Wellington event: ‘Beyond’ (discussion and action on gender and sexual diversity)

beyond

‘Beyond’ is a weekend of discussion and action on gender and sexual diversity. Organised by the Queer Avengers, the conference will be held from the 11th-13th of October at Wellington High School.

In the wake of the parliamentary win for marriage rights, this conference aims to look beyond marriage towards an inclusive movement for gender and sexual liberation.

With a mixture of presentations, panels and workshops, the conference aims to address the lived experiences of queer/trans people in relation to identity, race, disability, the media, healthcare, parenting, education and imprisonment (among others).

Broadly, the Saturday will be focused on discussions of experience, identity and intersectionality, and the Sunday will be centred around skill sharing and campaign work. Throughout the weekend there will also be opportunities for networking, informal discussion and socialising.

Detailed schedule to come. Please see our website, beyond.org.nz, for more information.

[Registrations]
[Facebook event]

Wellington event: Solidarity protest against police brutality at Sydney Mardi Gras

no pride

Two incidents of police brutality were reported after Sydney Mardi Gras 2013, with Youtube footage showing one young man being violently assaulted by police and slammed onto the street. See the footage here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxtFtVfAeeE

Aotearoa/NZ group the Queer Avengers oppose the police brutality seen at Sydney Mardi Gras and are standing in solidarity with the victims and the communities. The Queer Avengers oppose internal inquests and call for a community-directed response.

The Queer Avengers’ press release can be found here:https://www.facebook.com/QAvengers/posts/613008638713884

For more information or for those based in Sydney, check out the main protest taking place at the same time:
https://www.facebook.com/events/616731265020510/?fref=ts

The Queer Avengers will be protesting outside the Australian Embassy at 6pm on Friday the 8th of March, in an action coinciding with a Sydney protest.

Facebook event here

Review: Black Faggot

black faggot

Reviewed by Ian Anderson

Black Faggot, performed in Auckland for Pride and Fringe Festival, should tour everywhere. Playwright Victor Rodgers’ examination of the “gay Samoan male experience” is timely and important. It’s also a crowd-pleasing comedy, selling out for its first season.

Direction, by Roy Ward, is spare and character-driven. Iaheto Ah Hi (Sione’s Wedding) and Beulah Koale (Shortland Street) perform in simple black outfits – with no props, no pre-recorded soundtrack, and simple lighting cues. In Auckland’s black-walled Basement Theatre, this simplicity allows the performers space to bounce a range of roles off each other, including various gay men and fa’afafine, their friends, family members, and tormentors. This two-man setup also allows for some excellent gender-bending performance, with Iaheto Ah Hi particularly relishing his portrayals of a Samoan mother and a fa’afafine artist.

Rodgers’ play is well-timed, given the recent press focus on homophobic Pasifika leaders.  According to Colmar Brunton polls, around 60% of Pasifika respondents support marriage rights, a similar amount to the general population. However, the play explores the complexity of double oppression for Pasifika queers: particularly the dominance of conservative churches (a closeted Destiny Church member prays to be straight) and the challenge of articulating an identity (a Samoan mother stumbles over whether to call her child “fa’afafine” or “gay”).

The play also acknowledges the racism faced by Pasifika queers, including in gay spaces. In an interview for GayTalk Tonight, writer Victor Rodger notes: “Race is something that always fascinates me and that is absolutely a product of growing up in Christchurch.” While Black Faggot focuses more on struggles within Pasifika communities, the play humorously highlights the corporate palagi monoculture of many gay spaces: “You know the one thing that makes me wish I was straight? The music they play in gay bars.”

Although nodding to the Civil Union and Marriage reforms, Black Faggot focuses mainly on personal relationships rather than legal reforms. The play should remind us of the importance of solidarity within communities; the importance of families supporting their fa’afafine, queer, and gender variant brethren. While some may find the slogan “it gets better,” spoken to a struggling queer kid near the end of the play, overly passive – it doesn’t “get better” until we make it better – the play reminds us that the struggle for liberation has just begun.

BlackFaggot

#boicotlacomay: No profit from homophobia and racism

boycottlacomay

In early January 2013, Puerto Rican chat show SuperXclusivo (featuring puppet character La Comay) was cancelled after a sustained boycott campaign. Spark writer Ian Anderson interviews Carlos Rivera, who co-founded the Facebook group and played a leading role in the campaign.

The Spark: What were the initial problems with La Comay, and SuperXclusivo, that triggered this campaign?

CR: For more than a decade, the show had had issues with hate speech and hate “humour”. In 2010 this came to head with extreme homophobic comments. The TV station was forced by a huge LGBTT campaign to create a public promise to change. A few months later the format re-emerged.

It also had moved from being a celebrity gossip and crime sensationalism show and into politics – supporting right wing politicians, draconian law-and-order “solutions to crime” and so on. The latest of this effort had been the unsuccessful attempt to eliminate bail rights earlier in 2012. When we won that referendum, we celebrated the fact we won not against the political establishment, but against La Comay. It was there I was drawn to the issue in a definitive manner.

The immediate trigger was the disappearance of a young man in the middle of a robbery. This kidnapping and eventual murder generated incredible social media attention and sympathy.

