Miriam Saphira profile
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[00:00:00] This program was funded by a generous grant from the gay Oakland Business Association charitable trust. For more information, visit gabba.org.nz ID. [00:00:11] Hi, I'm Miriam. And people often wonder why I was have been motivated to do the things that I have done. So today I'd like to talk a little bit about some of that motivation. Because really, the bottom line is I don't want people to be as, as miserable as parts of my life have been. And to me, it was about education about information. I think information, giving out collecting and giving out information is perhaps the key to a lot of the work that I've done. The The first thing that I remember, was a trauma. And it seems that mostly, it's easier to remember trauma as a very young child than anything else. And that's a bit sad because it stays with you for the rest of your life. My mother had to have a farm work in the secret I was born during the Second World War. Why she called me Miriam Edna to Hebrew names and hit there was killing every Miriam he could find I could never understand. But when I was about 18 months old, she was attacked by the farm work, have you tried to rape her and try to smother me as I was screaming. And so I've always had a fear of the dark and of course of fear of loss of Bry not surprisingly ominous metric. And I suffered a lot from bronchitis as a child. So after that, I went to school early there were no other children born during the district. And during that time, all the men were were at war. And the men and I do understand that men who attached my mother, he would have been rejected by the armies as not fit to go overseas. He was young, he was then excluded from the great adventure as the main saw or as being an opportunity for overseas trippin, etc. So he would have been resentful and, and it would have questioned his manhood, so he would have been a smoldering heap of resentment, something that I really came to understand when I worked with sex offenders my time at working in the prison. So then I was fairly bright and learn to read by myself when I was four, went to school at four, and did get beaten up quite a lot at school because I was good at things and finished my work earlier than everyone else. So applauded long, so I was often given task or the teacher of teaching the other children because it was a small country school, I grew up in town at one time, Euro very small, country area. And of course, we had blackout during the war and rationing and things like that. So that all added to a sense of restrictions and, and fear. When people are hanging up curtains because of something else that you don't understand as a three and four year old, it embeds a sense of foreboding in you and fear. However, it hasn't stopped me attacking things on a social level, which is probably important, and one have done a lot of work, I suppose, in the sexual area. And, and I've always had a strong interest in sex and understanding how it functions. So it's not surprising when I first fell in love When I was about 10. I'd always liked this girl next door. On the next door, fam. I remember when I first moved into the district, when she was born, I gave her my adult. And I was a bit annoyed that she didn't really want to play with that was a big sacrifice on my part. So by about 10, I was totally infatuated with her. And quite as fast trying to kiss her, but not really under standing what I was feeling. And it wasn't until we were in high school and our midst rated and she laughed at my discomfort, because I really still thought I could marry her. But menstruation put a whole different thing. I was definitely a kid. And I wasn't about to be able to marry another girl. And I think the realization I was very upset, I remember coming home on the school bus and she laughed at me. And I had never experienced that this great feeling that I had for her just went poof, out the window, that sort of like it went out the bus window. And I thought, Gosh, is there and so I trundled along at high school, starting to I'd started off really well and started to fail, started to had a bad crush on the gym teacher kept her name on the trees around the gym, left my School Certificate French exam early because I had the opportunity to be with the gym teach up by itself. [00:05:04] And so I only got 30% for school safe range. The gym teacher was far more important that you on that day, not having any idea of the future and what good to go see Matt might have enabled me to do. [00:05:19] However, I [00:05:24] just felt frustrated about the whole old my feelings towards females. And and when I was about is around about 14, I think my eldest sister was just before she left time, had been reading the dictionary. And so I'd obviously heard the word homosexual. And we had every man's encyclopedia, a whole lot of volumes of it. And so I looked up homosexuality, and there I can still see the line that said that homosexuals had arrested development. And of course in mind, I eternity, I thought they were all short. And calling the girl of my my desires at that time was short. And Marlon have been short. So I thought, okay, they must all be short. So I kept looking for short people. But I suddenly got a growth spurt and started to grow. And of course, by the sixth form, I was one of the tallest in the school. You've been with girls high school. And I just couldn't work out why I was so big. And homosexuals were supposed to be short. And I thought I was a freak and I must be the only one in the world. And one day in despair, I saw a bottle of poison and drank it. At that point, obviously good good singer with a high range of voice I love singing, of course, but all my throat. It was a rash, impulsive act, and obviously didn't want to die rush to the fridge to get milk to try and calm the throat. I became a blues singer overnight. [00:06:58] My voice was Husky for a long time. But [00:07:02] that sort of despair and desperation which I have met in so many people over the years and my work is clinical site that I just hate the idea of people having to go through that, just to find out some information, had I had information, it would have made a big difference, correct information that has made a big difference to my life [00:07:25] to Did you tell anyone about drinking the poison? [00:07:28] No, no, I there are many things that happened to me that I never told anyone. Because often it was because I'd done something wrong. Like the time I was tired of the hail hitting my legs, I'd be legs coming home from school. So I stood against the pine tree and the other side of it got hit by lightning. And so I ran all the way at home absolutely terrified. So that was I never told anyone for years because of course, I she was told never to stand under trees, and to when it was raining and to never run in a storm. And the next time of course, it was only a couple of weeks later, there was a pig all covered and burn marks from running across the pig panic and got hit by lightning and smart left and smaller crackling and pork. And, and again, I was terrified that someone would have found out that I'd stood under the tree. And every time I went to school, I looked at the tree and half it was burned. And so it was a reminder, there were a lot of reminders in my childhood about things that I didn't have a religious background, but there were a lot of things that invaded a strong sense of guilt when I forgot to get the kindling, and my mother chopped up a box the next morning to let the call range and drop the drop off it down. So my sisters bought the music, he holds the land and while his mother chops