Shelley Te Waiariki Howard - homosexual law reform

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[00:00:00] This program is brought to you by pride in 1990s. I [00:00:06] was living with my wife and son and living here in lower hats at the time of wife, and our first house and early part of the 80s. I was with a territorial force unit based in panettone. And by the time the six year old Reform Act was being considered, I was part of the Ministry of Defense which director it and working out of the Freiburg building, just opposite permanent sort of close to the action but not really a part of it, so to speak. Yeah. And, and very much imbued in that binary normative life of playing the heterosexual male doing those good soldier the things and [00:00:57] very much in the process of [00:01:01] I was gonna say, discovering myself, but I, the only thing I really discovered at that time to be honest as, as a young woman, two floors below me, who inspired the name have finally taken on. So, yeah, Shelly, can be your last name here. But she was a rather striking woman. action by certainly today's standards of a woman she was she was a curvy woman, but proportionally, Caribbean, quite stunningly attractive. She had Italian heritage, she had that lovely olive complexion, and that typically fiery, Italian matriarchal, short temper, she broke no nonsense, and I admired her greatly because of her independence and into obvious strength. and combine that with the attractiveness install, and I thought [00:01:59] that you will model more shelf on with them when the day comes. [00:02:03] We friends with it? [00:02:04] Yes, we were, she'd been a girlfriend, I guess would be the judge wasn't I didn't think she was a partner was your girlfriend. And I [00:02:15] have a colleague of mine. [00:02:18] And so that's how I sort of came to [00:02:23] know about her. But my job and the administrative job she was doing, even though we're on different floors require us to sort of cross paths from time to time. So there's a professional interest. But yeah, [00:02:38] it was one of those little odd things where [00:02:42] my, my attraction for her was, in the sense of like, my attraction for a lot of women in those those days was my attraction was for how they represented how I would love to be if I could be a woman. And I hadn't really resolved the fact that I could be at that point. And so I was a, I was an interested observer in the, in the homosexual law reform that was was taking place around that time. But I'll confess, I was pretty much part of the paradigm, particularly providing in the military at that time about homosexuality and the implications that it might have for life and the military. [00:03:26] And [00:03:28] it was easy to [00:03:31] Brooklyn to buy into the fear, I guess. And I think that's the right word to use the fear that, that that would involve all kinds of sexual propriety and change of and disciplinary issues. Following on from that, and the way in which we went about our business, but the discussions we're having that were happening in the water cooler communities through the media, and as we're having that effect of sort of the media writing some of those fears in a way to that there was a, you know, what the hell kind of an attitude, one of the providing jobs was on, you know, YB, long before they make a compulsory sort of thing is, and then while it was a I think it was made on a kind of a derogatory scenes that represented the uncertainty I guess, and, and guys who, probably patina, who claim to be hitter normal. [00:04:35] And [00:04:37] the fact that, you know, they felt, maybe the alarms are going to be changed remarkably, because homosexuals were going to take over over the military and, and change the way we did business or something up. It was it was just turned out to be totally unfounded. But, you know, when there's when these things are unknown, because I've never been part of your normal, just course, in part of your normal narrative. It does create fears and trauma. [00:05:06] So you will you will with your wife, and you had a son, yeah. [00:05:11] Did you know of any people who were imagined people in the military would closet at that time? Did you know anyone who you felt was in the closet? [00:05:23] That was one of the things I had? No, I think I felt certain that there must have been, you know, we heard about the ratios like one and five. [00:05:35] And a group of [00:05:38] I was commanding a team of about 130. So based on the ratios, the probability that someone within the group was in some way, queer identifying, well, queer not identify as the as the system required, sort of in those days, it was pretty high. And of course, I kind of I guess I saw myself as being I didn't see myself as being a guy at all. I think I felt entirely heterosexual. But I knew I knew I was something. But I didn't really at that time really have have a place for myself, which is a big part of my confusion. And so why I played so how did the male normative role thing, and I think that was safe for a lot of the queer people at that time. [00:06:38] The we did have, though, and [00:06:43] within the military, a civilian employee. [00:06:47] He was a financial advisor, Charles Jones, I'll mention his name because Charles unfortunately, I believe, has passed away. And, in fact, I think believe he was killed. Not too many years ago, Charles was outwardly gay, he was quite camp and and he thoroughly delighted and upsetting the hitcher normal paradigm he would, because he