Then the show made hateful comments towards the victim, to the extreme of implying he had it coming for frequenting a red light district. The sympathy for the victim was high, so the comments fell on sensitive ears.

The Spark: Who benefits from this bigotry? What are the consequences?

CR: Basically the right wing and conservative hate mongers – and the colonialist project benefit.

The fundamental consequence was the agenda being set from the right and from the reactionary perspective – even on unpopular issues. For example, the majority of Puerto Ricans are opposed to the death penalty, and the colonial constitution prohibits it. Yet this show made it seem as it was an open question, and had an effect of putting the anti-death penalty forces in the defensive. The loss of this voice has already had an explosive effect – a visible one – in how the debates happen at the street level. There is a sense that the silent majority is progressive – which it is – but there was not this sense before.

The Spark: Your “Boicot a La Comay” Facebook page has over 75,000 likes, can you talk about this growth?

CR: About half of it happened in the first 24 hours. It was entirely grassroots. [Read more…]

“Stonewall was an unpermitted action” – Gay Liberation Front 1969-1979

Gay contingent, Vietnam War protest, 1971. Photo by Diana Davies, from the NY Public Library.

Gay contingent, Vietnam War protest, 1971. Photo by Diana Davies, from the NY Public Library.

This article is adapted from a public talk by Ian Anderson, active in the Workers Party and Queer Avengers. The talk was originally delivered at Wellington’s Marriage Equality Conference in November-December 2012. It gives a snapshot of the “Gay Liberation” movement of the late 1960s-1970s.

In 1969, the night of the Stonewall riot, was a very hot, muggy night. We were in the Stonewall [bar] and the lights came on. We all stopped dancing. The police came in…

We were led out of the bar and they cattled us all up against the police vans. The cops pushed us up against the grates and the fences. People started throwing pennies, nickels, and quarters at the cops.

And then the bottles started. And then we finally had the morals squad barricaded in the Stonewall building, because they were actually afraid of us at that time. They didn’t know we were going to react that way…

It was street gay people from the Village out front-homeless people who lived in the park in Sheridan Square outside the bar-and then drag queens behind them and everybody behind us. The Stonewall Inn telephone lines were cut and they were left in the dark…

All of us were working for so many movements at that time. Everyone was involved with the women’s movement, the peace movement, the civil-rights movement. We were all radicals. I believe that’s what brought it around.

You get tired of being just pushed around.

-Sylvia Rivera, interview by Leslie Feinberg (Workers World Party 1998)

The 1969 Stonewall Riots, which galvanised the Gay Liberation movement throughout the First World, are a well-documented but little understood rupture. On June 28th, 1969, a regular police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a queer-friendly bar, triggered resistance from marginal queer communities in New York City. This event can only be understood in the context of a wider process of social transformation, while the ensuing political project – “Gay Liberation” – contained internal contradictions which are still relevant today. [Read more…]

Same-sex mirages: Beyond the marriage debate

Equal marriage rally in WellingtonBy Anne Russell
Originally published on scoop.co.nz

A thousand people marched to Parliament in support of Louisa Wall’s same-sex marriage billon the 29th of August. As a conscience vote, the bill drew support from almost all parties, with the exception of New Zealand First, and passed its first reading with 80-40 votes. Such widespread support shows that the same-sex marriage debate seems to be almost an afterthought, piggybacking the Civil Union debate which happened in 2005. Moreover, unlike providing employment security, healthcare and housing for sexual minorities who have been discriminated against, changing the definition of marriage will not cost any money. Hopefully, the passage of the bill will be short and sweet.

 However, as the Wellington-based Queer Avengers said, “we’re only just getting started”. Jacinda Ardern’s same-sex adoption bill was drawn from the ballot on Thursday morning, and will make for a more difficult and prolonged debate. It seems that New Zealand culture is about to undergo a rigorous assessment of what constitutes both relationships and family. [Read more…]

Queer Avengers discussion: beyond marriage

By writers for The Spark

On Thursday the 19th of July, at radical social centre 128 Abel Smith Street, Wellington group The Queer Avengers held a discussion on queer activism and marriage. With two MPs’ bills in the parliamentary ballot box, the Queer Avengers decided it was time to take a stance on the question of marriage equality.

Until recently the Queer Avengers have largely abstained from the marriage discussion, with views ranging from a full endorsement of marriage equality to rejecting the institution of marriage altogether. The group had concluded that while members have a range of views on marriage, there should be no legal distinction between same sex and different sex couples. This discussion meeting aimed to flesh that position out. [Read more…]

Homophobia still a real issue in New Zealand

Article by Robert Read, a Workers Party supporter based in Christchurch.

James Froch will present a talk on Queer Liberation and Socialism at Socialism 2012.

On Saturday the 26th of May 2012 at around 7pm an 18 year old, Zakk Davies, was walking home after dropping some friends off at The Viaduct. He was approached by three males.

