It's time to acknowledge a group of
people who have made a significant and long-lasting difference in the lives of glbti New Zealanders during the past year.
Here is GayNZ.com's annual New Year's Honours list. The honourees are presented in alphabetical order (sort of).
As we lauded in an editorial in February, this year the Auckland Pride Parade finally found its mojo. It was colourful, diverse, raucous, adult, fun, in your face, respectful and just a little bit thought-provoking. As a representation of the lives and interests of glbti people it can never be 100% representative (just ask No Pride In Prisons - see below). But everything pretty much clicked into place this year and the period of trying to take better advantage of the Auckland Council/ATEED-funded opportunity to put ourselves out there seemed at an end. Events such as this grab the general populations, they send a message to closeted or struggling glbti people and they stake our claim to be up front and engaged in the Auckland - and New Zealand - communities in which we live.
For getting the parade's shit together we honour the Auckland Pride Parade organisers and participants.
The NZAF is by nature conservative and cautious. There are people's lives at stake and they work closely with researchers and clinicians who are also by nature cautious. But the writing has been on the wall for several years now that a one-track HIV prevention campaign based on big, loud noises about condom use and little behind the hand mutterings about alternatives might not be cutting it in today's world. The routes by which HIV is still finding its way from infected gay and bi men to uninfected sex partners are these days more complex, nuanced and difficult to categorise simply. It's important that a wider range of prevention options are made available in a careful and supportive environment. It is right that the NZAF continues to put condoms first but it must not dismiss, or fear, alternatives in some settings. The numbers and science are pointing the way and the NZAF is gently but firmly pushing ahead towards the new prevention frontiers.
For allowing pragmatism to trump conservatism we honour the NZ AIDS Foundation's research and prevention teams.
Anyone who thought the Auckland Pride Festival and parade should just limit itself to glbti people showing how fabulous we can be, all up-side and no down-side, was asking for trouble. They got it in spades when these trans rights protesters crashed in on the parade. They were all fired up, perhaps a bit naive and it ended in tears but they fired an unguided missile right up the noses of anyone with a narrow, complacent view of what being glbti is like in New Zealand, even 30 years after homosexual Law reform â€“ which, incidentally, didn't fix everything for everyone. The immediate aftermath was a tangled morass of self-serving miscommunication on several sides of the fracas but the end result has been worth the struggle to come to terms with what happened.
For reviving the spirit of 'we're not taking your persecution and bullshit any more' we honour No Pride In Prisons.
When the organisers of the Ragamuffin reggae festival had it pointed out to them that one of their headline acts, Beenie Man, has a history of writing and performing lyrics that urge his followers to kill and main gay people, and has issued only one mealy-mouthed and self-serving comment trying to downplay the issue, they arranged for GayNZ.com to interview him. When he blatantly lied and bullshitted us and flicked the off switch just seconds into our interview they quickly saw the writing on the wall. We'd love to have been a fly on the wall during the New Zealandâ€“Jamaica phone or Skype calls that then took place behind the scenes but the result was they, or he, cancelled the appearance. Better still, Ragamuffin replaced him with a super-cool London-based Jamaican lesbian performer.
For being prepared to take a hit by doing the decent thing we honour the organisers of the Ragamuffin Festival.
It was time somebody with nous and determination stood up in court and put this country's archaic adoption law up against the Bill of Rights Act and to cut through the timorous parliamentary legislative process. Overhauling the 1955 Adoption Act is still important though its wording did at least allow legally-married same-sex couples to adopt children. Lawmakers over half a century ago wanted to ensure only upright moral and decent people could adopt and that mean for the most part that they would be married. They never foresaw same-sex couples being legally married. But any other type of union in the nature of marriage was still not able to be a legal basis for adoption. Lawyer Stewart Dalley fronted up in court , on behalf of a group of same-sex de-facto couples including himself and his partner who wish to adopt and convinced a judge the anomaly was a breach of our rights as New Zealand citizens. From that moment on same-sex couples have not had to pretend they are two single people (single people were already able to adopt - go figure!) and it becomes even harder for homophobes to categorise glbti people as lesser beings.
For forcing the issue on same-sex adoption we salute Stewart Dalley.
But... where there's an upside there is generally a down-side. Tomorrow we boldly venture deep into that downside and point a condemning finger at those who have done a clear and disgraceful disservice to New Zealand's glbti citizens.