April 1998

Gay Pride versus All?

In this part of the world, its Summer, and that means the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in Sydney and the Hero Parade in Auckland (NZ). Both were televised by the Canadian owned network in NZ. This year in Sydney they were celebrating the 20th Mardi Gras, and for the first time Police took part. There were around 50 Queer officers, in full uniform, enjoying themselves. This year's Mardi Gras were a total success, but it was a different story in Auckland.

The Hero parade coped a bit with its billboards promoting the festival. There were two billboards, one featuring a picture of a baby boy and the text:

Filthy little fag

Don't discriminate, your son could be gay.

and the other had a baby girl and read:

Dirty little Dyke

Don't discriminate, your daughter could be gay.

Conservative groups (mainly Christians) accused the Hero organizers of 'recruiting' (as they do whenever a gay person even opens their mouth).

But the parade ran into real trouble when the Auckland City Counsel declined a request of $15,000 to pay for the cleaning up of the parade, while wanting to spend $300 million plus on a new transport center (which is how much the new Museum of New Zealand cost).

The very conservative counsel said that that the parade was not representative of all Aucklanders. Last year, about one tenth of the city came to watch the parade (and about the same watched it on TV), less than those who see the annual Christmas Parade, which is totally funded by the Counsel.

Fortunately for Hero, a local mag came to the rescue with the cash. But the Counsel found it prudent to restrict the liquor license for the parade to 3am, 4 hours short of what was requested by the organizers. The profit made from the sales would be used to fund next year's parade.

The Auckland City Counsel has taken a position that would of been acceptable 10 years ago, but, as many New Zealanders have shown, today is a much different place. Human rights is a fundamental part of democracy. New Zealand was the first country to give women the vote (although some US states already had), NZ is a long way off accepting Queer's as normal people. The Hero parade and other such events helps us identify with something, and says to people in the closet that its okay to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered.

But there are groups, such as the Auckland City Counsel and the Christian Church, that treat us like we are mentally deficient. I, personally, don't know how to tell them otherwise. NZ has (only) one Member of Parliament who is gay. One of New Zealands most prolific authors, Witi Irimea, is gay. We have several queer celebrities, the Topp Twins (two lesbian performers, who are sisters) and Mika. The Mayor of Carterton, Geogina Byer, is a (m-f) transgendered person.

We even have a gay church Minister, who on the 12th of March ran into controversy over his views over sex. He published an article in the Canterbury University orientation magazine that said that saying no way okay, but that at the same time pre-marital sex between two CONSENTING adults, heterosexual or homosexual, was okay. The leader of the right-wing Christian Coalition Party (who don't hold any seats in parliament, but were very close in the last election, 1996) got all hot and bothered about this and said it was against the teachings of the Bible.

The fact is that this Minister has been able to attract younger members of the community to attend Church, while most other churches are stuck with a greying population. Today's youth are constantly stuck with news reports of Christians protesting about anything with different thinking.

Last year a British play, being performed in Wellington's Downstage Theatre, called Shopping and Fucking (yes, you read right) where the central characters were homosexual. Right next to the theatre were Christian Groups claiming that Downstage was infesting the minds of New Zealanders. Downstage didn't really mind the publicity and sent a staff member with his own picket, reading "tickets still available."

The Museum of New Zealand has a exhibition that has two exhibits which have got the Church hot under the collar. One, a 5 inch statue of Mary, mother of Jesus, with a condom rolled over her body. The other has a painting of the last supper, with a nude woman in place of Jesus. The latter is only a warped statement, and the statue does provoke thought about Mary's virginity, and the staunch view of Catholics against contraceptives. There have been many calls to remove these exhibits, but the Museum is standing by free artistic expression.

As you may have guessed, I am an Atheist, however, I believe people have the right to believe what they want to, as long as they don't try to force their views on other people, or try to oppress the views of others. That's what democracy's all about, free speech and impression.

What do you think?


Rumors have been circulating around my school that a student, in my form, has a regular gig as a Drag Queen at a gay cafe/bar in Wellington. A friend of his, I'll call him Bob, told me and a friend of mine that he told him this confidentially.

Since third form I, and most other students have thought of him as gay, as he is very flamboyant. 'Bob' has always been on my back on not being Christian, and is adversely against homosexuality and I have argued about this with him a few times, but I haven't told him I'm gay.

The 'accused' has denied this. And I think ' Bob' was fibbing. "Bob's" friend is also being really nice to me, but I am not sure of his intentions. And I'm not sure what I want his intentions to be. More on this next month.

I've kind of gone on a bit this month, and I've been quite cynical, sorry. I would like to hear your views on stuff in this months article.




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