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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Big Gay Out? Yes. Mardi Gras...maybe

Yesterday marked the 2nd anniversary of this blog - I know because I wrote the first one right after the Big Gay Out two years ago. That's a lot of writing since then. Aren't you lucky ?

As for the Big Gay Out yesterday - it was fantastic. It's such a lovely way to spend an afternoon, hanging out with all sorts of people from the queer communities. It is great to see thousands and thousands of us in one spot. As it's a summer's afternoon, it's always pretty chilled, people  just cruising away, gay mums and dads with their kids, people catching up with friends, having a few  beers, others moving downwind from the Police when necessary. Thank you to the friends' picnic I crashed - you're great guys, nice Pinot Gris, and i loved the salami. To make up I drove them home and they drank all my beer on my back porch as the sun went down.

The BGO is the last relic of Hero, and it really holds to some of the original Hero feeling and messages. Ideas like being proud of being queer, not needing to apologise or hide, and of being a community, no matter how loosely knit that collection of communities is today. An event like BGO shows that however weak some of the links are, we are still connected.

And that explains the swarm of locusts in the shape of politicians who descend on us now each year. Is that unfair? Perhaps a little - some have a long track-record of supporting us. It was great to see openly gay Green MP  Kevin Hague there. He has been a solid and constructive force in making the lives of queer people and those with HIV better for decades. Seeing Grant Robertson and Maryann Street out with the Labour leaders is good too. Others are just opportunists out to make us think they like us and grab our votes.

The Prime Minister fits into the second category. It's slightly nauseating watching the way so many homos fawn over him.

Remember: He did not support the Civil Unions Legislation. He doesn't support same-sex couples being able to adopt children. So he is nice and smiley around us, he's very good at how he presents himself, but he still sees us as not deserving of the full rights of other New Zealand citizens. In John Key's eyes we are not worthy to be parents, and our relationships are not of equal value to heterosexual ones. There is no other way to read his actions.

Yet our Uncle Toms fall over themselves to be seen with him and get their photo taken. Power is in itself an attractive thing I guess. But this man has not been our friend. Look at National - I think it's the last party to have closeted MPs sitting in it. Think of how self-hating you must be to live half a life, stuck in the closet because you think being open about being a homo would ruin your political career. But that's the National Party for you.

Then there is all the talk of a new Auckland "Mardi Gras", spilling from, the lips of Auckland Central National MP Nikki Kaye. She's a nice woman, what I've seen of her I like. She's on the more liberal end of the Nationals too, but I don't see any real support or understanding of gay issues from her, even though there are a lot of us in her electorate.

Her first comments about a Mardi Gras were about how much money it could bring into the city - then after dissenting voices arose she hastily followed up by vague murmuring about "community". Hero, when it worked, had deep roots into all sorts of areas in gay Auckland, it had community buy-in on a big scale. As it weakened it came to rely more and more on corporate sponsorship, on being more business-like and less of a community event, and it failed, got boring, and imploded.

Perhaps all this talk will bring us some sort new bigger gay festival, I like the idea. But if it's not based in our world, if it's not based in our extraordinarily rich, messy and varied networks of community, it will fail.

But yesterday showed what we can do, who we are and why it matters to be out and proud and seen. If someone can tap into that sort of spirit, then I'll be a supporter. If it's some sanitised corporate affair, forget it.


Pierce said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael Gray said...

We have to ask why we would have a mardi gras. Is it to show a stand that we are still here and fighting for equal rights? or is it that people just want to party?

Maybe before we need to think about re-instating something similar to the size of the old hero parade, we need to ask the question - Can we do more at a grass roots level to gain exposure?

Is starting small the key to longevity?