The surface background is that the police have been banned from marching as a group in uniform at the 2019 Pride parade. Problems with the involvement of Corrections, the Police, and those corporates who just want the pink dollar but don’t really support us were raised at the AGM. The board then held a series of hui about what Pride is, who should be involved, etc. There were a general hui, an online hui & specialist hui primarily to discuss Māori & Pacifika issues. The marching in uniform by Police & Corrections were an issue at the hui I attended & apparently at the others so the board called a special hui to discuss their attendance. I attended that hui.
When I left the hui I thought the choice was between two options a total ban and total acceptance. I felt the case against Corrections was pretty solid but the police not clear-cut. My feeling was that I was glad I didn’t have to make that decision but that I could live with either one. The board attempted to fix things by making a compromise decision that ended up pleasing very few, but they tried.
To be completely clear, I don’t agree with the decision, but I respect the process that the board followed to make it. That’s why we have boards, to make these tough decisions. They consulted widely and they listened to us. I gather the board was split and it only passed by one vote. Two board members have since resigned.
Following this being announced a vociferous group, largely (but not entirely) composed of white cisgender gay males started opposing the decision so a second hui was called. Around 250 people arrived and those opposed to the boards decision demanded a vote before listening to any discussion. The facilitator started to take this vote before been shouted down by other attendees. At this point and after an interchange with the board chair, a 100 or so got up and left the hui. This group wasn’t 100% male and wasn’t 100% white but close enough to make little difference. Also at this hui a notice requiring a special general meeting to replace the board was received. Unfortunately the facilitator permitted the PAP group to talk at length about things that weren’t directly related to the rainbow community. At the earlier hui they were far more focussed on the mistreatment of transgender people which was a valid point.
The people calling for the board to be replaced are largely (but not entirely) composed of financially stable white cisgender gay males who keep talking about “the community” and I feel that to them “the community” means members of their group. This is excluding the poor and the brown LGBTIQqAa+ people who experience discrimination on a regular basis, this is excluding the transgender people who do not feel safe walking down the street, and it excludes a lot of lesbians. At the Pride festival AGM at least one lesbian speaker said that under earlier boards they had felt discriminated against. Several Māori & Pasifika stood up and said that they felt that their communities were not properly represented by Pride. The Māori in particular mentioned that tikanga Māori needed more than lip service. We now have a more representative board and it has listened to Māori and Pasifika.
If the motion passes at the SGM these people will be gone. Who will the financially stable white cisgender gay males appoint as the new board? I wonder what odds I can get from the TAB that the new board will have very few brown faces, very few lesbians, probably no transgender people.
I understand that businesses have been extensively lobbied by some of those against the board decision to withdraw sponsorship. Yes, this does place the ability to run the parade at risk, but do we need to run a parade that exists to pinkwash corporates that want the LGBTIQqAa+ dollar but otherwise do nothing for us? Frankly the same goes for political parties, a 2012 study found that among adolescents in New Zealand, those identifying as transgender made serious suicide attempts at 5 times the the rate of those identifying as non-transgender. I don’t know what the relevant rates for adults and cis-gay people are but based on personal observation I’m picking it’s a lot higher than in the cis-heterosexual community. If our openly cis-heterosexual prime minister wants her photo op she should be challenged to do something about the mental health issues that are killing us.
People have been saying that the Pride parade should be open to everyone. Really??? Should we let Hobson’s Pledge march? Should we let TERFFs march? Destiny Church? New Zealand National Front?
Pride may be a celebration of LGBTIQqAa+ but at its core it is and always has been political. It exists to work for the liberation and support of the LGBTIQqAa+ communities within our society.
That’s why I shall vote to retain the existing board.
None of this is new to me. I signed up as an ordinary member of Auckland Pride because I was angry of what I saw as trans erasure at previous parades.
It’s unfortunate that 2019 will be the 50th anniversary of Stonewall and that the second hui came in the middle of Transgender Awareness Week. My personal journey with regards to the issues raised really begins at the “Gay Rights” march in 1979. Afterwards one of the speakers in Albert Park noted that this was the 10th anniversary of Stonewall and said that it was to our shame as a movement that we did not know the names of the people who started the Stonewall riots. I later found out that we do know the names. The first punch was probably thrown by Stormé DeLarverie, a POC described as "a dyke-stone butch" & many people have said that the first brick was thrown by another POC Marsha P. Johnson who sometimes described herself as a drag queen and in today’s terminology would probably have been described as “gender non-conforming”. Whoever the people that started things were, they were either poor or POC or both; not the “right image”.
Stonewall was not a venue for anyone who could afford to get into the more salubrious cis gay venues and the people who did go there did not fit the middle class white cis gay narrative and they were simply written out of popular history. In 1973 the New York “Gay Liberation March” banned drag queens from participating so Marsha P. Johnson and fellow Gay Liberation Front founder Sylvia Rivera defied the ban and walked in front of the official march with others.
We’ve been written out of history, sometimes made to feel unwelcome, or outright banned ever since. We’ve been accepted and welcomed into a lot of places too but you never know in advance what kind of welcome you’ll receive.