These males began to flirt with Zakk which he believes is because they had thought he was a female. Even though he was dressed like any other teen male on a Saturday night in jeans and a t-shirt, once they realized he obviously wasn’t they very quickly became aggressive towards him. They began to punch him until he fell to the ground at which point they proceeded to punch and kick him mainly in the abdomen.
He remembers, while they were kicking and punching him, they were shouting some of the most disgusting homophobic comments he had ever heard. He recalled that they were “Calling me disgusting and a burden on society”, but the worst comment he can remember was that they “wish they could do to the gays what Hitler did to the Jews”.

At some point they were kicking him in the head and he must have been knocked-out, as he awoke 3 and a half hours later in gutter. Bloody, crying and bruised he got up still not sure entirely of what happened and walked to the next place he knew would feel safe, his friend’s place.
He has posted on his facebook account a picture of his face, battered and bruised, with this statement.
“I am uploading this not for sympathy, but as a warning to the gay community. When in town at night, always stay as a group because homophobia is still around, and there are people out there that want to hurt you. Thank you to the 3 guys that decided to beat me up last night, for taking it out on my body and avoiding my face.”

His facebook profile has been flooded with messages of support and outrage that this is still happening not only around the world but in our own back yard. Zakk said his “spirit will never be broken” and that he strives to use his experience to help the gay community.

A comment from Gay Bi NZ online community personality Ricardo Edwards says “It saddens and angers me greatly that atrocities such as this continue against members of the gay community. Against members of the HUMAN RACE. This incident has further fuelled a desire that has already been burning in me for some time, and that is to rid our beautiful country of the hatred and bigotous attitude that still lingers in ugly pockets throughout our society. Our goal, our dream, and it WILL be our reality. True equality.”

Patty Boy and Zakk d’Larte performing at Out in the Square in Wellington

Queer Avengers leaflet: Germaine Greer’s transphobia, a “ghastly parody” of women’s liberation

Germaine Greer has a decades-long history of fighting for her vision of women’s liberation. She also has a decades-long history of attacking transfolk, targeting particular venom at transwomen even in recent years.

In 1972, Greer was arrested in this country for using the word “bullshit.” We’re here to say that transphobia is bullshit.

‘Outing’ transwomen

Over the 1980s and 1990s, Germaine Greer participated in a witch-hunt against transwomen in prominent positions.

In 1996, Greer outed Rachel Padman, a physicist at an all-women college at Cambridge University. She stated that the “dignity of this college is marred by this unfortunate event.” Greer apparently had no interest in the dignity of Rachel Padman, who survived Greer’s repeated tabloid attacks and retained her position at Cambridge.

Refusing imposed roles

Greer treats gender variance as a threat to women’s liberation, stating in her book The Whole Woman that by respecting the right to self-identify, a woman “weakens her claim to have a sex of her own.”

Any vision of liberation that doesn’t respect the right to self-identify, to refuse imposed gender roles, will simply reproduce oppression. We need to support liberation for all women, for all people, for the right to refuse all imposed roles.

Transphobia in the 21st Century

As transfolk have become increasingly organised and developed a louder collective voice, many feminists dropped the overt transphobia. However Greer continues to insist on the importance of transphobia to women’s liberation.

Caster Semenya, whose gender has been called into question.

In a 2009 article on Caster Semenya, a particularly “blokish” sportswoman, Greer took the opportunity to take a swipe at transwomen:

Nowadays we are all likely to meet people who think they are women, have women’s names, and feminine clothes and lots of eyeshadow, who seem to us to be some kind of ghastly parody, though it isn’t polite to say so.

By stubbornly continuing to attack women on the trans spectrum, Greer herself has become a “ghastly parody” of women’s liberation. Any liberation movement that limits itself to cis-women will not progress.

The Queer Avengers is holding two events on transphobia and alternatives in the immediate future:

Queer Avengers Discussion Group: Gender Trouble
What is the difference between sex and gender?
What is the relationship between imposed gender roles and gender identity/expression?
How can we fight imposed gender roles, and why is it important?
TONIGHT (Wednesday March 14th) 7pm Anvil House

Press conference on media coverage of gender variance
TOMORROW (Thursday March 15th) 4:30pm Anvil House

Queer Avengers press release: Germaine Greer glitter-bombed

On March 14th at the Embassy Theatre, members of the Queer Avengers “glitter-bombed” feminist writer Germaine Greer, touring New Zealand as a part of Writers and Readers Week.

Glitter-bombing, or throwing glitter on public figures, has gained prominence internationally as a way to highlight transphobia and queerphobia. Greer has a history of denouncing transwomen; outing prominent transwomen and describing them as “ghastly parodies” of womanhood.

Transphobic feminism is so 20th Century,” asserted Stacey of the Queer Avengers. “It wasn’t okay then and it’s not okay now. Women’s liberation must mean the right to refuse imposed gender roles, to fight for diverse gender expression.”

The Queer Avengers also handed out leaflets stating “transphobia is bullshit.” Greer was arrested in 1972 while touring New Zealand, for saying the word “bullshit.”

The Queer Avengers recently stormed Fairfax Media headquarters in Wellington for giving a platform to anti-trans sentiments. The group will be holding a press conference on media coverage of gender variance on Thursday the 15th of March, 1:30pm at Anvil House.