherborne St. RVSPs are essential by Wednesday 18 by email.
The 10-day festival includes a Sunday quiz night for the first time, says Jill. Participants can choose which of three LGBT groups they want to support and all proceeds will go to them. Other events include a rainbow picnic, Pride party, kayaking, a popular ‘anti-art’ drawing class, church service, gay bingo, and the week finishes with a Pride dinner & dance party on Easter Sunday night.
The organising group includes four women and three men, and aims for an inclusive family event of pride and visibility. “We try to bring all the tiny rainbow groups under one umbrella, so people who didn’t know they existed can get in touch,” says Jill. In previous years Jill has organised a Divas women’s dance party, “but Lick is on this week so we’re not doing that this year”.
The organisation has a new website this year; “we’ve worked hard to boost our reach on Facebook. We’re getting at least 100 more people following our page each week”.
Jill, who has a full-time job and two children, has been on the Pride committee for five years. “I really enjoy it, I love seeing the community come together. I’m very social and love meeting new people and finding people have really enjoyed a new event.” The committee meets fortnightly for most of the year and weekly running up to the event, and Jill estimates she puts in 20 hours a week running in the month beforehand.
“One of our members is a DJ and built the new website. She came last year and wasn’t happy with the DJ at one of our events, and is now DJing for most of the LGBT events.
The pulse of the city is picking up, as is our lesbian scene. The Wild Women Walking Group (WWW) attracted a large number this month, car-pooling to Elephant Rocks just west of Oamaru (left), and lunching at the Flying Pig Café in Duntroon. Elephant Rock is enhanced by remarkable shapes hewn from the famous Oamaru stone, as well as ancient Maori rock carvings.
While other cities may have rainbow pride festivities and international art festivals, we’re about to launch into the Fringe Festival, and Dunedin’s iconic iD Fashion month. It’s all part of the more edgy aspect of this place where off-the-wall creativity seems to thrive. I’ve been struck by the large number of artists and published authors in the lesbian community here.
The book Sexual cultures in Aotearoa New Zealand education was launched late last year by editors Lee Smith and Alexandra Gunn, and brought together very useful research on the heteronormativity of our primary and secondary school systems. In February a number of us attended a packed lecture at Otago University given by a visiting lesbian researcher, Professor Erica Chenoweth (below).
Recognised as ‘one of the top 100 thinkers’ for her work in international politics, she presented compelling research spanning all of last century on why civil resistance works, compared to violent resistance. Her data showed that non-violent resistance is 10 times more likely to succeed than violent resistance, in the short and long terms. It’s a very important message for our times.
Back to the local level, like any good lesbian community, there are enough Sues to form a decent hockey team, though there also seems to be a disproportionate number of lesbians in relationships with women the same name. I have no idea what that means.
I’ve also been noticing from recent postings on Facebook that this part of the world has become a very popular destination for a number of travelling lesbians from up north. At this rate, with the current hot weather Dunedin’s experiencing, NZ’s best-kept secret may be blown!
Organiser Sally Whitewood says Gay Ski Week QT, which runs from August 27 to September 3, will include two new events. “One is a party with a DJ on the Spirit of Queenstown on the water”; the catamaran fits 150 people. “We’re also hosting our first comedy night headlined by Neil Thornton”, a gay American comic based in Wellington. Cabaret with Caluzzi girls, final night party theme is heroes and villains.
Sally says that for the first time all the GSWQT events last year sold out on the night. “We could have had double the audience for the Caluzzi Queens cabaret, but we decided that it would lose too much in a larger venue so we’re running it again at the Skyline Restaurant for 180 people.”
Sally says that the proportion of women is increasing every year; last year out of 1,500 who came to one or more events, 23 percent were women. Sally runs and promotes the week to be inclusive of all genders and sexualities. “We also get a few straight people, especially to the final dance party and the cabaret night, because we don’t get much cabaret in Queenstown.” The theme of the final dance party this year is heroes and villains.
Sally wants to continue building the week, which she says is getting too big for one person to organise. She hopes eventually to have extra staff so she can spend more time with George, the nearly four-year-old son she shares with wife Mandy.
Reports and comments on other Pride events are welcome.
One of the most political events in Auckland Pride in 2016, consciously so, was the Decolonise Pride Poetry Slam. A first for the rainbow community, the judges were looking for passion, thought and political analysis, as much as experience.