was his station within the civilian employees. He frequently the officers, Mr. And he loaded, delighted and nothing more. Then sidling up to the box young officers full of themselves and the and the masculinity and, and challenging the monitor. And yeah, he had a quite a great way of discomforting people. And, and yeah, it was just, I didn't have any way of dealing with it. Because the behavior was so foreign to the guys in the army. It's the senior officers thought it was fabulous. I'm not sure they encouraged them, but they didn't discourage them either. So here's my challenge child became quite a Fiverr. With, with some very prominent military people in [00:08:01] he was a civilian role [00:08:03] very much in a civilian role. So yeah, there was nobody that I knew at that time, who was outwardly guy, there were some ex service people who spoke out. And I think I remember one, relatively senior officer, Lieutenant Colonel can't remember his name. [00:08:32] But he, he spoke out of band, [00:08:36] that he was guy that he served his career and that, you know, he'd been in, I think Vietnam. And those sorts of things, to a brand realization started me questioning a lot to about, like, [00:08:55] my grandfather being in the Great Wall. [00:09:00] And just started to wonder how many how many homosexuals and, and lesbian, identifiable even transgender people went away there. And probably, how many of them went away with that underlying sense that I had, when I joined the military, which was just post Vietnam, the idea of taking an honorable suicide, that, you know, I'd be the one to lead the charge so that I could go down. Rather than pulling the trigger myself, get myself into a position where the bad guy shoots me down during the glorious Charge of the Light Brigade sort of thing. And we are we are, I could kill myself effectively, but do it with honor that didn't detract from the honor of the family and everything else. It might be realized too, and that sort of thinking how many people must be in the military, you have similar kinds of thoughts. Suicide touched on various, very many forms and having looked at myself, I suspect that that's part of the reason why a lot of a lot of queer identified people are struggling to make it outside might actually join the military is a good place to hide people don't go looking for qualified in an army type situation. It was a bit different but that was one was compulsory. Sorry, that's just a bit of a disservice rival [00:10:34] your army [00:10:36] army person? Yeah. I was Yeah, yeah, me was the real granting place name, the macho, hands on masculine, had graph type of thing. And then within that, I was engineer's, which was sort of the motto of the motto argues in a way the wasn't that we were there shoving banners and people and doing everything and all that sort of come better stuff. But you know, the work we did was was very physical and and demanding, and, and filling that that same engineering paradigm? [00:11:14] When did you join the army? [00:11:17] Oh, gosh, I joined the territorials I'm going on the ninth to 12th force intake with my high school friend in January of 1975. And I almost signed up when I at that point after completing the territorial trading, but I felt a lot each my, my employer, pardon me, the word with my employer seem to be tiling away. And the business She subsequently should have wound up when I'm down, graduate. And then I was talking on the military size side a 12 months later, I signed up and been invested into the engineers. [00:12:03] Like 130, I think I was on [00:12:06] So did you join territories 18 years old, or [00:12:11] now it's been a hold of [00:12:14] me for so I was 20. [00:12:17] And then in the army, [00:12:19] and then join the regular force year The following year, as a 21 year old and as a soldier and got involved in a whole lot of activities and training laws and all of the courses which I perform quite well and that encouraged much more seniors to suggest it I might try for some high station within the thing. So I ended up going away in attaining a regular officer selection board and sharing it on ours not enjoying it on on spent learning how to be an officer at work, you do have some training, possibly a training company there and conditioning into that year. [00:13:08] And the rest is history, so to speak. [00:13:11] Well rank Did you get to [00:13:13] eventually made it to my job, I had no, I didn't really have many aspirations beyond their there was always a fear of discovery that company, [00:13:28] higher station [00:13:32] that's interesting. I've often thought about how I treated my fear of discovery of my femininity, or my inclination towards femininity. And, and why I was so driven by fear. And it's intriguing that I wasn't fearful for myself, if I don't think I was fearful for those things, those the sense of shame when the dishonor and everything else on my brain to all the things I cared about, which included the military, I really, I mean, I really enjoyed my time in the army, the opportunities are created for me. [00:14:13] And [00:14:16] so yeah, and then buying further into that paradigm I having children and everything else, it just sort of white, even even more heavily upon me that sort of responsibility. And, and so the fear of discovery became greater, the further up the ranks, and the more scrutiny I was under. And so while there was an element of ambition, and there was also this other thing is I hold back sort of thing. And it doesn't mind me one day