[This post was originally published in Gyro zine, #18, 2011.]
n 1986, we were granted legality — we were allowed to exist. In 1993, we were granted the right to exist — to be free from discrimination. In 2004 we were granted legal recognition of our relationships, and in 2005 those relationships were granted the same legal status as straight marriage.
In 2009, killing one of us was now considered murder (before that, it was only manslaughter; a “normal” person would be expected to fly into a homicidal rage when propositioned by a gay man — instead of, you know, politely declining). While we still can’t adopt, legally we have it pretty sweet in New Zealand.
Now, of course, when I say “we”, I mean gays. Bisexuals are still largely thought not to exist, trans* people still have no explicit laws protecting them from discrimination — unless they allow bureaucrats to pigeonhole their bodies into boxes they may not be comfortable with; technically trans* discrimination is illegal, but that’s never been tested in court, and discrimination does happen. The medical community still seem completely incapable of comprehending intersex bodies. And anyone who falls outside of the rigid binaries of sex, gender, and orientation are told they have to conform.
We were promised equality. We were promised freedom. We were promised a country where we could be ourselves; to love whom we want, to love how we want. Yet, we still have to put up with the Paul Henrys and the JTs in the media, the Tau Henares and the Trevor Mallards in our parliament, and the Bob McCroskies and the Larry Baldocks in the lobby groups. We still have to put up with the words we use to identify ourselves being used by straights as insults. We still have to put up with the bullies in our schools, who are driving our young queer people to suicide. We still have to put up with being yelled at or spat on down the street, or being dragged down an alley and beaten. We have to put up with our houses being vandalised and our businesses burned. We still have to put up with being raped to ‘correct’ us, or as punishment for not conforming.
We have a long way to go.
New Zealand should be a country where we are all free to be ourselves; to express ourselves however we see fit. But we’re not. When queer/LGBT issues come up in the media, people have run the gamut from telling me I’m taking things too seriously, to accusing me of trying to create a homosexual new world order where everyone will be forced to have gay sex all the time.
Often, people will ask if I’m “one of them.”
No. I’m one of us.
We are all human, and we all have to share this small mote of dust we call Earth. We all have the right to this thing called life. And we should all be able to demand to live it with the dignity and respect we all deserve.