the word and I used to play it all the time. And I cringed eight or nine years old. [00:09:02] So what kind of headspace were you in after swallowing the poison and then trying to help your throat with the milk? I mean, we did you go from there. [00:09:11] I then decided to swallow alcohol and started visiting my parents cupboard. They had lots of strong spirits. And so I would take swigs out of the cabin. And by 16 I was going to dances. It was always rugby club or Rugby League club dancers and then Gordon, the star gym and New Plymouth. And if there was ever an opportunity to get out a whole lot been I would hate for alcohol. And so [00:09:41] it's not surprising that [00:09:46] he's got drunk and got pregnant. But But in the meantime, my brother I, my father went blind when I was at school, when I was just towards the end of the fifth form and enter the sixth form. And we completely blind couldn't see what the light was on or off. And my brother had just been arrested for vandalism and thieving. He had been pretty much around here. It was a mixed bag, and lots of problems. And so my father taught compulsory military training would make a man of him since my father, he fought in the First World War and, and train troops for the safe. And he had great faith in the army. So my brother went off to the army and I left school and what ran the farm, and I loved farming, I love the cows. And so when john came back, of course, we argued about the cows a lot because he would go off on the tractor or not, and leave the caps on the cows and so on. And so even after I'd had an operation, when my father was rushed out, he could hear the tractor going and the milking machines going at the same time, which is incompatible. So he rushed out and started shouting and I close my brother couldn't hear because the noise of the tractor and walk right off the veranda. So I was mortified. So I held my stomach from the operation and went over and finished the milking. I was in agony. And but the next morning I got up and milk the cows because I couldn't be the cows being so Miss managed. We had an argument one day, and it was it been over the cows and he grabbed the rifle and shot at me and shot my dog did. I knew I had to leave the farm. Even though people from the district tried to persuade me not to, I knew that my life depended on my leaving, I could not be here to see what he was doing. I'm not very good at it. Being blind to things happening. But I quit. I couldn't turn 17 I think I was I couldn't really cope with it. And of course, not surprisingly, I drank even more. So whenever there was an opportunity to go to a party, it didn't matter who the party was, I'll probably put myself in a few risky position. But I meet a bunch of people who were into snorkeling. And I didn't know an alternative but to have a boyfriend because everybody had boyfriends. So one became my boyfriend. And he told me about snorkeling, they paddle out on surf skis and, and we die for cry efficient, empower and fish. And I just loved up. And that's and then afterwards, you could sit around with Blake and a beer and I could consume vast amount for that as well. So that was how it was. And Colleen, I mean, the girl that I was keynote was going to teach us college. And so I applied secretly to go to teachers college, I can do a few secret things, and pitch height to the interview. Nobody knew. And then I walked time to be on time and time for the cows and got accepted. And so I went off to teachers college, but only lasted a year. Yeah. As I said, got drunk, got pregnant, and he was a nice middle class boy, I'd been snorkeling with him. So he married me. And we ended up having lots of children. But neither of us up. He knew I was having sexual but didn't really, we didn't really understand the ramifications of anything about it. And I didn't meet anybody. In 1963. I just lost a baby then. And he was at Oakland for a year until it's flattened Davenport. And I used to come over and go up and down custom Street, because there was this coffee back door and our winter and I didn't have enough money to buy coffee one day. And all these people and I was fascinated by them talking and they just seem to me to be the sort of people I might like, I didn't even think in terms of human sexuality. But I felt a connection. But I felt totally out of place having a child and a push cheer. So I left after I had the coffee. And after that I never felt enough courage to go back and I would walk past and look. [00:14:04] And so [00:14:06] nothing ever happened. We went back to New Plymouth. And then we came back to Auckland, really with my pushing that I'd found a book on logic in a secondhand shop that in 1963. And that sort of interested me and in education. But while I was down in new, we came back to Oakland in 1966. But just before that my son was at kindergarten, and I was on the committee at the kindergarten I already had, my parents always had a social conscience. So I knew that if children were kindergarten, you got involved, and so on. So I had done that. And I was appalled that woman was smacking their children for crying when they left them at the kindergarten. So I stood up at a meeting and spoke out about it. There was dead silence. And then they went on with the meeting. And I thought to myself, if I was the teacher, they would have listened. So I could see that was the sort of trigger from this book on logic that I found fascinating plus there that I needed an education. So when we came back to Oakland, I went to night school and set university entrance and then went to university had two more babies along the way. But got involved the university creation running there. And that's where I'm at sound of Coney is suggested I might like to come to an Auckland women's liberation meeting, which I had. So I said to my husband that I needed some time in the library. But instead of course I rushed into the library then rushed to the women's liberation. [00:15:35] Can you talk for just a minute about how was lesbianism and homosexuality scene in the 60s, and also the kind of push into kind of feminism and the women's movement in the 70s? [00:15:50] Well, it was interesting. It wasn't until I got involved with feminism, that I found the word lesbian. It never dawned on me. What was I am 33 or something, and still hadn't come across the word lesbian. [00:16:10] I hadn't read. [00:16:14] I suppose I hadn't read very widely. I read mostly nonfiction books often on geo morphology and geology and things. And then once I started university, I read University texts, I had given up reading novels because the emotionality offered. And so I never read any novels from the time I was about 17 until I started reading some gain lesbian novels, and about 1976. And up till then I'd never read a completed novel. I read lots but not novels or nonfiction, biographies and things like that were Ok. So I didn't come across a lot of things. And I looked around and I still had this vague idea that homosexuals short. And so I didn't really meet anybody that I could see was, was he I don't know whether Oh, I can't remember having a conscious decision that that person must be gay because they were short. But I still had this concept in my head. One of the things that I did think when I was pregnant with the first baby, I did think that there was a cure, and I might have a sexuality would vanish. Unfortunately, there was a really nice news was trying to get the baby on the breast. Because as I've been I was seriously ill and was unconscious for four days. So I was not in liquid space. I was in hospital for three weeks. So I and I hadn't a clue what I was doing. And it took some time to try and get the