VSM passes; N/ACT hate students, disregard constituents and evidence

We knew it was going to happen, we knew they weren’t going to listen to us, we knew they were going to ignore the mountain of evidence they were presented with, and now the country’s student’s associations are going to crumble.

Once again, I’m a few days behind on this one, due to my busy schedule (shhh… don’t tell anyone I’m on holiday).

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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.

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.

New Zealand International Film Festival — Dunedin

by Mr Wainscotting

I’m a film nerd. From 4th to the 21st August, Dunedin will be regaled with this year’s NZFF. This year, I’m pleased that, for once, we have a selection of queer films amongst the lineup. There are a number of other good films worth seeing this year, though only a handful hold my particular interest.

Dunedin gets five queer films this year. Ours is the smallest of the main centres, so we don’t get all the films that Auckland or Wellington get, and the queer films are usually the first to be culled. (Even in mainstream cinema, it took months for a print of Milk to reach the south, even after it’s Oscar victories. (I was told that Auckland cinemas were hogging all the prints, but that would mean that the distributors only purchased a very small number for the whole country).)

So, in no particular order, here are some of the films I’m looking forward to (quotes are taken from their entries on the NZFF website): Continue reading