Pride and Protest

Pride marches and events are rooted in protest. They are the LGBTTIQ* version of “Fuck you! I won’t do what you tell me”.

The controversy surrounding the greeting of the National party representatives at BGO has been responded to by a number of representative groups, media commentators and individuals on social media. The presence of TPPA protesters, the participation of ‘straights’ and then the Prime Minister’s post BGO comments which focussed on Greens and Mana representatives discounted “gay and lesbian” participation and have provided a perfect opportunity to talk about how we report on and uphold our democratic right to protest as LGBTTIQ* communities.

The Prime Minister’s comment that, “with all due respect, the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) is not a gay and lesbian issue” is a common example of the way everyday citizens silence or reduce the needs of LGBTTIQ* communities to a single issue minority voice. “With all due respect” is an adverb politicians and debaters use to signal that they are about to disagree or in this case criticise an action or statement. It’s akin to that person that says “some of my best friends are trans* but . . . .” In the context of the Prime Minister’s comments this was an example of a heteronormative world-view that excludes LGBTTIQ* communities from having a view on anything other than marriage equality and HIV/Aids in healthcare.

We do it ourselves too. LGBTTIQ* representatives responded yesterday and made a connection with HIV/Aids drugs in order to make it easier for the mainstream media to get the ‘relevance’ to LGBTTIQ* communities. While this is an issue for our communities, so are homelessness, youth suicide, access to healthcare, workplace discrimination and exclusion, access to affordable education and living everyday in a fixed societal gender binary that excludes, silences and torments so many people within LGBTTIQ* communities.

The Prime Minister also neatly inferred that the Mana and Greens representatives were out of place, just a few straights, troublemakers who had no place at the BGO. The failure to recognise MP’s from the LGBTTIQ* communities alongside the importance of straight allies in regard to the advancement of rights is both disrespectful and divisive. One could be excused from thinking that it was a homophobic strategy to close down the voices of LGBTTIQ* activists and their allies.

The Prime Minister went on to say “there’s a hell of a lot of people there who are celebrating their sexuality and who are celebrating the gains that have been made for gay and lesbian rights”. We should be concerned that the elected leader of our country has an expectation that communities will annually celebrate historical movements in the achievement of gay and lesbian rights and not seek to improve the rights and everyday challenges faced by Trans*, Intersex, Bisexual, Queer and Takataapui communities.

The TPPA, Climate Action and all changes to the laws and acts that govern this country are not and never have been sexuality issues, they are issues of citizenship and democracy and if the rights of the LGBTTIQ* communities are as advanced as the Prime Minister would have us believe we would not be protesting alongside our straight allies and other concerned citizens of Aotearoa/New Zealand.

The gain of legislative equality has done little to protect LGBTTIQ* from either overt or subtle discrimination and bullying from families, work colleagues or other aspects of day to day life. The shock and horror responses that ‘it’s illegal’ do nothing to creating a more inclusive society that respects and accepts diversity in all of it’s colours, shapes and forms. What the Prime Minister has achieved is an illustration of how our communities continue to experience homophobia and oppression through both language and heterosexual privilege everyday.

This weekend the Pride March will take place in Auckland and the idea that Pride is a celebration of the gifting of rights to the LGBTTIQ* communities will be promulgated in all of the mainstream media. There will be screams of anguish from the sidelines as community activists use this one day in the spotlight to try and improve the lives of those who the Prime Minister and our heteronormative society make invisible every day by upholding their right to protest.

Protests did take place at the Pride March and unsurprisingly the media appears to have been selective in their sourced comments. The protest group led a successful inconvenience action that won some media coverage and  encouraged wider conversation among queer activists in Aotearoa. I look forward to being a part of progressing the Pride, Protest and Inclusion discussion.

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To the people- a reply to “Against Conservative Leftism”

LeftWin

On February 4th upwards of 20,000 people descended on central Auckland to protest against the signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. Big sections of that crowd actively participated in blockades, shutting down the central city. It was an exciting and powerful display of popular power- as well as an active challenge to those wanting to drive radical change in Aotearoa. This massive exercise in popular power showed what is possible, the question facing radical leftists now is how can this energy be harnessed to bring forward a new generation of organisers?