head did being a much more open and accepting regime within the military that, that permitted people to be all that they could be just how much more I might have been, I might allow myself to be in there, but it's all conjecture now. So as you know, I have no regrets. [00:15:07] What would they have been able to discover? [00:15:11] While I was [00:15:15] all my life, I have spent all my life trying to trying to reproduce my femininity, which my desire to express my femininity usually came and creasing feminine. And, you know, sometimes venturing out mostly at night, dark or whatever. And, and, and dangerous places, I guess would be the right term. Because, you know, I, I couldn't, because of all that fear, I couldn't go and venture into local cinema or anything else. And, and, of course, being so fundamentally butcher I guess, would be the term and that the I, I never felt that I could express myself as possibly feminine. So that increased my my chances of being recognized and discovered. [00:16:14] So, yeah, [00:16:18] those, those those that need to express myself would manifest at any moment, there was nothing that I I planed or anything else it was, it was just that, that need to express that femininity would would come upon me and and I would find, try and find it. But at the end, I'd have to, I'd have to express in some way and and all those ways would be considered in an order of narrative. And appropriate and surely would have been inappropriate to to the military. And of course, that would be exacerbated by the fact that honors, reasonably high station being a commissioned officer. [00:17:04] Were you at risk of being arrested? [00:17:07] for allegedly dies, potentially, yeah. So the places I was hanging out, I was saying that I needed to go with the gay community sort of hang out, what I didn't understand is that really, guys were interested in me at all because of my femininity. But that seemed to be in my naivety and everything else, that seemed to be the place to go. I didn't I didn't really understand the drag shame, but I didn't, I didn't see that drag community as being being mine. The interactions I did have, which were few and far between with [00:17:53] any were transgender [00:17:56] just didn't quite, [00:17:59] quite register me. [00:18:02] And so I was I was sort of lost in this in this identity thing. And I honestly believed for all the time I was in the military and was on growing up until I left the military until few years after I left the military. I honestly believe that was absolutely unique and, and just some revelation that had no, no like, anywhere else in the world. [00:18:30] Who did you talk to about it, [00:18:31] nobody didn't speak to me about it. So they all worked out myself and the internet came to my name. I am [00:18:40] the internet and an underground [00:18:45] scene media scene. [00:18:49] I linked up with a group here. By that time I was living in hot Valley. And I kind of the intro it had exposed me to, to a quite a lot I I kind of thought sissy boys site sort of thing might be for me. And I went into into some sites that were around at the time. And it was interesting reading the forums and, and so forth, because all of a sudden, I realized, my God, I'm not unique, I'm not this one off, here are people who share the same fears, you know, lifestyles that trapped in a, trapped in the normative lifestyle with family and everything else. They think like me genuinely love their families, the families in the world that created but it was incomplete because of this desire to express the femininity, but unable to do that with the people they live. Because of the the trade of illusion and the shame and one, there's other things that associated with it. And so we're all living this double life, and all of it fraught with fear of discovery and all sorts of stuff. And, and, of course, in that sort of environment, you live in a you live in a sort of an imaginary world and endure imagine imagination takes you any way UQ to go sort of thing. So there's a lot of fantasy and other stuff attached to attached to the, to the forum discussions and everything else. But when you fold it through those things, you could start to start to identify these common characteristics and everything else and I started to realize it that maybe I was transgender that and reading these articles and hair and seeing transsexuals at the side, Tyrion at a ski scheme to do that. The cross Trisha Meyer, just enjoy wearing his wife's knickers or whatever, off to work sort of thing. We're all of us somewhere on a on a scale or gray scale of non binary gender. And, you know, somewhere along that way, we find our comfort place that, that allows us to express ourselves without, without compromising other things that might be important to us, to us. But I still didn't feel like I had a place where I could go and do that. And that's sort of drew into the BBC thing. And that proved an unusual and enlightening experience in and of itself. [00:21:45] I learned the difference between tolerance and acceptance. [00:21:49] Which is a big part of what's going on in society. Even now, I think. [00:21:56] What What do you mean? [00:21:59] A lot of people are we think that we're shifting are actually tolerant. But they're still stuck on either a binary sort of a construct or whatever construct that, that that that I formed of, they will view Seton net, and that worldview, but they'll tolerate somebody having a different perspective on things, but that might accept it. So [00:22:24] one