Ella Robinson and Hahna Briggs
This week – 7-15 April – is Dunedin Pride Week. Every year, during Pride celebrations across New Zealand, people ask why we still need Pride. Why do we still celebrate it after marriage equality? Why be so loud? What does Pride even mean? There isn’t a straightforward answer.
Pride means different things to different people. For some, it’s a time for finding or discovering representation. For others it’s about commemorating all those who actively fought (and still fight) for LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Intersex, and Asexual) people to be recognized as citizens with equal rights in New Zealand and around the world.
It’s about remembering all those who suffered for being different, unable to live their lives openly for fear of discrimination, incarceration and violence. We may have come a long way since New Zealand’s Homosexual Law Reform legislation in 1986, but the fight isn’t over. Discrimination and violence (verbal, structural and physical) still occur in schools, at work, universities, hospitals, rest homes and many other institutions. LGBTTIAQ+ identities, their experiences and different family structures are still overlooked in government and organisational policies.
A 2014 study based on the New Zealand Adolescent Health Survey found that around 40% of students who identified as transgender experienced “significant depressive symptoms, had harmed themselves, and had been unable to access health care when they need it”, and that almost “one in five transgender students reported experiencing bullying at school on a weekly (or more frequent) basis”. Yet despite these challenges, approximately half of the young trans study participants contributed to society through volunteer work in our communities.
Racism, ableism, and socio-economic circumstances however, combine with experiences of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia to make it harder for some LGBTTIAQ+ people to live as openly as others. Pride, therefore, can also be an opportunity for those who can afford to be ‘out’ to raise awareness about the continuing inequalities that exist today, to offer education to the wider public about LGBTTIAQ+ experiences, to dispel false beliefs, fear, ignorance, and harmful stereotypes. It’s important that we continue to have conversations about these issues, to have visible role models, and ensure that support structures are in place for those who need them. Pride, then, is also about giving hope and normalizing the existence of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities in our communities.
In New Zealand’s southern city of Dunedin, Pride Week is organised by The Dunedin Pride Committee and Q² Trust. We are all volunteers who share a common vision:
to celebrate diversity, and create a safer city for Dunedin LGBTTIAQ+ residents.”
This year will be Dunedin’s biggest Pride festival to date. A variety of events has been planned, from literature and art, music and dancing, to a family-friendly picnic.
We know that Pride will change and evolve in meaning and purpose with every new generation, and we hope to create a platform for your voice to be heard. So, come along to this week’s events, and talk to us about what you enjoy and what you’d like to see happen in the future.
The Dunedin Pride programme is available to download from www.facebook.com/DunedinPride/, or come and visit the Pride Hub at 23 Princes Street. The Pride Hub is open during the week-long festival, and is the central location for all the information you need, as well as the site of the Pride Art Exhibition, interactive community artwork and other smaller events.
Ella Robinson is a PhD candidate in Anthropology at the University of Otago, where she explores lesbian, bisexual and queer women’s experiences and conceptualisation of ageing and the life course. She volunteers at the University of Otago’s OUSA Queer Support Centre and her love of writing and listening to poetry led to the inclusion of a Pride Poetry Competition and Pride Poetry Night in this year’s Festival.
Hahna Briggs is the Queer Support Coordinator for the OUSA Student Support Centre. In addition to this, Hahna is the treasurer and Pride Committee member for Q Squared Trust, and co-founder of GASP! Dance Collective.
Clark, T.C., Lucassen, M.G.G., Bullen, P., Denny, S.J., Fleming, T.M., Robinson, E.M and Rossen, F.V. (2014) The Health and Well-Being of Transgender High School Students: Results from the New Zealand Adolsecent Health Survey (Youth’12), Journal of Adolescent Health 55: 93-99, [online] available: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2013.11.008.
The Dunedin Pride Committee would like to thank volunteers, sponsors and funders including: Otago Community Trust, Dunedin City Council, Dunedin City Creative Communities, Rule Foundation, Urban Dream Brokerage, SCM Aotearoa, Phantom Billstickers, Ending HIV, New New New, Dunedin Public Libraries, Dunedin UNESCO City of Literature, Otago University Press, and the University Book Shop.