baby established on the breeze. And this news came back after she was supposed to finish just to help me because she had managed to be more successful than the others. I thought that she was just absolutely stunning. And it was very obvious that the cure that I put so much Oban wasn't going to work. And so in the time that I was having children involved with kindergartens, on I fell in love with various housewives and would often do things for them, all I could do was, look after the children, help them with things. But as really physically strong, I had belonged to the athletic hockey. So I just put the shop so I could do physical things that their husband was away or something I could do physical things and help them. They probably had no idea that I was totally besotted with them. So there were a series of women that I really really fancied, but didn't do anything about, I really didn't know what to do. In my dalliances with young younger girls, when I was younger, I got as far as struggling breast tumor, some wailing on down on the river on the rocks. But that was all. And while I was there, very sexual with myself, and always been a great experiment of masturbation for all sorts of bills. I never transferred that knowledge to be able to think about what how I might pleasure, another girl. So is, it's interesting how when you look back How naive you can be as a young person, and how it can carry right through the 20s. I mean, I was, I wouldn't say I would be the happiest housewife in town during the 20s. But I love children. And because I have great affection and care for children. I mean, I do lots of stuff with my kids, and so on things and so on. So and they will turned out really successful in spite of the ups and downs of my life. So, going to university, I opened so many doors, but I really didn't find any homosexuals that I could think about when in the 60s until 1969. And I heard through the university. I'd only just started there. But I heard that there was the inaugural meeting of privacy law reform being in the town hall and Frank, I was cheering up. And Mark Rowley, I think, was the secretary and he was a psychologist I met later on and work with. And I went along to that husband was appalled. And I think he found it really threatening, it must have been very threatening for him. And so that was a tense week or so until he got over. He sort of said, I shouldn't have gone when I was pregnant, but I'm not sure what the pregnancy had to do with going to meeting. So anyway, that trial, and we try and move along a bit more. And really, by the end I, I think I had that was my fourth child. And then I had another child again later. So [00:21:09] I was in fact, I set my university exams, getting tough, getting my own supervisor, so I could breastfeed in the middle of my exams and so on. My life was fairly chaotic. And then I got to my master's and department clinical psych, and finally got an internship at Mount even prison. And that made I was earning some money. And I had thought, maybe the next year, I could leave the marriage. But in fact, as soon as I started earning money, it became impossible to stay. And all really I'd meet some lesbians [00:21:45] at Oakland, women's liberation, and had an argument over abortion. [00:21:50] Because abortion was probably never an option for me psychologically. But I could, and I could I understand young girls being pressured to have abortions when they might not actually really want them. But I also could see that in instances of rights and so on, abortion was essential. So yeah, I had, but it was interesting that I chose to argue with the first lesbian who was Sharon come across. And I think it was just trying to make Adele their energy and frustration, how can you be so out there probably was going on in my subconscious, when I can't, you know, get my foot out the the marriage door, so to speak. And so of course, once I started working with people, and as I say, we can the sex offenders, a lot of sex offenders in my face caseload and violent offenders, [00:22:52] I started to gain more confidence in [00:22:57] my decisions. And then, of course, just getting money in my hand, meet the possibility that I could support the children and, and leave. And so within months, I think two months of my first paypacket, we split up, and it was dreadful time from us, but I felt so guilty, he was absolutely miserable. The best thing was when you meet someone that five months later, and he's married her and with her, but it's been a difficult time for him. And he was, you know, lots of aspects, I think of his personality that he didn't want to acknowledge, check me out. So it wasn't an easy time. But it wasn't also easy for me, I certainly had taken on the full responsibility of five children, paying the mortgage, and then trying to sort that out trying to get a legal agreement. Plus, this was my year of doing all the case studies for my internship. Plus, within five or six months, I got involved with a woman from work. Let's hear relation fish relationship with a woman too. And that wasn't successful. Not surprising, because I wasn't such a nice, I tried various antidepressants because I had some very bad jobs. And that year, one, I've lost my memory and other one, I had floating two leaves and my peripheral vision. And another one I had nightmares a great big way to save my body. So I gave up those and decided Sherry was cheaper and visa. So prop myself up really with alcohol during the year, probably not necessarily getting drunk, but just taking the edge off. Sometimes I decided. So I think it took the edge off. And I decided that two negatives make a positive. So if you're depressed and you're headed to prison, then you might get a positive. That was my theory. I don't think anybody so [00:25:03] I'm still here. [00:25:04] So what impact on yourself did working with violent offenders and sexual offenders have on you? [00:25:13] I had an idealistic idea that wouldn't quite say that I thought I was could save women from being raped and attacked. But there was that element. And I thought about it, when I recalled what had happened to me as a child. And I had screamed to try and protect my mother. And so it was the same old, same old I was doing. Also, I had the option of working in a mental hospital or the prison. And the mental hospital was too difficult. I knew bed because my my brother, but I wasn't sure that I knew mad. And maybe that was too close to two, mankind's subconscious, we do a lot of reflection. It's been a lot of time, as a child sitting on a rock in the bush, reflecting on things so that I understood bed, particularly thief to burglary, and, and, and assault and so on. So that was my choice. And is, and that was where I came across. Of course, women are also did half a day at the women's prison. And that's where I met lesbians who ship girls. And that just blew me away, and all of them in the background of incest. And so on the one hand, I was seeing them and hearing these stories. And on the other hand, I was seeing six offenders who were read, read the children. And so it seemed to me that we could empty our prisons and mental hospitals have got rid of child abuse. Not all the offenders had a background of sexual abuse, but they certainly had been badly beaten, a lot of repressive Christianity, fundamental side, Christianity had been laid upon them, they were very, pretty screwed up people. And particularly, of course, I tried to call up anyone who was having sexual in prison ahead by 76, make contact with art. And I used to walk past the office to go to my office and Vulcan line in the Justice Department. So I would pick up magazines, magazines, and