Five competitors presented to a full house at The Thirsty Dog: a timed work in the first two rounds, and the three finalists presented a third piece each. The theme “decolonising pride” naturally attracted a range of interpretations. Works ranged from the intensely personally political (struggles with body acceptance pre- and post-transitioning for one trans participant, for example) to the broadly political (against marriage equality: “we didn’t want equality, we wanted liberation!”, said lesbian competitor Ky Selket).
Whaitiri M Mikaere (DieselDyke Poet) facilitated the event and performed some of her own poems. Kāren Hunter performed covers of David Bowie works.
This was a grassroots, self-funded event, which is in keeping with the concept of poetry slams. However, this was also because an application for financial support from GABA was declined on the grounds they funded other literary Pride events this year. Support did come from the Thirsty Dog and Unity Books, and judge Marewa Glover contributed books for the first three prize winners. Hopefully next year there will both be a second slam, and some more substantial funding.
Out and Loud
Five Australian choirs and three from Aotearoa presented a magnificent rainbow concert as part of the cultural side of Pride.
Hours of preparation in the weeks and months prior to Pride, plus intense work, workshopping and pop-up concerts in Auckland, resulted in an impressive event. Only one of the Australian choirs auditions members, with no compromise in quality of performance.
A massed choir of 200 singers bracketed individual and combined choir performances, opening with a work especially written for the event: Singing Out and Loud.
Australian choirs from Perth, Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane started the afternoon. They were followed by the New Zealand participants: Glamaphones from Wellington, three combined choirs including GLOW from Hamilton, ending with Auckland’s GALS before the massed choirs finished with There’s a place for us and an encore of Singing Out and Loud.
The repertoire included older and newer works, with a focus on love (Can’t help falling in love, Put a little love in your heart) and politics (It does get better, One voice). Of particular note was the Brisbane Pride Choir’s selection, ‘For our children’, which recognised indigenous history with Stolen Child, from Songs of Struggle and Hope.
GALS and their supporters and friends clearly put a lot of work into the whole four-day festival, as well as the smoothly running Saturday concert.
Hawaiian-based director, actor and student Kiki has written her first play, Puzzy, to “show that Pacific lesbians do exist”. She was in Auckland for the premiere during the Pride Festival.
Kiki 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.
Inspired 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!”
Kiki 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.
In Wellington for the Festival – specifically, Writers Week?? Then there are two ‘must see’ lesbian/queer women visiting from North America.
Mallory Ortberg has mostly published online (see The Toast) and has recently become online advice columnist Dear Prudence (Slate.com). Her first book, Texts from Jane Eyre And Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Characters is now in print.
Mariko Tamaki is a writer, performer and creator of graphic novels with her illustrator cousin, Jillian Tamaki. (Check reviews by Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian.)
Darlinghissima: Letters to a Friend
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.
Escaping 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
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 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 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?”
Intermittently 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.
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.
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: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0193820.html
- William Murray (2000). Janet, My Mother, and Me. New York: Simon & Schuster
- Matthew Likona (2000). Janet, My Mother, and Me; Letter from Del Mar
- Janet Flanner: The Writer in America film series
- Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal feud on the Dick Cavett Show (with Janet Flanner)
- The New Yorker, 85 from the Archive: Janet Flanner
- Danesi Murray; Publisher – Obituary
- Queer Old Things: Image, myth, and memory in 20th-century Paris
- Truth, Via Short Wave, Penetrates Listening Ban in Italy
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
Assessing Auckland Pride and Parade 2016
Auckland Pride Festival co-chair Kirsten Sibbit spoke with Jenny Rankine about the board’s view of the Pride Festival and Parade.
“We’re generally pleased with the festival, the quality and variety of shows,” says Sibbit. “I went to about nine events and was blown away by the quality. We brought together a great programme, and although we haven’t had detailed reports, attendances seemed good.”
Asked about how the board can improve the festival she said: “We can improve information sharing. We had a few teething problems getting stuff on the website, and it took longer than we thought. Next year we hope to get that up sooner.”
Sibbit says the board will ask for feedback on what was missing, on whether groups like students and young people who had previously found many events unaffordable had more opportunity to get involved.
