So the NZAF has had its AGM and Board elections - well done to the new trustees, but it's very sad to see no-one with links to Auckland's gay community on the board, and no-one with HIV itself. I asked a few friends who had been active around HIV issues before if they'd voted and their reaction was "What's the point?" The general sense was that the NZAF is no longer connected to the community that established it.
NZAF used to be central to the world of gay men in New Zealand - now, with the number of people living with HIV at the highest they've ever been, they're seen as increasingly irrelevant. Auckland has got by far the largest population of HIV+ guys, yet we now have a board with zero contact or knowledge of this world. Let's hope they can rectify that with a judicious appointment - I think they have one place left to fill. As an HIV+ man, and an ex-Chair of the organisation, I find this development sad and worrying for the future effectiveness of its work.
And we have a national election looming. Do you vote along lines of self-interest? Along lines of what you think is best for the country over the future? For candidates or parties that support queer issues?
Sometimes it's tempting to say "A plague on all your houses"and walk off in disgust but voting really does matter.
I have friends who will vote National - I won't - one of their new candidates, Dr Jian Yang, has said he's against gay marriage. It's not an issue that preoccupies me personally, but I think that from a human rights point of view, you can't get away from the fact that if we are full citizens, we deserve 100% equal rights in all areas. Jian Yang doesn't agree, and he's not the only one in National. National does have one out gay MP, Chris Finlayson, and a few in the closet, but they are not exactly that interested in us. Their "gay strategy" seems to be getting Nikki Kaye to be our new girlfriend in Ponsonby bars.
Labour have been on our side for decades now, but again with limits. They've certainly done more for the rights of queer people than anyone else, and have also been onside with issues around HIV, and they have a number of happily out gay MPs. But while there is a lot of good in Labour, there's a lot of dead-wood too.
ACT - yes, I know gay men who vote ACT. Why? I don't know. It's always worth repeating the fact that John Banks said putting six inches of barbed wire up a gay man's arse was a waste of good barbed wire. He smiles and claims he's changed, but I wouldn't trust him as far as I can kick him.
The Greens - all definitely onside for queer issues, and Kevin Hague MP has almost been the de facto Opposition spokesman on Health during this last parliament. But do you think the rest of their policies make sense?
The Maori Party - forget it - Tariana and Pita look all warm and cuddly, but they "tolerate" the gays, they don't support us. I remember Tariana saying a few years ago that she wouldn't support gay marriage because it was against a Maori understanding of marriage. Fine. I won't support you though.
Mana - a wasted vote, as is NZ First or United Future.
Yes, whoever you vote for, the politicians will win - but get out and do it.
So it will be interesting to see what happens. I'm in Auckland Central, so will give the Labour Candidate Jacinda Ardern my electorate vote, I'm still deciding where my list vote will go.
On a lighter note - Bearracuda was great the other night - so good to be in a room full of hot ,sweaty men, dancing ourselves stupid to great music, seeing friends, meeting new people, just having fun. And summer is coming, so there are lots of hot men in shorts and that is a very good thing. I have a thing for legs...hairy legs...tempting the eye up...
The sun is shining, life isn't too bad.
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