take them. Because the men I worked with the one or two women for drugs and so on, but those who had sexually offended on someone younger, heads, this repression, and I thought if they could, up the age of their desires, there was lots of clubs, and they're opening up and although it was still illegal, it was much safer if you went to, you know, resigned someone or something. So that was my aim the So I sort of use these connections to make my sort of therapy be somewhat different, probably from the behavioral cognitive behavioral model that we've been taught. [00:28:05] We've been many self identifying homosexuals in prison at that time. [00:28:12] No, they were really repressed. But they would identify, we are called them up. But the thing was, the president knew there were homosexual. I mean, you've got some, you did have some fairly astute ex Navy, Army, people working on the person who would enable soften and the probation file to because often they were other misdemeanors that we're raising, to loitering and so on, and certain toilets, so so I didn't, I don't think in all the time, that time in the 70s, I don't think I worked with anyone who was up on what would be just a normal relationship of sexual charge. For being homosexual, it was always under age, but that might have been because I had a particular interest there, or else it was related to drugs and so on. I can't think of anything it was, you know, two guys in love that that had been caught in public that I didn't come across any cases that I know it happens. And it did happen at that time, I'm sure but I didn't come across any in my practice, the so that naturally working with child molesters or to be liked, and hearing the women's stories, had been involved in a rate research project, and then a done one for the halfway house, the domestic violence center refuge on domestic violence. In fact, I cringe now, it's called the battered wives questionnaire. But we published it in women's weekly and got over 200 responses. And that was good to get some detail about the sort of offenses. And so I did the same for the sexual abuse of children. That was 1979. I'd won the zone, Jordan 77, and gone over to Australia. And there was quite a momentous year in 77. I also fell in love probably for the first time in my life, and realized that one would walk over hot coals to get to the other person runs, love and desire. It totally blew me away, it was an impossible situation. She was not out, really, although she was involved in the kg club. But she was only 20. And as 35 with five children, I mean, but I still feel like glow. And I think her and his and it gave me an emotional response that I'd never knew was possible. And but the same time, as I say, 77, I wonders entre Ward to another thing happened. I went to Australia, we I thought, big Australia, I would learn all about sex and sexual abuse, and they hadn't even got off the ground. They were even worse than us. And the recognition of why young people might be labeled delinquent and running away. No one thought the homes might not be very safe for the young person to stay at why would you want to sleep out on the street. And so I came back really determined to do something about the issue, which I then proceeded to do, I did the questionnaire 318. I also added to that by going and talking with a famous when I because I still thought it would be the big, you know, the man with Vegas sweet sort of approach? And I said, No, no, you wouldn't use sweets or anything to entice a young person. Yeah, that would be too far too risky, you'd get caught the fact that we're sitting present untamed across the mind. So as he explained to me, when they used bribes, it was always when they established a sexual, they called it relationship, I'd call it an abuse situation, they, the child got a bit wise to it and started to back off, that's when they use the bribes to try and keep it going. That's been all this time coaching and schooling a child to get them where they wanted. And then. So it was understanding that the sort of intricacies I suppose are people's behavior, why they did the things they did to get what they want, and how they've been maintained them, which made it then I realized how hard it is for us to change our behavior. And I'm, I lose my temper fairly easily. I have very labor blood pressure, until I shout and scream. And I used to try and do an alternative to shouting and screaming. And it's very hard. So if you're somebody loses their temper and punches someone incredibly hard to change their behavior. And so [00:33:01] I knew how hard it was for people to change. And so I tried to set up programs where they could avoid situations that would make it risky. So you know, don't ever stop your car at a park or a school if you're trying to be looking for underage kids sort of stuff. [00:33:20] So I had lots of [00:33:22] interesting and sort of novel ways. I got one guy always Master, he was an exhibitionist, he masturbated. He likes sunny days and like to take all his clothes off. So I got his wife to buy my cat wedding rings out with flash in the sunlight reminded me of this why. And that tended to be you know, the reaction would sort of disappear. With that reminder, also a photograph the family in the car, we turn the key off. But of course he reinvented because he lost the photo who came on stack or something, he lost his wedding ring. And so he sort of sabotage the things, the props that put in to try and make it work. So yeah, I decided it was very difficult to change, change people's behavior, but it helped if they had a lot of knowledge about it. So I still was on this pushing information out. In 1981, up, I wrote the sexual abuse of children. And that was published in the Mental Health Foundation to me around New Zealand and I spoke out about so I had public meetings plus workshops for social workers. And it was a very intense time. My mother also died in 1981. And I collapsed and had a mild stroke. It'll grab as much at to limp through management by objectives that the justice was doing. And then lived in 83 and worked a broadsheet for a year. And then I had managed to pay off. In a few short years, I had three mortgages and I manage pay them off. So I managed to work part time in for the Justice Department in 84. and enroll for a PhD and my PhD was on children's understanding and sexual orientation, almost certainly not to guarantee your work anywhere, mixing children or homosexuality seem to be quite difficult to do. But I really liked what I did. And I was hoping that Rob Tillman's and the University of new trick was going to try and copy my research the, but they couldn't get any parents to agree to let them talk to the children. So because it was actually asking children, you know, do you know what a gay man is? How would you know he's gay, and those sorts of questions. And it was quite difficult in New Zealand, getting a group I had a group or lesbian mothers. So that was a sort of subgroup. And then it was during having sexual law reform, in fact, helped me because there was a group set themselves up called high. And one of them heard I was having trouble getting subjects and he knew the minister at the local Anglican Church. And so he talked to me and he said, I'll ask my congregation there, most of my congregation are members of hack. And so he asked them, and they were all very happy, and I met all these wonderful people who are very supportive of my doing this research, because I thought, if we were going to stop homophobia, then we need to know what children know, and how they learn. Do they learn about human sexuality? As I theorize that they learned it? Justice, I learned all about other