“If there are gaps, we will try to encourage more events in those areas. Events will change year on year – it’s a lot of effort to put on an event and it can be difficult to put the same thing on every year.”
She’s had feedback about the small amount of events for lesbians, “but we need lesbians to organise things. We’ve had a couple of approaches for lesbian events next year. GABA have grants for people to organise events or parade entries – they funded a Rainbow Youth parade entry, and the Legacy 3 plays. We would love to offer funding support for small community groups, but we haven’t had the budget up to now.” She says the board hope to get more funding to do that.
Sibbit says the board is still debriefing, “trying to get feedback from festival event organisers, venues and parade participants – we’re not jumping to conclusions yet. We’ll look at how we can promote events better, and what we can provide for organisers who registrater for the festival and parade that we don’t already.”
When asked about the concentration of the festival in inner city Auckland, she agreed that it was limited. “We’re constrained by what venues are prepared to support these events, and where event organisers want to be. But we need to look at who our audiences are and how we can get events to them.”
About integrating the Proud to Play (PtP) sports festival she said: “We really enjoyed the sporting component, and Craig Watson did a fantastic job organising PtP; the opening ceremony was a great event. We really want to see it continue, but it takes a lot of organising and we haven’t had the debrief conversation. PtP requires quite a bit of funding on its own and we have a duty to look at that.”
“We liked the change of direction; having Western Park as a happy ending for parade participants worked really well. There were a good number of floats – over half were community groups. They were vibrant; participants made a lot of effort with colour and dance. Having the floats lined up and being finished on Ponsonby Rd meant there was lots of energy as people were getting ready. But on the rest of the road there wasn’t much going on; next year we’ll be trying to get more action before the parade.”
Sibbit was particularly proud of the drone-filmed live stream of the parade, organised by parade director Nick Davion, which “was watched by about 1000 people online. There was one big screen at Western Park where participants could watch rest of the parade after they’d finished. We want to provide more big screens on the route next year.”
The big issue in the Parade was the second protest by No Pride in Prisons (NPiP), who used the Parade space twice to protest at ongoing Department of Corrections violation of the human rights of trans prisoners. A small contingent of LGB Corrections staff marched in the Parade but not in uniform, unlike last year.
“It’s a tricky situation,” says Sibbit; “we expected some activity from NPiP. They have a legitimate right to protest – we didn’t want to stop them and didn’t want a repeat of last year when one member was injured. The police handled the protests well. Our commenter, Stefano, at the VIP grandstand talked with both lots of protesters, and so did others. The first group left peacefully and the second group had to be moved off.”
“We would like them to protest as part of the parade. There was a huge delay for spectators and participants; some participants took the opportunity to engage with the crowd at the Three Lamps end.”
Sibbits says the Pride board will “advise on and monitor an Action Plan that Corrections will make to improve living conditions for transgender people in prisons. We’ll bring in more experienced people than us and look forward to seeing a change over the course of this year. We’ve invited No Pride in Prisons (NPiP) to those discussions.”
“NPiP see [the Pride board’s] role differently to the way we see our role,” says Sibbit. “I understand the approach they take; I would love to see them not protest during the Parade because we end up disappointing thousands of people who come to see it.”
“The anecdotal feedback I’ve heard is that audience numbers were up on 2014,” says Sibbit. The combined count of participants and audience numbers is not yet available from ATEED for this year’s event; it increased slightly from 13,185 in 2014 to 13,885 in 2015.
“We’ve had our first debrief with ATEED; they think this year’s parade was an improvement. They understand that protest is tricky to deal with and has no easy solution.” ATEED says delays due to protest don’t affect their funding decisions.
“Operationally, ATEED, City services and the Police were pleased with how the Parade ran. Once it got started, the pace was good with few gaps,” Sibbit says.
After debriefing participants, venues and organisers, the board plans to run more general feedback hui at dates to be decided; “September or October like last year was a good time.”
Sibbit says that the majority of the board will stay on; “two people have resigned and we looking to fill those gaps.” The board is looking for people with a background in finance, communications, marketing, sponsorship and commercial partnerships, or event management, to serve for three years from March. Interested people can send a detailed CV and covering letter to firstname.lastname@example.org with a deadline of Friday, March 11.
“Being on the board takes up a lot of time; it’s not just a meeting once a month,” says Sibbit. “Democratising board selection could be a solution, providing those people know what they’re getting into.”
