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August 15, 2011 | by  | in Features | [ssba]

Kiwifruit! – Interviews with Some New Zealanders who just Happen to be Gay

Gay New Zealanders come in all shapes, sizes, ages and shades of fabulousness.

Some are ‘straight acting’ with beer in hand and rugby on the telly; others are camper than Elton John in sequins at a glitter party, and some, like me, are a combination of both. But remember one thing: wherever you are on the homo scale—we love you. But what happens when we throw a bit of nationalism in there for goodmeasure? Well, let’s meet the interviewees and find out what it means to be a gay New Zealander.

Grant Robertson

First up: MP Grant Robertson stepped in to fill the shoes of then retiring Labour stalwart, Marian Hobbs, in 2008 when he campaigned to electoral victory in Wellington Central. Robertson met his partner Alf whilst playing for the first ever gay rugby team in Wellington—the Krazy Knights. To quote his maiden speech in Parliament, “I was the number eight and he (Alf) was the halfback”. Cute.

Running as an openly gay candidate, the MP has never struggled with his sexuality being in the media, admitting that “as a public person, I’ve always been out”. With their ‘Rainbow Policy’ section of their manifesto, Labour is committed to providing extensive support to non-heterosexual New Zealanders. With policies that range from providing further access to sexual health resources including education and support for AIDS victims, to marriage equality, gay adoption rights and promoting safe school environments for queer students, Labour has got you homos covered!

When it comes to being a gay New Zealander, Robertson states that he is “a New Zealander, who happens to be gay”. Although proud to be gay, his sexuality does not define him—no one thing does. To once again quote his maiden speech, it is part of him “just as is being a former diplomat, a fan of the mighty Ranfurly Shield holding Wellington Lions or New Zealand music and literature”. And I think that’s pretty choice.

Dean Knight

Fellow former Krazy Knight and law lecturer at Vic Dean Knightwas more than happy to be interviewed. Just one catch—he’s in London. Thank Zeus for Skype! The first thing Dean reveals to me is that “the coffee’s shit here”. A lecturer that swears. Fabulous. Well, fagulous. Dean’s area of interest is public law, but he “dabbles” in queer issues when he has the time to do so. Dean tells me that “by and large New Zealand has done a very good job at cleaning up the statute books” where inequality/inconsistencies previously discriminated against queer New Zealanders. But, like most things, there is still work to be done.

“Marriage is not available to same sex couples, however, all of the benefits are available through civil unions. We are lacking in adoption rights and there are also transgender issues. Transgendered people are not protected under the Bill of Rights or Human Rights Acts.” What?!
“(We) can’t just look at the legislation—it’s what it recognises. There has to be work done to make these protections meaningful.”
On marriage, Knight says “it still offends me that there is something that is excluded to me and my partner due to our sexuality”. This has got to change. For Knight, “being gay is the most important and unimportant thing” about who he is.

“It opens up a rich world of community, a community which is fascinating and diverse. But on the other hand, it’s also an unimportant part of me in the sense that I am a multi-dimensional person. And that ambiguity is what it means for me to be gay. I feel incredibly proud to be gay—all you straights should be jealous!”

Felicity Frockacino

Our third contestant for this evening, Miss Felicity Frockacino, was supposed to meet me at Espressoholic at 4pm. She didn’t show. 4:05pm in walks her brother/manager Shay who informs me that Fliss is “having a massage” and that he will conduct the interview on her behalf. What a diva!

When I tell Shay that Fliss is viewed by some to be a Gay Wellington icon he blushes and says that, “Fliss would love that. I believe that’s good for her self esteem and it’ll stop her going to rehab for a week. I mean she’s almost as big as Lady Gaga—no, she’s bigger.” Delusions of grandeur? As her manager/financier/general assistant the poor boy tells me it takes “90 minutes to put her make up on. You should see her beforehand!” Shay also makes all of Felicity’s outfits. Always a bridesmaid and never the bride.

He also hits back at malicious rumours that he and his sister are the same person: “Those people should be worshipped and then locked away forever!” I don’t even know what that means. As a gay man, Shay thinks it is “amazing that we can be as free and open as we can be in New Zealand. In a lot of countries, you can’t be. I really like being gay in New Zealand because we can be creative, outrageous, and challenge people’s opinions. In 25 years we’ve come a long way. I am proud to be a New Zealander who’s gay.” Just after this Fliss walks in and demands Shay leaves at once; leaving me to pay the bill! Bitch.

Last but certainly not least is VUWSA Queer Officer, Tom Reed

Tom decided to run for office last year because he believed “I had knowledge that I could use in my role, particularly in my experience of going to a university that rates number one in the states for their support of queer students.”

Since Tom was elected he has introduced the ‘Safe Space Programme’ to VUW which is a two-hour workshop in which staff and students can be educated on issues that affect the Queer community. Through its use of ‘Safe Space Stickers’, the programme also “aims to create a visual network of Queer friendly people on campus.” Reed believes that the role of Queer Officer is essential at the University because “all Queer people still have to face the potentially traumatic experience of coming out, they are still treated unequally under the law and societal prejudice and discrimination are still widely accepted by many sectors of the wider national community.”

As he is the Queer Officer at Vic, he believes that many people see him being gay as an integral part of his identity, even though in reality it is “one of the many aspects.” Instead, Tom views himself as “a human being first and foremost; and being gay and a New Zealander are just two of the aspects of my identity”. Thanks Tom, for being such a wonderful Queer Officer!

Okey dokey. So, what have we learned children? That Homos are just as diverse as any other colourful social group. Well, duh. However, despite the diversity among the contestants, they shared one important thing in common—they were all extremely proud to be gay and New Zealanders. And I think that’s what it’s all about. Regardless of our own race, religion, ideology, colour, sexuality or any other defining factor; we are all New Zealanders. Alright, that’s me done. I’m off to Ivy for a Cosmo—ciao!


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Comments (7)

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  1. Lady Lover says:

    Where are the lesbians or lady lovers? Sigh.

  2. Duncan Hope says:

    Hi Lady Lover, thanks for your comment!
    It’s a fair point. I could’ve/should’ve included a female voice in there. I certainly did not mean to offend anyone by not doing so. These were simply the people that came to mind when I started writing my article :)

  3. Alan says:

    Perhaps you could write a follow-up article because it’s just a bit too disappointing that you haven’t interviewed any queer women for this article. “These were simply the people that came to mind when I started writing my article” is a weak defence of your journalistic blunder.

  4. Number 1 says:

    “A female voice?” Just the one? How generous of you.

  5. I think poofs are primo as hell!!!!!!! I’m not a queer bastard myself but dont mind them

  6. Stop Effing Moaning says:

    The article is actually titled “Some New Zealanders who happen to be gay” – it doesn’t mention lesbians. Give the kid a break. He’s a gay man, and he chose to write about gay men. He didn’t claim to be representing the whole alphabet soup community. You could always write your own article. Christ.

  7. Love it!! And I’m not just saying that because I was mentioned!!

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