Catch Up?

November 1, 2012 in General

I have been busy ! Or that’s what it feels like anyway with two part-time jobs on the go – I ¬†keep trying to find time to write stuff in here, keep trying to catch the ideas as they appear, but then something else comes up and I lose the thread and well, you know …

But hey, it’s my blog and if I write it every day or once a month is really up to me – though I do get little feelings of guilt at times when I leave it too long, like a pot-plant I’ve neglected to water.

I gave my annual guest lecture on AIDS and me a few weeks, called “Living My Death” – I do it in for a paper here at the University of Auckland called “The Sociology of Death & Dying”, taught by the wonderful Dr Tracey Mcintosh.

I get to weave my own life story through an academic exploration of theories of death, gay social history and AIDS – it is something I really enjoy, but also find quite tiring, and it’s also very revealing in many ways – personal narratives have to be to work I guess. And I get to talk about sex and death a lot. But it was good. And I enjoy getting a solid round of applause at the end of a lecture – that doesn’t happen all that often.

I try to situate the lecture in the context of gay history of the last 50 years or so, because I think you need to know aspects of our culture to understand what happened, anyway, after the lecture was over, a young gay guy, mid 20s or so, came up to me and we had a conversation something like this.

“I don’t understand – you mean the police used to come into gay bars and be able to arrest people just because they were gay?”

“Sometimes, or if they didn’t arrest people they could drag us all out on the street and ask to check ID but yeah, the cops could and did just walk in and hassle gay bars and the people in them.”

“But I just don’t understand why they’d do it?”

“We were illegal, it was easy work for lazy cops, and no-one really cared that much.”

“Arresting people just because they’re queer? It makes no sense!”

He was right – it makes no sense, not today – back then it did.

Shame permeated our world in those days – I’m lucky enough to have only caught the tail end of it, I was able to come out in a time of change, when Gay Liberation and Gay Pride were working to being about the changes young queers like this student now thankfully are able to take for granted.

But he was born in 1986 he told me, the year that we became legal in New Zealand. I felt kinda old when he told me that …

I got to meet the people running the new Pride Festival here in Auckland, hearing their side of the “One Community” idea. Now I gather it’s going to be “One community, many cultures” an improvement I guess.

It was good to hear their point of view. In my last blog I talked about how I just can’t see us as being “One Community”, which they’d put up as one of their central themes, for the parade at least. Now they’ve moved on to “One Community, Many Cultures” which is much better. I’d argue it’s still not all that accurate and sounds more like PR puffery than anything else but hey, I’m a sociologist by training, I’ve written and taught about “Gay Auckland” so yeah, I have an opinion. In fact I did my other standing guest lecture on “Gay Auckland” a few weeks ago. But I appreciated the chance to talk with them, and I’m really glad they’ve taken all the hard work on.

My fears that it will be a nice family-friendly-don’t-upset-the-straights parade remain, but hey, I’m very open to being proved wrong.

Part of my new job involves updating and creating resources for services that might have queer clients. I’ve been updating an old contact list, counselling services, community support etc. It gives an interesting little snapshot of where things were in 2001.

We had a Pride Centre back then – based in where Rainbow Youth is today. I think that was the second Pride Centre we’ve had, wasn’t there on before that in town, around Federal Street? Maybe this third attempt will last longer. Perhaps not signing a lease might help – just rent space as and when.

There were two specific community support services linked to  the AIDS Foundation, one for Maori, and one  for Pasifika people. Both gone now.

And we had Gayline/Lesbianline instead of OUTline. Given all the rumours of crisis ( ¬†a clusterfuck of idiocy and poor Board leadership or just “normal organisational change”seem to be the two main stories, depending who you talk to) flying around about OUTline at the moment ¬†you have to wonder if that will be on the list in 10 years time too. I hope so, it’s a service we really need. I really hope their Board can keep it all going.

And it’s election time for the NZAF Board of Trustees. Ah, happy memories. I did enjoy my term on that Board a lot. I met some great people and it was really fascinating seeing how an NGO like that operates. Great to see such a talented group of people applying.

And I’m another year older – 51! Seeing I was told by a Dr in London in 1988 that I’d most likely be dead in 2 years, I’m quite happy about that.