Sibbit expects Festival Director Ta’i Paitai and Parade Director Nick Davio to stay on for next year. She says the “general feeling is that things are moving in the right direction, that we can do better and we will improve next year. We’re still a young, growing festival, and there’s a lot we can do to push this forward.” See the call for board applicants on the website.
The second, third and fifth picture of Pride participants and audience members are by Andrea.
Wednesday 2 to Saturday 5 Dust To Dusky A tribute to Dusty Springfield, the queen of blue-eyed Soul, with Tami Neilson, Bella Kalolo and Anna Coddington, part of the Auckland Arts Festival. 8.15pm, Wednesday; 7pm, Thursday to Saturday. Tickets $46-$55.
Thursday 3, 4.20pm La Belle Saison (also Sunday 6, 6.30pm; Monday 7, 8.45pm; Wednesday 9, 2pm & 6.20pm; Saturday 12, 6.30pm) 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.
Sunday 6 Dyke Hike Mt Karioi, Raglan. Carpool to the Te Toto Gorge car park. From Raglan, take Wainui Rd which becomes Whaanga Rd, car park is off Whaanga Rd. About 5.5 hours. Grade: Hard (boots required, tracks may be rough, steep hills, reasonable fitness helps to enjoy these ones. If you are not an experienced hiker we require you to have completed two moderate hikes before you join us on a hike graded hard.) Email email@example.com, visit www.lesbian.co.nz or the Facebook page.
Tuesday 8 International Women’s Day with Disabled Women’s Forum, 2-4pm, CCS Disability Action, 14 Erson Ave, Royal Oak. A women’s, not lesbian event: celebrate the leadership of disabled women. Hear from long time disability advocate Martine Able and new business owner Marlene Hessing; enjoy an exhibition by Māpura Studios’ artists, a live musical performance and tours of the Dig It! Royal Oak Organic Garden. NZSL interpreters will be available. RSVP by March 4 to Kylie.Elsbury-Dawson@ ccsDisabilityAction.org.nz or 950 5672.
Tuesday 8 International Women’s Day lesbian women share from cultural and ethnic perspectives around the concept of lesbianism. Outdoor dining and a huge community meal – bring a meal to share in return for an entry ticket. 6.30pm, drinks and nibbles; 7pm, dinner and facilitated conversation. Visit the Facebook event page for details.
Wednesday 9 aLBa meeting: The place of permaculture in today’s challenging world, Ellen Schindler and Ricki Schmall are guest speakers. Usual time and place: Garnet Station, 85 Garnet Rd, Westmere, 6pm, $10 (members free). Followed by special event: garden visit, Saturday 12 (see below).
Saturday 12 aLBa garden visit, an RSVP event only as space is limited. To help us plan a successful event please indicate if you wish to be included (either send us an email or go to our Facebook page and let us know).
Saturday 12 to Saturday 16 April The Bill group show Fiona Clark and other artists were born into a legal system where LGBT identities were illegitimate, and witnessed changes that are part of an on-going global transformation. Artspace, Level 1, 300 Karangahape Rd, free. Open Tuesday – Friday 10am-6pm, Saturday 11am-4pm.
Tuesday 15 – Saturday 26 Veiqia Project exhibition Five Fijian women contemporary artists, including lesbian Luisa Tora explore Veiqia, the lost art of tattooing Fijian girls when they reach puberty. St Paul St Gallery 3, off Symonds St. See our news item.
Sunday 20 Coffee & Stroll 10am, meet for coffee at the Library cafe, 55 Princes St, Onehunga; 10.30am, a stroll around the new Onehunga foreshore walk (we will probably drive down Princes St and park on Beachcroft Ave): see birds and new beaches, dog-friendly (on-leash on the foreshore side, off-leash on the Onehunga Bay Reserve side), Jan Morrison tiles.
Sunday 20 Dykes on Mics 7pm, Garnet Station, 85 Garnet Rd, Westmere. Lesbians take the stage and perform. See Facebook event page for details and updates.
Sunday 30 Mosaic workshop, Charlotte Museum, 8 Bentinck St, New Lynn. 10am, $10. Learn how to mosaic or continue a piece you have been working on; some materials provided.
Please express interest or register at the Charlotte Museum on 550 7403 or 940 6503.