family relations about what cousins and grandfathers and so on roles. They learned about bride and groom, then that the extension of that is that maybe you could have two grams? Or, you know, could you that sort of idea. So that was my thrust for all that six years. [00:37:01] What would the findings of that research, [00:37:04] I found that [00:37:08] I was that I was able to go into the schools. And that was interesting that intermediate age, a third of the children just look blank when I wasn't allowed to use the words gay and lesbian and homosexual. So I had just show them pictures, and ask whether, if two men were living together, do we have a name for them, that sort of side and solid mother solid father, gaming and lesbian but and I'd also done, check that the new bride and groom and wife and husband those sort of terms, so I talked a bit about weddings. So that sort of set the scene. And I showed them pictures, websites, cue cards. And so and it was interesting, the younger ones all laughed and said to cook, if two men are together as one, a husband and a wife. And they all found that very funny, but not in Congress was the older ones horrified at the idea. But when you got to intermediate age, and they were about 11 years old, those a third of them knew and would say, guy, I food would look totally embarrassed, go read look at the floor and didn't come up with anything. And so they obviously knew it was a discriminating category with mice reading of the body language. And the other third, were blank, just passed the bar. Now, I think the age is probably much younger these days. But it did fit in with the other knowledge of social relations. And I had also had a discrimination task with a good post later from the boxes, family makes me angry. And this family makes me sad. And this family loves you a lot and my family's kind. And so I had all these things. And I must admit, the two men together got the angry and a lot of the bad ones, the solo mom got all the fancy ones. And sometimes the two women together, decided it would be really fussy. [00:39:03] To mothers, one mother was bad enough. [00:39:08] So that was interesting in itself. And then when I got the subgroups of children away from the schools, we are quick use the words gay and lesbian, then the same sorts of things that children from the Libyan mothers tend to be quite political, and they, how can you tell if a man was going to be wearing a pink triangle, or, you know, he had had long fingernails or something like this, he, you know, he'd flip around, and they had all these funny sort of ideas. And but the children from the straight, straight family came from the straight couples were much more probably more representative of how community and, and they two came up with the idea that he would be a female nut. And that he might have longer here or something to do and, and a number of them spoke about it, because that they obviously had probably had some contact with gaming because the family weren't hug, who probably came on demonstrations and so on, will say a family friends who were gay because one or two children were quite a student said he'd have a softer voice. And I thought that was quite astute, because that's the one thing I remember about my father being this great big burly farmer having this soft voice, because he had lived with him in 13 years before he married my mother. So I found that sort of interesting. So I finished that work and 1999 really graduated in 1990. I joined Charlie's and family just after the President had resigned in 87, side, a couple of years of when I didn't work, try and finish my PhD. And then I, because I've been involved, the International has been a gay Association, from sexual law reform. And because of that time, it was a really busy time, a lot of activism, of course, the Ph D got lifted, but because I was busy doing all these other things, and writing lots of places, and so on with john fidelity's, who is the other male [00:41:24] Secretary General, with that organization, just backtracking a wee bit, how did the law reform and New Zealand impact on the international organization? [00:41:33] Well, the international organization really pushed at New Zealand government and other governments who were dragging the chain on law reform, for having seizures. And so they were absolutely delighted, of course, because they chalked that up as one of these successes, they wrote leaders and they got a success. Because everyone who wrote leaders or be a duo, and that's what you need everyone thinking that their efforts made a difference, because that you do make a difference. And so it was, it was a great time, when the news came through, I was at a meeting at the Copenhagen Town Hall, and Radio New Zealand reporter told me that, uh, just being passed, and suggested that I announced it to the, to the crowd. So I looked around and so climbed on a chair and, and told everyone and, and all the dignitaries from Denmark of Copenhagen were there. And, and everyone got riding behind and thought it was great. And, you know, the glasses were raised, and so on. And I think he got quite a good interview. [00:42:44] Come back to New Zealand, at some point. So [00:42:50] because of that, of course, they invited me to be Secretary General. And I didn't realize how much time it would take. And also it would involve me going Europe every year. And, and I, and there was no funding, so I needed to pay for that myself. And I was there working part time on a PhD that I got one scholarship of truth to that no $1,000 is all I got to do that PhD over those six years, I've always had to work part time. And in those days, the regulations only allowed you to work six hours a week, I cheated and worked eight hours. And then I did another four out of the hours. But that I didn't tell them about. [00:43:34] But it was [00:43:37] a it was was that difficult to I was fortunate that it paid off my house. My older children had gone one was in medical school and he'd gone off to be a locum and so on. So they were moving out and I was able to have a flatmate sort of help pay the bills. So we we got by and I'm in a success story, save enough money to travel. By sleeping on floors, I think once I slipped in the archives that live on the lesbian archives, sit down all the books. And so he's sleeping on trains that sort of travel very much the young backpacker type travel. [00:44:20] So during the law reform period, did you were you active in terms of pulling submissions into pound [00:44:27] he is actually wrote it wrote a submission and I wrote a submissions, because I felt that there was a lot of information that I knew as a clinical psychologist from my work. Because people would sidle up to me when they knew as a psychologist and want to talk to me about things, lesbian clubs after a few drinks, and I would try and arrange for them to see me at some other time, they could come to the office and talk to me about what the problems were. And so in a very short time, I learned a lot about what had happened some days, particularly the ones often who had severe alcohol problems. They some had been raped by family members to make them straight, someone or to what's called now rate correction that's done in Africa to lesbians. So because of the this information not being out there and being talked about, I put it in my submissions. And in fact, Rob Muldoon was very interested in my submission, because I think he might have heard one or two stories because it's nice was it was this nice was a lesbian meet with the kg the illegal coyote club a few times and, and I'd also put about various people being not praying, so I just sent an riders and sign being