However, not everyone sees it this way. In the aftermath of this rally, Fightback published an article by Daphne Lawless titled “Against Conservative Leftism”, which began with a decidedly pessimistic view of these rallies. The article begins with the rally- but rather than being upbeat at the unprecedented protest – it polemicized against its participants. Supposedly, too many people carried…

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Being A Girl: A Brief Personal History of Violence

The Belle Jar

1.

I am six. My babysitter’s son, who is five but a whole head taller than me, likes to show me his penis. He does it when his mother isn’t looking. One time when I tell him not to, he holds me down and puts penis on my arm. I bite his shoulder, hard. He starts crying, pulls up his pants and runs upstairs to tell his mother that I bit him. I’m too embarrassed to tell anyone about the penis part, so they all just think I bit him for no reason.

I get in trouble first at the babysitter’s house, then later at home.

The next time the babysitter’s son tries to show me his penis, I don’t fight back because I don’t want to get in trouble.

One day I tell the babysitter what her son does, she tells me that he’s just a little boy, he doesn’t know…

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Authentically Queer

Last year the Westpac Rainbow survey showed that Marriage equality had done little to positively change the lot of LGBTIQ (Queer) in the workplace. Well that depends who you talk to of course.  By and large the majority of workplaces represent a hetero-normative worldview tightly framed by the dominant gender binary and those voices believe they are the saints that granted the ultimate wish.

I sometimes liken the experience of being chosen to lead a group of heterosexual conservative women to what I imagine a woman in 1970 being selected to lead a group of blokes faced – open hostility, avoidance, red herrings and an attitude of ‘it’s not us, it’s you”.  It was the way I dressed, cut my hair, challenged or questioned non-inclusive views, the look on my face and then finally it was my eyebrows.

It was apparent that if I chose to present as femme, wear a dress, heels and make up that the team ‘softened’. I became the recipient of much praise, lauded for my style and fashion sense and for how gorgeous I looked.  The trouble with that is it was not how I felt. The very act of appearing like this was an act of manipulation at first amusing and then dishonest. The problem was that if I chose to present my authentic comfortably dressed gender fluid self the team reportedly found my appearance intimidating and uncomfortable.

I think this experience is exactly why many remain ‘closeted’ at work – it’s a massive hurdle to face every working day. The problem is that calling out non-inclusive, homophobic attitudes is rarely led by those who are reaping the privileges associated with fitting a gender binary and what happens instead is that the authenticity of Queer and LGBTIQ workers’identity is sacrificed every day.

The experience has been euphemistically described as a challenging journey, a few months out the other side I’d call that a polite understatement.

“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are”. Carl Jung

Chief Tuira Kayapo: A Bold Matriarchal Warrior Who Refuses Colonist Fuckery into Her World

The Feminist Rag

“You have no right to destroy our river. The mothers of the Xingu will not allow it.”

For those times I feel hopelessly overwhelmed and eaten alive by the predatory colonist culture, it is awesome matriarchal warrior women like Indigenous Brazilian Chief Tuira Kayapo of the Xingu River Basin who breathe life back into my wilting Spirit.

Some pictures are worth a thousand words, like the ones below.  One is Chief Kayapo using her machete to smack upside the head a bunch of colonist assholes who are trying to rape her land and genocide her culture for the usual reasons – profit and what they think is power – as the white male supremacist colonist culture has done and continues to do to all indigenous cultures across the globe, yours and mine included before our ancestors began the so-called “civilization” process forced upon them.  The other is her scolding two…

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5 Things Cis People Can Actually Do For Trans People (Now That You Care About Us)

The (Trans)cendental Tourist

It’s been a weird year for trans people.

Allow me to be more specific: It’s been a heated, daring, tumultuous, graphic, specularizing, aggressive, pointed,contentious, highlyfatal, and really, really complicated year for trans people.

Here are a few examples: Kristina Gomez Reinwald, Ty Underwood, Lamia Beard, and many othertranswomen of color have been brutally murdered at the hands of lovers, family members, and strangers.Meanwhile,Laverne Cox and Janet Mock have come to fame and exhibited incrediblefeats of grace, articulation, and poignancy under the gaze ofan eager media. Blake Brockington, Leelah Alcorn, Taylor Alesana, and many other transgender youth have committed suicide afterenduring endless bullying and systematic brutality. Meanwhile, Jazz Jennings became the new face of Clean & Clear and published a children’s picture book about her life, and teen trans couple Arin Andrews and KatieHill (best known for “Can You Even Believe They’re Trans?!” types of headlines) wrote and published individual books…

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