Wednesday 30 Queer/Lesbian/Bi/Trans Women’s Social night at the Auckland Women’s Centre 7-9.30pm, 4 Warnock St, Grey Lynn. Board games and book sale.
Wednesday 30 & Thursday 31 March Rock & Speir Encore Show 8pm, Garnet Station, 85 Garnet Rd, Westmere. $20/15.
Visit Facebook event page for details.
Waikato/Central North Island
Sunday 6 Dyke Hike Mt Karioi, Raglan. From Raglan, take Wainui Rd which becomes Whaanga Rd; carpark is off Whaanga Rd. About 5.5 hours. Grade: Hard (boots required, tracks may be rough, steep hills, reasonable fitness helps to enjoy these ones. If you are not an experienced hiker we require you to have completed two moderate hikes before you join us on a hike graded hard.) Email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit www.lesbian.co.nz.
Saturday 12, 4.20pm, La Belle Saison in New Plymouth 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.
Sunday 13 Lesbian Social Group brunch Joe’s Garage, 6 Bryce St (river end), Hamilton, 10am. Child-friendly venue.
Wednesday 16, 6.15pm, La Belle Saison in Tauranga 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.
Thursday 24 Pink drinks, Carterton (early because of easter): from 6.30pm, Buckhorn, off High St at the north end of town, near the roundabout, on Memorial Square. Plenty of parking nearby. All welcome, friendly crowd. You can get snacks or meals and the usual range of drinks/coffees. If you don’t see us in the main bar walk through to the room by the garden bar.
Thursday 24 Deco diva drinks, Hastings (early because of easter): 6.30pm, Down The Road, 201 Karamu Rd North, Hastings.
Saturday 26, 4pm, La Belle Saison in Hamilton 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.
Monday 28, 8pm, La Belle Saison in Palmerston North 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.
Wellington/ Te Whanganui-a-Tara
Anytime Self-guided LGBTTI walking tour of 24 historic rainbow locations around Wellington’s waterfront in one hour, free. Start at the former site of Carmen’s Balcony on the corner of Harris and Victoria Sts, now the City Library, walk through Civic Square, onto the waterfront, down to Bats Theatre and then back to the Michael Fowler Centre via Courtenay Place. Hear short eyewitness accounts at each location with your smart device using the interactive Google Map, or download the mp3 audio before you set off. See the website.
Wednesday 2 The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls 7pm (also Saturday 12, 7pm; Wednesday 23, 7pm; Thursday 24, 7pm), Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision, 84 Taranaki St, Te Aro. The country’s most popular documentary about the world’s only comedic, country singing, dancing and yodeling lesbian twins. $10/$8 from Eventfinda. See Facebook event page.
Friday 4 La Belle Saison 8.35pm 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.
Saturday 5-Sunday 13 Wellington Pride Festival/ Tū whakahīhī e te Whanganui-a-Tara, see the website.
Saturday 5 Rainbow Fun Triathlon Briefing 9.30am, start 10am, Freyberg Beach, 800m sea swim, 10km cycle and 5km run, with teams of up to three people. Free, registrations essential at www.dsw.org.nz by Feb 27. Rain Date: 10am, Sunday 6.
Saturday 5 LILAC Library Open Day 11am-2pm, L2, 187 Willis St. Lending library and women-and-children-only venue for book launches, speed dating, speakers. See the collections, join up and go home with a bag of goodies. Light refreshments available. See lilac.lesbian.net.nz for an online catalogue.
Saturday 5 A Gay Tour at Zealandia 1pm regardless of weather, with Des Smith, gay activist and trained Zealandia guide. Usual entry fee but tour is no extra cost. Good footwear essential, tours about 2.5 hours. Email email@example.com
Sunday 5 Queer Families Beach Picnic 2pm, Princess Bay, free. For queer families and their friends – all ages welcome. BYO picnic, some organised games but BYO; Look for the rainbow.
Saturday 5 Wellington Pride Opening Ceremony: Remembering the Homosexual Law Reform Era – 30 Years On Remembrance, celebration and looking to the future. 6-9pm, Banquet Hall, Beehive, NZ Parliament. Speeches from former MP Fran Wilde and others involved in HLR, and performances. 6-9pm, free. RSVPs were required by 26 February; see the Facebook page.