homosexual and earlier and lesbian, Catherine Mansfield, and how that information was denied us so that we had no mentors. And what was the name of the educated minister of education? Wellington, I think isn't it was cast it on about saying all that sort of, I'd mentioned that the poet from that united states that has poems of love where two men, not women, whose name just completely escapes me anyway, it doesn't matter. Wellington anyways said that he'd studied him at university and what did I know my art my degree was in psychology, not English. And Muldoon, just Gediman the roots and said, you know, even your teacher didn't know, move, move willing commit with his name. So, there were some highlights. I suppose that was funny. But most of the content of my submissions were pretty grim reading. And I yeah, and and again, my emphasis was that we needed mentors, we needed people out there that we knew about, and hiding why in the closet wasn't the way to do it. [00:47:03] In fact, it was a disaster as far as I could see. [00:47:07] And you were also on the founding, or part of the founding board for the elites Foundation, New Zealand. [00:47:12] That's right. And and I think feminists found it a bit difficult. I mean, they had always seen me as sort of not conforming to the general political correctness and terms of lesbian feminism. I had got more involved with broadsheet when the lesbian split from project because I thought walking away is not going to have many, any more articles published on lesbianism, let's get involved and write them. And so and I did write a whole pile of articles for broadsheet. I'm not a great writer, not graded English, but Sandra Coney is a great tutor. And she went over my articles corrected them, she went over the sex abuse of children and put an emphasis on mothers and edited those for me and, and told me how to say things. But once I got on a roll and knew what I wanted, have to say is easier, but writing articles for magazines, as a certain type of style. And so she helped me a lot with that. And so them joining the AIDS Foundation, I think people found that a bit odd. And I said, Well, if aids get into the offending community, we will have a crisis of children with AIDS and no one thought of that. And that was probably one of the things that was really on my mind. Because I could not see how I tried to HIV would stay just in a homosexual population, because there was always a crossover. And, and the men who remain married, who just pick it up care, casual sex, and in toilets, and so on, and so on. So I knew there were if that was going to spread into the hip, sexual community, it was also going to spread into the offending community, who, summer who dabble and all sorts of things. Some are very entrenched and paedophilia, and are not going to venture out into the adult world, but others cross over considerably. And I could see that that was going to be could be a major problem. And I think my worst fears have not been realized. And I've been very happy about that. And, of course, in the early days, we've got lots and lots of misinformation. And again, and emphasize to me how important is to have the correct information. And also when there is a mistake to update it quite quickly. I found a lot of that quite frustrating. Trying to, like we had the a support network or some fault. And before we actually got the AIDS Foundation up and running. And we're Bruce Burnett. And he was a marvelous guy, in fact, of all the information that he brought back so generously and gave us from the experience of the United States and, and I had been to the United States several times to and had a efe idea of how the the big change in New York for me was to go the one year, and it was just you know, the bookshops and the gainers, and nightclubs and a fantastic time. And then the next time is the pink triangle and silence dear. And some of the big venues gay venues were now hostels for men with HIV, they were eliminated stalls trying to raise money. There were so many men and wheelchairs, it was shocking to me. And, you know, so he sort of came back to New Zealand and thought, you know, we've got to get on top of this, [00:50:50] what year was that? [00:50:52] The change was between 1982 and 1984. When are we back [00:51:00] 1996. By the end, it was very bad. [00:51:05] And you'd go to a bookshop, and you'd hear the book owner saying all the funerals at such and such a time it just so often. [00:51:13] I'm still friendly with Ed, [00:51:17] handsome, first name, I just ate it, no humans. He runs Giovanni's Room and Philadelphia and he's always sold my books. And his co owner years ago, I stayed with when I was in, that must be 1984 maybe. And, and I do a kitchen content. And I've been in contact with all these years. And we still write to each other. And, and yeah, the the sort of, he sort of feels like his range of friends that he's known all this time is so so small, that the community was hit so much with the HIV virus that he has very few friends of his own age who were out and about at that time. So it just really decimated many of their organizations. And I think was a very difficult time for the gay community in the United States. And we were lucky that we had that in we're not lucky that about the whole virus thing, but lucky that we had that information early and could get in and and make some changes. And so that that was really cool. But it also made me very conscious of lesbian health, because when I went to Norway, that was not about 1987. I had foolishly thought I could have a relationship with someone who lived in Tromso, which is a three hour flight from Oslo. And I went by train, it took me two and a half days. Because by the time I got there, she had a brand new girlfriend but that was a word. It's impossible. Any new to Leo's give me a bright, it's not going to work. So in Tromso, they had, they were handing out leaflets and so on on HIV at that time, and they had been given a pink bus by the Norwegian government, because there's so much money being poured into the gay male community for it because of the HIV virus. Then the government said, Well, we have to do the same for the women, what can we supply for the women. So they gave them a pink password, lots of health information, and it toured the whole of Norway, taking information to women about breast cancer from Bruce Jacobs, and cervical cancer and so on. And it's a real pity that we didn't have that back here, because so many at the lesbian Museum, we have a remembrance poll, and so many of the women on our remembrance, Paul died of breast cancer. So, you know, and I guess because of the numbers, that pushed me into doing research on lesbian health, because I could say that we are more likely to have fatalities if you delay going to the doctor. And the was some suggestion that lesbians delay going to the doctor from research done in the United States. So I did the survey 795 women responded. And sure enough, it was a bad result really, for lesbians, because they do delay going to the doctor, for many quite complex reasons, scenes, but we haven't managed to do any research. Admittedly, we got no funding for this. I've never had any research funded. Except through an organization like a pit when I did underage prostitution that was funded. And I actually got paid to do the lesbian health, I went on the dollar, and got paid $147 a week to [00:54:58] make you mad. [00:55:00] It's just the I'm too busy doing the work. I mean, it was a long, hard slog. So I just got in grace to do the work. I think what made me said was I really wanted to call the report butcher the Butch, because they delay going to the doctor worse than straight