Shiny new design

And by “shiny new”, I mean I found a nice theme in the WordPress free theme library and modified it to suit.

This particular theme is called Twenty Eleven, and not only is it nice and shiny (albeit with an enormous header, which actually takes up just as much space as the old one) it will let us do some clever design things that the old one didn’t.

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I’m not here for your entertainment

A couple of weeks ago, I was at a dance party in town. We don’t have a dedicated gay bar in Dunedin so groups such as UniQ Otago et al will hire a venue to run queer events every month or so. Because the bars they hire aren’t gay bars, we often get a number of straight people wandering in throughout the night — which there is nothing wrong with (the event was billed as “straight-friendly”) so long as they respect the fact that it’s a queer space.

Enter annoying woman and her reluctant/awkward boyfriend. The boyfriend was clearly uncomfortable being around so many… (whisper it) *homosexuals*, but she dragged him in there anyway. She, on the other hand, couldn’t be more elated. My friend and I, quietly chatting as audibly as we could next to the giant speakers by the entrance, were the first two Real Life Gayz™ she came across that night.

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Blog For Peace

by Mr Wainscotting

Today, 21st September is the UN International Day of Peace, and Save the Children have asked bloggers around new zealand to blog about what it means to them, so I thought I might chime in with my interpretation of a queer perspective.

In this country, we are in a pretty happy position with regards to queer rights, when compared to some other countries, but that doesn’t mean we don’t still have a long way to go.

So, what does peace mean to me? It’s an interesting question, as I find the concept kind of vague. I suppose, from a queer perspective — my queer perspective, I should hasten to add — it would mean that we can live in a world free from discrimination, free from violence, free from the threat of violence (both implied and inferred), and able to live unrestricted in how we identify and whom we love.

To teach children in schools, right from when they start, the diversity of sexuality and gender — show them that we are natural, and teach them to be accepting right from the start. The more exposed to the concepts they are, and the more diversity is affirmed and respecting, the less queerphobic they will be as adults.

To have gender neutral passports, and have legal documents reflect the complexities of sex and gender, not just two exclusive options, and the ability to change it at will to reflect your identity. To be able to move from country to country without having to worry about customs officials subjecting you to demeaning searches because you don’t match the little letter on your passport.

To be able to publicly identify as queer (or any shade therein), and celebrate our relationships without the threat of attack.

To not have our identities and relationship statuses second guessed or redefined by those who’s privilege affords them the luxury of fitting easily into one of society’s rigidly defined boxes.

There’s a lot of room for improvement in this country, even though we are worlds ahead of places like Uganda or Iran in terms of queer rights.

Peace is brought about by encouraging all people to love and respect one another; to recognise and affirm our differences, not just tolerate them. It’s by ensuring that everyone has enough to eat, and a comfortable home, and don’t have to fight their neighbours for essential resources. It’s about recognising everyone as equal under the law, and ensuring the law will step up when that equality is missing.

In new zealand, were far from the situation in places like Darfur or Iraq, our lives aren’t surrounded by war and conflict, and we’re in a very privileged position to avoid such wars outright.  In contrast, we’re a very peaceful nation — in fact, we’re often ranked as one of the beacons of peacefulness. But if we’re going to retain that status, then we need to set the bar very high indeed. One place to start is full legal and social equality regardless of class, race, sexuality or gender.

I love you Foo Fighters!

Why? Because they pissed off the Westboro Baptist Church by writing Keep it Clean (Hot Buns), a song about gay sex. Fred Phelps decided that his merry band of arseholes would go to the Foo Fighters’ concert in Kansas City for one of their famous pickets.

In response? The Foo Fighters came out, on the back of a lorry, and performed Keep it Clean for the protesters.

Keep it up, Foo Fighters. Keep it up.

Suffrage Day

On this day (curse my real life busyness) Yesterday, 118 years ago, women in New Zealand got the vote. It was a momentous step towards equality — a road down which we are still plodding.

It is at this point that I have to give credit for the enormous amount of work that women did for queer rights — and not just queer women. The gay liberation movement came on the coattails of the feminist movements of the 60s and 70s. And in spite of gay men’s insistence to make it all about us, feminists and lesbians (not being mutually exclusive, of course) did an enormous amount of the work towards the equality that is still framed almost entirely in terms of gay men.

We would be nowhere without feminism. The various women’s rights and queer rights movements are natural allies — all civil rights movements are. None of us are truly free until all of us are free.

So, thank you, to all the women throughout history who fought (and continue to fight) so hard so people like me could grow up in a world where I’m not illegal, women who in many cases received (and still receive) just as much opposition from gay men* as they did from the straights.

Thank you.

(19th September is also International Talk Like a Pirate Day. I’m not sure if the two are related…)

* I have a story to regale you with, that may make you want to punch the nearest gay man in the dick, but I can’t reveal anything yet until I know how much of certain conversations can be repeated publicly.