Sunday 6, 20 & 27 Pride Audio Collective audio training workshops 10am-12noon, Wellington Access Radio, 35-37 Ghuznee St. Learn how to record audio interviews in different locations and edit them with PrideNZ.com. No experience necessary. Free/koha, limited to six participants, book by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. See http://www.pridenz.com/pride_audio_collective_workshops.html
Sunday 6 Consent Craftivism workshop Wellington Rape Crisis/Wellington High School Feminist project crafting items for a rape awareness campaign and pieces for a street art campaign to raise awareness of drink spiking. No crafty skills necessary, suitable for all ages. Free/koha, 12.30-2.30pm, Wellington Rape Crisis, L2, Southmark House, 203-209 Willis St.
Sunday 6 Preventing Harm: Being an Ethical Bystander workshop Learn and practice techniques to prevent sexual violence, 12.30-2.30pm, Wellington Rape Crisis, L2, Southmark House, 203-209 Willis St. Presented by Sexual Abuse Prevention Network. Free/koha, bookings necessary, email email@example.com.
Sunday 6 The persecution of gay men and lesbians under the Third Reich, lecture by WWII queer history expert Professor William Spurlin, 5-7pm, Myers Hall, HCNZ, 80 Webb St.
Monday 7 Pride on Board 6pm, Preservatorium Café, 39 Webb St, Te Aro. A free, cosy and relaxing board games night, fundraiser for host InsideOUT. Games and game competitions provided, just bring your friends.
Tuesday 8 Giant Rainbow Pride picnic on the lawn at Parliament 12noon, free. Bring your fairybread, blanket, friends and family and help celebrate the anniversary of the first reading of the Bill – 8 March 1985. Theme is Rainbow Pride so feel free to be colourful. Rain date: Wednesday 9 March, 12 – 2pm. Supported by Out@PSA.
Tuesday 8 Persecution of sexual dissidents in Europe since World War II, lecture by queer history researcher Professor William Spurlin, 12noon-1.30pm, St Andrews on the Terrace, city.
Tuesday 8 Beach Out picnic, beach and summer fun, 6pm, Princess Bay (side of the beach facing Houghton Bay). Free; bring a picnic, your favourite beach game, friends and family. Check OITP Facebook page for weather on the day. Register by email to firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a confirmation on the day. All marine life is protected; no dogs or fires on the beach.
Tuesday 8 – Saturday 12 Pride in progress A dance, circus and physical theatre show about the progress of the pride movement. $16/$13/$12 or $10 for under-12s and $5 student standby on Wednesday 9. BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Tce.
Wednesday 9 LILAC Library Open Day 5.30-7.30pm, L2, 187 Willis St. Lending library and venue for book launches, speed dating, speakers; women-and-children-only. See the collections, join up and go home with a bag of goodies. Light refreshments available. See lilac.lesbian.net.nz for an online catalogue.
Wednesday 9 Pride Quiz Night and Karaoke 8pm, Ivy Bar, 49 Cuba St, Te Aro. Starting with a Pride Quiz on queer history, current events, pop culture and more, rolling into Karaoke with prizes for the best gay anthem sung, and spot prizes all night. Gold coin donation for the quiz, all donations to Out Wellington.
Wednesday 9 – Friday 11 BITS A raucous, late-night clown show celebrating sex and gender identity, presented by Double Bounce. 7pm, Bad Grannies, 195 Cuba St, Te Aro, $15/$10. Email email@example.com or tickets at the door.
Wednesday 9-Saturday 12 Aotearoa Rainbow Human Rights and Health Conference for the Pacific region, University of Otago Medical School at Wellington Hospital. See registration page for prices.
Thursday 10 A Gay Tour at Zealandia 10.30am regardless of weather, with Des Smith, gay activist and trained Zealandia guide. Usual entry fee but tour is no extra cost. Good footwear essential, tours about 2.5 hours. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday 10 LILAC Library Open Day 11am-2pm, L2, 187 Willis St. Lending library and venue for book launches, speed dating, speakers; women-and-children-only. See the collections, join up and go home with a bag of goodies. Light refreshments available. See lilac.lesbian.net.nz for an online catalogue.
Thursday 10 ILGA Spiritual Gathering for people of all faiths. 6pm, St Peters Anglican Church, 211 Willis St, Te Aro. Free.