mean. But because my co author was at university, at the medical school, she wanted a more academic title. For the report, we did get a little bit of funding in the end, not for the actual research, but to publish the report. So we could photocopy it and bind. Because $147 a week isn't going to cover those costs. The only way to survive is I sell my house and buy cheaper one, I might end up in a Gareth janeiro he has my expression could be angled, I suppose. But I came from only the. So I did that. And then of course, I've got involved more with setting up the Lisbon museum. And that came out of not finding anything that was available, because again, I think no one should have the misery that I suffered from lack of information. [00:56:18] Because [00:56:21] it's there, it's available, but nobody put has put it together. And so I really wanted to have some mentors for young people there, there should be a history should be available for young people. So it's okay, we still our latest statistics are still showing a high number of gay men and lesbians are still attempting or thinking about suicide and getting depressed, and sometimes committing suicide. So we, we still have a problem. And I think that problem can be helped. There's more out people, not only the celebrities, of course all the gossip guys about, but just ordinary folk. If we could all be more open, then there's a good example. And it's the same as it was really the same. If we could all talk about sexual abuse, I thought it would stop. That was a bit naive of me. And while we do have much better systems now than when I was a child, I was abused three times, but by three, three different opinions more than three times but but there was nothing, then I wouldn't have told a soul given the other things that were going on for me. [00:57:43] I wasn't about to tell anything. [00:57:46] And so there are much better systems now. But we're still not really getting to the crux of enabling young people to get through adolescence in a better way. Without them feel that the world's against them. We have very few role models that we could grasp If I had known one, if I had clicked that. I knew that teachers at our school live together. But I didn't transfer that across that they were homosexual, I couldn't really went short. One was short, but she was with a tall girl, tall woman. We used to call them back and spade. But it just didn't enjoy it. It's again, it's this information that if we give information. So if we tell these beings that there's a tendency for you to delay going to the doctor, will they improve I'm not sure there was a over 12 years ago that we did that research and it hasn't 11 two islands followed up a bit. But the equations were a little bit different, for different and I'd like to see that research being done again. But I think I might be a bit too old to do it myself. And hopefully it will be funded next time and have therefore more respectability, because it seems that things that get funded, have respectability. But I guess I'm used to being outside of right when I spoke out about the sexual abuse of children during the 80s and about lesbian mothers, and I used to try and keep those two issues quite separate. So when I published Amazon mothers that regardless being mothers, and I use the mechanism that I use for sexual abuse books, of poking them into the end of their family court, I knew some of the family court counselors through my work with sexual abuse. So I gave them my copy of Amazon mothers, and they thought this would be great for the family court judges. So I gave them copies, I often didn't sell books I gave them. We gave away the sex abuse of children, 500 of them to social workers around the country. We gave away as a mother's to the courts. Suddenly, the judges realized, well, he was a bunch of lesbians rearing children, the world had ninos. They didn't know any lesbians. Well, very few of those judges knew women who loved women and had children. So all they knew the only lesbians that I knew were coming through the criminal court, pinching your Carol sold or something. So the range suddenly opened up, and I could understand so. So I guess I'd had quite a bit of success, and then stopped doing the nasty custody cases that they'd been doing out of ignorance before that. So I had some success in terms of giving information, putting it in a book, making it available to the right people, and getting some success. But of course, I did get a lot of flack from journalists about the one and four. I had us Kinsey's figures that suggested that one in four girls would be sexually abused before she turned 16. And for a long time, I that was the only research ahead and then rape crisis to the bit of a survey in a school. And they came up with one and three, I thought that was a bit alarming and stuck the one and four. And then the Otago research came up with one and three, one and four, one and five depending on how you define sexual abuse. If you defined it very broadly, include exhibitionism then it was one and three if you include a just genital penetration, and it's one on five, but other molestation in terms of physical catching would be one and four. So we're back to the one and four after all those years of being lambasted. And so and still people try and knock that I think lyst So in the last maybe five years, but I know when I was on the children's agenda, we still had problems with people having a go at that statistic. It's like shooting the messenger instead of dealing with the problem, which is a common I think, reaction. And sometimes one needs to understand why do we react and say a strong way to something. Understanding that then makes us realize that we can sometimes be blind to what's affecting ourselves. And if we deal with that, then we're open to a lot more things in the in the day to day life and, and to other people and often assist other people. So I suppose over the years, I have chosen to talk out about subjects. You know, I've even run my masturbation workshops, things, and the heyday of the 80s. [01:02:41] And talked about six and the usefulness of six, not only as an expression of love between two people, but sometimes for health reasons, and all sorts of other reasons that it's part of our whole physical makeup. [01:02:57] And [01:03:00] so it's been an interesting journey. And a lot of what I've done has actually had a political base, but not probably an obvious political base to other people. It's like my art doesn't always appear to be political until you think about subject matter. And then mostly, it's about our lack of ancestors and lack of knowledge. Because certainly for women's history has not been handed down. It's very piecemeal, and least you gave birth to a prince or a king, you're not really mentioned. And certainly if you're alive with Well, a warmth, it's very hard to track that history down as we're finding you go on the internet looking up spinsters? You know, it's it is difficult to get information hidden away in people's attics and cabins and things [01:03:56] or else bird. Can you talk for a moment on really interested with the Charlotte museum? And also some of your earlier work? How the difference between personal energy and collective energy, for instance, with the Charlotte museum? If you weren't there and establishing it, do you think it would exist, survive continue on? [01:04:22] No, I think that [01:04:25] because I have been so stubborn. [01:04:29] To start with, we had a display in another building, and then I got a venue. That was the trust felt a bit expensive, but it was a nice place, and we thought we were going to see it something as needed to look good. Because, you know, you