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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Looking Back, Looking Forwards

Another year over, and already into the next. I'm not complaining, I'm glad I'm still going. I know it's a bit artificial to think of each year as somehow separate and distinct from the other, but it's how we humans work.


What will I remember 2009 for? Personally, the pain and chaos the Mills affair wrought was not fun to deal with. But that's over now. Work has been OK. Study has been OK. I've made a few new friends, which is always a plus. It's the first year in ages I haven't been out of the country, but that's OK too. And I had my first brush with the Censor thanks to my "full and frank" discussion of anal sex in a previous post. The Society for the Promotion of Community Standards, set up by the mad ex-nun Patricia Bartlett, but still apparently going in its own little echo-chamber, complained about it. The Censor's office didn't uphold their complaints, but they did want an R 18 warning on it, which is fine by me.


I'm often a bit sarky and suspicious when it comes to ideas of community, especially in the gay world, but I have to admit that there are real elements of it that enrich my life here in Auckland. Unlike "the old days" when we all seemed to go to the same places, dykes, poofs, trans and friends, now we're more split up, but there are links and bonds that matter.


Take my local, Urge, as an example. (No, I don't get paid for mentioning them). In 2009 they raised around $14,000 or so for charity. Around $7,000 for Outline, for example. Together with Caluzzi at the BGO they raised about $4,000 for NZAF. And they've run events for Prostate Cancer and Body Positive as well. To be able to pull together a group of gay men and get us to fork out that much cash over 12 months is pretty damn exceptional and praise-worthy I think.
Especially when you look at the size of the place.



It's actually quite a small bar physically, 80 people makes it feel crammed, 100 and you can barely move. On New Years Eve it was probably more like 150 and nearly impossible to move anywhere for a while. But most of the time it's far less crowded, yet over 12 months, with planning and hard work from the owners and staff, they are able to put back a sum of money into the community that most larger venues don't come near. So a big shout out and thanks to Urge for all it does for us all. I shudder to imagine gay life in Auckland without it.


We finally buried HERO. A twinge of sadness there, but it had had its day. Another sign that the community just isn't as cohesive as it once was. We don't seem to have the interest to all band together and create a huge festival like that at the moment. So it'll be interesting to see how the Aroha Festival and OurFest do. I'm still not exactly sure what they are, but I'm looking forward to finding out.


The Big Gay Out is coming, and will, I am sure, be the biggest gay event in the country for the year and as usual a hell of a lot of fun. And courtesy of Urge, we have NZ's first Bear Week, which will be dependent on volunteers helping make it work. Here's hoping we get a nice crowd of men from overseas to join in and make it an event worth repeating.


And now we get to revel in summer for a while, which is always great. So many hot men in shorts and tight t-shirts on the streets. I'm doing a few hours work every day, trying to get my head back into PhD mode, and looking forward to another year. I've had my first cohort of old friends from overseas staying, which has been great. we've known each other since our late teens, and one of the great things in life is to have friends you've known for decades. Watching the changes, seeing what remains, and just having that sense of a deep rich warmth that comes from such long acquaintance is something I love.


There's bound to be some shit along the way this year, as always, but at the moment I'm feeling remarkable upbeat. I hope you all are, and that it lasts for us all.

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