Thursday 10 Thin Edge of the Wedge: Homosexual Law Reform in Aotearoa New Zealand (1985-1986) 7pm, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision, 84 Taranaki St, Te Aro. A special screening programme of the heated meetings, street rallies and debates that began almost immediately after the introduction of the HLR Bill into Parliament on March 8,1985. $10/$8 from Eventfinda. See Facebook event page.
Thursday 10 Laughing Out Loud Neil Thornton of TV3’s After Hours with Freya Desmarais, Julia Clement, Saran Goldie Anderson, Laquisha St. Redfern and other LBGTQ comic, 8pm, Fringe Bar, 26-32 Allen St, Te Aro, tickets at Eventfinda and at the door. Profits to LGBT youth charities.
Saturday 12 Wellington Pride Parade, 10-11am, Frank Kitts Park to Waitangi Park. See the Facebook page
Saturday 12 Out in the Park 11am-6pm, Waitangi Park, free family-friendly entertainment, with over 70 stalls, performances and games. With Pollyfilla and the Dazzling Fillettes, Chocolate Box, Manthyng, and the Pooches in the Park Dog Competition. See Out in the Park website
Saturday 12 1986 – Out in the Park After Party 9pm until late, Ivy Bar, James Smith Corner Basement Dress in your best 80s gear. Pre-sale $23 at cosmicticketing.co.nz.
Sunday 13 Lesbian Overland and Cafe Club walk 10am, City to Sea walkway with the Lesbian Overlander and Cafe Club, free, starting from outside the front of the Wellington Railway Station. Women-only easy walk with a stop for coffee; bring lunch and a drink, and dress for the weather. See wellington.lesbian.net.nz/overlanders.
Sunday 13 Bi-friendly Picnic 1pm, The Dell, Wellington Botanical Gardens, Tinakori Rd. Free, bring food to share. For bisexual, pansexual, fluid and all-gender loving people, our lovers, friends and children, organised by the Wellington Bisexual Women’s Group. All bi-friendly people welcome.
Sunday 13 DSW Pool Party and barbecue, 5-7pm, Thorndon Pool and spa, 26 Murphy St, $15/$10 includes barbecue and soft drinks. Hosted by Different Strokes Wellington, the LGBTI swim club. Tickets from Rainbow Team Wellington stall at Out in the Park or cash at the pool door.
Sunday 13 Ooh La La Guitarist Toby Chadwick and singer/actor/homosexual Charlotte Chadwick deliver covers of jazz, blues, and romantic songs. Free, 6pm, Moon Bar, 167 Riddiford St, Newtown. Wood-fired pizza after 6pm.
Sunday 13 The Ruby Slipper Revue Camp cabaret of dance, burlesque, comedy, music, circus and drag, with krump & hip-hop dancer Alana Corlett of Melbourne, Fanciforia Foxglove and a host of others. 7.30pm, Fringe Bar, 26-32 Allen St, Te Aro, $17 on Eventfinda, $20 on the door. Profits to InsideOUT and Tranzform.
Friday 18 Rainbow Wellington monthly drinks 5-7pm, IVY Bar, lower Cuba Street.
Wednesday 23 “Let’s Talk About Sex” 7.30-9pm, Thistle Hall Gallery, 293 Cuba St. A space to talk about our sex and sexuality in creative, sex and body positive ways. If you are lesbian, bisexual, queer female identified, trans*, mana wahine, takataapui, or asexual, then this is for you. Visit the Facebook event page for details.
The Lesbian Connection (TLC) sends a monthly email of events in the area, Nelson and Motueka in particular. Contact them at email@example.com to go on the mailing list or for more details of any events.
Wednesday 2 Nelson Games night, from 5.30pm, Prince Albert Hotel, 113 Nile St, Nelson.
Wednesday 9 Nelson Pool night, from 5.30pm, Shark Club, 132 Bridge St, Nelson.
Wednesday 16 Nelson Games night, from 5.30pm, Prince Albert Hotel, 113 Nile St, Nelson.
Sunday 20 Motueka brunch/lunch, 11am, Muses Cafe, 136 High St.
Sunday 20 Nelson brunch/lunch, 11am, Sinful Coffee, 276 Queen St, Richmond.
Wednesday 23 Nelson Pool night, from 5.30pm, Shark Club, 132 Bridge St, Nelson.