could imagine, you know, for stained old t shirts on a display stains not going to look very good, unless you have it in a nice surrounding and like an art gallery. And not because of last night exhibit. have, you know, white walls and so on. So, idea. And so that's what we did for two years, but it was crippling $2,000 a month, we paid and rent. And so I mean, I've spent some of my own money and paying that rate towards the end, it was very difficult to raise. And so we closed at Lyft. And within, then over Christmas, nothing happens anyway, everyone goes to the beach. So then we reopen and the space we've got now, which is still $1,000 a month, we have to raise that it's more possible. And we have raised that this year. But we really want a permanent time. Because the work we've done, we've done so much in this time, we've managed to put out a general book which I put together sort of cobbled together bits and pieces about lesbian music lesbian lizard. So we had this mixture for Enbridge nice a couple of friends Oh, he says for it, and another friend laid out and so on all these collective of people who contributed. And the recent Stan, a little book on early lesbian theater, and then we've done and currently we're laying out one on early lesbian music. And we've made a film with Andrew Whiteside on that, that was funded by lotteries. And we've got a one on sport that was funded by glorious trust. So we've got a book plus a banner we've done on lesbian sport. I mean, we didn't have too many, very many hours, paid research for that. So it's just a taste really of what we could do if we had more funding. And we've got a researcher at the moment working on early taqa, top three in Oakland, and we've got another one on early this pm networks and Auckland and another one working on work and open. So it's all these balls, sugar. So this, if we can get the funding, then there's no people interested in doing the race search. But at the same time, we're still trying to set up the museum so that it complies with museum standards set by to papa. And while we've done most of it to a reasonable standard, we've now finally got funding for someone to go through and work with all of us tonight to see where we could do better. So we were quite pleased when we've got those completed, hopefully at the end of this year 2011 and can send a copy of to to pop up and we'll be a real Museum, then I think, [01:07:35] do you think something like the Charlotte museum should be part of to Papa, or a national kind of Museum, or should it be a separate entity that looks after its own kind of niche [01:07:46] area, I think it has to be a separate in entity to look after. Because when we think about what happened to the Oakland Museum, when all the specialists became generic, if they can do that just with one decree, then you could it would be very difficult for someone to understand how lesbian music make community unless you were there, or you have a solid understanding of how lesbians work as a group. And it is different. They they hear the whole clique to doesn't get PMT at once, but it is a factor. So you have to work with what what you have and collectives come and go. Because the whole idea of having a collective process means it's long and laborious. And volunteers come and go because they they like more like me, I like things to be cut and dried. And I don't really want to spend three hours thrashing out something, I just want the list made of what's critical and what's not practical. And let's go with what's most practical and what we can have. But I guess that's the way I've lived my life. So I tend to like things like that my children always said Iran, a matriarchal dictatorship. [01:09:12] But they didn't mind. [01:09:15] Because I did the dishes every night, because I like doing dishes, that children leave you alone when you do the dishes. So it's very rewarding. So some things I do are rewarding. But I do worry that if I dropped in today about the museum continuing, I have set up a small fund of money that is owed to me that would be paid to the museum and stayed to pay someone to do what I've been doing. But that would maybe only last for a couple of years so that I have to start funding themselves. And that's a worry. And that's why I really want to push the shear to get a permanent space that's more affordable, that certainly community, I do think it needs to be a community based Museum, that many of our other liberal museums, that they can then maintain a specific focus, and it doesn't get watered down, or it doesn't get diverted into something else. I think that it would have when I saw what happened to the gay and lesbian exhibition in the Brisbane Museum, and how it started off very gay and lesbian and how it changed the headings, the wordings and so on were changed by the museum staff who did not understand why those particular words had more meaning, because they do not understand the concepts behind that many of the aspects of gay and lesbian live. Can you think of an example? There was a long argument, I think, keeping sissy and sissy and puffs, for instance. I can't think that was another adequately chat. So hopefully they changed the words but not to my notes. I can't remember. too old. [01:11:01] So this project is called making a difference. And it's all about making positive difference within the community. And I'm just wondering if you had any advice for somebody that's thinking, How do I make a difference? How, where do I start? I mean, what would your advice be? [01:11:24] The first thing is to you don't have to find a cause. Just find something you're interested in and get involved as a volunteer. There are heaps of organizations out there mess or something of not for profit organizations who depend on volunteers. Just and it's amazing what what you can come up with to university students from Otago worked with a pet childhood in Auckland this year, this Christmas holidays, and they walked from the south to the north outlining the problems of prostitution. Now, it wouldn't have happened 10 years ago, I don't think but it's happening today because of the internet and so on. But also what a great way to publicize a difficult to talk about topic. And to young people. What's more, so it's not the old gray fogies who bantering on about it for so long. It's young people are sort of picking up the casual and going with it. And so there's lots of activities like that, that where you can make a difference. You can get out and publicize things, you can talk about things. You can also do a lot of hands on, you know, planting trees or whatever your interest is. There's heaps, that, that can be done and needs to be done by volunteers, because We can't pay people to do everything that we would like done in our community as much as we would like to pay people. That's one of the things we're setting up the museum people sort of said, Oh, well, I hope you're getting well paid for all the work you're doing. I said, I'm on the trust on the secretary of the trust, no Trust Board member gets paid for anything. And they found that a difficult concept that people would work so hard for many hours without getting any reward a financial reward. But financial reward isn't what people like us seek. It's see it making a difference and seeing a change. That is the most rewarding thing I think that we can do. In our lives. It's feeling that we've come onto the earth and made a difference while we were here. For a long it was [01:13:42] this program was funded by a generous grant from the gay Oakland Business Association charitable trust. For more information, visit gather.org.nz id
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