Wednesday 30 Nelson Games night, from 5.30pm, Prince Albert Hotel, 113 Nile St, Nelson.
The Christchurch Women’s Centre keeps a diary of events in Christchurch and elsewhere on their Lesbian Support page.
Saturday 5 Lick Christchurch for girls who love girls and invited friends, with Auckland DJ Marjorie Sinclair and others, 10pm-3am, venue TBC, presale tickets $10 + booking fee or $15 at the door. See the Facebook group.
Thursday 10, 4.20pm La Belle Saison (also Sunday 13, 6.30pm and Wednesday 9, 6.20pm) 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.
Friday 18 Pride Week Opening Event: Pride Art Show 6-9pm, White Elephant Trust, 442 Tuam St. Over 150 art works from local and national rainbow, queer, trans, and rainbow friendly artists with some art works for sale on the night. See Facebook event page for details.
Saturday 19 Pride Rainbow Picnic 11am-3pm, Heathcote Domain, Port Hills Rd, Heathcote Valley. Join Q-topia, Q Canterbury and Spectrum CPIT for a family friendly picnic to celebrate our rainbow identities! Entertainment, a playground for kids and a BBQ to cook a feed on. Bring a picnic, your whanau and sunscreen. On the 28 bus route, and there will be rides from a central location and from Canterbury Uni. All ages event. Free entry. See Facebook event page for details.
Saturday 19 Homopalooza Pride Party, 10pm, Winnie Bagoes, cnr Madras and Allen Sts. R18 with drag performers, giveaways and DJs Knoxette and Chloe Langley. $15 pre-sale, $20 at the door. See the Facebook page.
Sunday 20 Wet and Wild Sea Kayaking 9.30am, Cass Bay for kit and briefing. Two groups, around Quail Island and stopping for lunch for the more experienced, and around the shoreline bays for the younger or inexperienced. Limited numbers, $25. Bring a change of clothes, sunscreen, hat, water bottles and snacks, and a BBQ or picnic for a family day out. Email Paul John Brennan or see the Facebook group page or event page.
Sunday 20 Oasis Lite Pride Service, 5pm, all-ages service led by Sue, Marion and Neil and followed by refreshments. Oasis Lite, cnr Knowles St and Nancy Ave. Visit facebook.com/OasisLite.
Sunday 20 Pride Quiz Night 7-10pm, The Twisted Hop Pub, 616 Ferry Rd, Woolston. Quiz teams of 4 to 6; entry $5 per person. All monies raised go to a charity as decided by the winning teams! To book a table, call the Twisted Hop on 943 4681. R18 event. See Facebook event page.
Sunday 20 Dr. Sketchy’s anti-art school, 7pm, Smash Palace, 172 High St, with drag king HuGo Grrrl. Bring your art supplies and prepare for fun. $18 (+fee) from Cosmic stores and website. See the Facebook page.
Sunday 20 Veggie Thai Kai with the Veggie Puffs, 7pm. A two-course vegan/vegetarian dinner, $28pp, Sema’s Thai Cuisine, Edgeware Mall, cnr Edgeware Rd and Sherborne St. RSVPs are essential by Wednesday 18 by email. See the Facebook event page.
Tuesday 22 Lady Poets Presents: The Struggle Is Real Performance, poetry and ridiculousness, 7.30pm, Space Academy, 371 St Asaph St, with guest MC Wellington Drag King Hugo Grrrl. R18, $5 cash on the door. See the Facebook page.
Wednesday 23 Q-Topia Gay Bingo 7pm, Hagley college café, Hagley College, alcohol-free, all-age event with Aunty Pipi and Meryl Vale, $10 per book, cash only at the door. Bring change for yummy treats, extra games and merchandise. See Facebook event page.
Easter Sunday 27 Big Eat Out: Pride Dinner & Dance Party 8pm, Winnie Bagoes, cnr Madras and Allen Sts, CBD. $25 includes pizza, breads and salads, cash bar, entertainment and Pride Dance Party with DJ Jordan Eskra. Pre-sales only for dinner; book on the website, see Facebook event page. $10 door sales to dance party after midnight.
Wednesday 16, 5.30pm) La Belle Saison 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.
Tuesday 22, 3.30pm, Arrowtown La Belle Saison 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.