of the interesting discussions [00:22:26] it's not to do with so much with sexuality, but one of the interesting discussions I used to have with with people when they started talking this dominant versus submissive type thing. And there's any number of these cycle dominance, who, who talk about putting on their dome hat and playing, like playing a role. I know we all play a role in life in general. But when somebody when somebody goes into a scene like that BDS insane, whether it's groups union, replace eating, or whatever, with somebody else. And in order to do that, they have to adopt a persona in order to fulfill the role that they want to want to play in that thing. You know, they're truly a dominant, rather, just to talk. And so when somebody would say to me that, you know, that put on the dome hit and carry out a performance or whatever else, I would question them. And so when you take your head off, you're still dominant. And if they're not still dominant, then I would argue that not dominant, there are top. But they don't want to see that because by being not being a dominant means that they that they can exercise, that control and so forth that they're looking for. And so then it starts to open up the discussion about the misogyny or whatever else. And so needless to say, I I didn't make many friends. I had many friends within the same same because I asked the hard questions and, and I challenged them on at the same time with somebody who's on who might have been a sadist. And, and if I say, what would you play with me? And they said, No. And they play with woman? As if you're a scientist? Yeah. [00:24:24] Surely the canvas doesn't matter. Doesn't matter. [00:24:28] Yeah, I enjoy pain or receiving pain. So why Why what? What's your problem with administering pain to me if you're a scientist on the sexual ciders? And you know, which I know, you're a misogynist. But it was, it was enlightening. It really taught me a lot about people. And and I've seen those parallels with those sorts of discussions within the queer community as well. [00:24:55] And, and and life in general. [00:24:58] When we first started funders, communities. [00:25:04] Gosh, it was a few years after I left the military [00:25:09] would have been early 2000s. I think by then, yeah. Yeah, it was. Because I went into another relationship with a woman who is I'm pleased to say I still have an attached relationship with but my femininity got in the way of that, that relationship? Quite, quite you really, but yeah. Laura was remarkably intelligent and capable woman. And, and has had an understanding of what I was going through, because she, she actually took the time to research. So she understood how I couldn't not do my feminine thing. And she, we had an arrangement wish she could allow me to express that when I needed to. But it wasn't enough as I started to explore my, my femininity, and and, yeah, I was a little bit like a racehorse in the, in the starting gates at that point. I was ready to bolt. So. And, yeah, it's kind of sad in some ways, but but I'm, I'm really grateful that, that I had Lauren and her family in my life at that time. I'm sorry, for the way things wound up between us. But But yeah, it was it was good for me. I think having that having that time and, and having to discover myself too. And the fact that yeah, it was no, it was it was no longer any opportunities to play half games that I I just had to bite the bullet and take the chances [00:26:57] Do you find for yourself that the passing of the homeless law reform legislation, and then later the human rights legislation that they had, that you felt that they had much impact on your life, [00:27:08] not at all, which they [00:27:12] haven't sexual Law Reform didn't seem to apply to me, because I still saw myself as as heterosexual. I, I didn't really find mean, male sexually attractive. And so for me, it was kind of irrelevant. For me, personally, and that's where context and but I, but I was forming a very much the view that, you know, didn't matter. The role. Not so much the role, the head being the role later on when the because when the hundred six year old format was passed, and ministry had an exemption. And so the, the initial passing of the egg didn't greatly affect the military. And we just sort of rolled on and wipe the hands of society out there and see what they're going to do. But we will witness to changes and stuff. And, and we could see that it didn't didn't have that horrendous effect on on the way people conducted their lives that that we we anticipated model before in the military. It was later in the early 90s, when, when the exemption was went up for review and was subsequently rescinded. And yeah, that was an interesting time for by that time I had reached the rank of major was in charge of the School of military engineering. And I had a responsibility as the head of core to represent [00:28:52] soldiers within my area. [00:28:56] When we get together and discuss postings and development of careers, and promotions, and courses and other things, that people under, under the auspices needed to develop and further their careers. And part of my responsibility was while Yuri, engineers, Dyson, and YU, and we had a about the time the review was coming up for I think it's seeking readings. So submissions were being sought, for and against for those subcommittee discussion. And about that time, we had an incident where we're one of one of the people unders loosely under my control, my, my auspices [00:29:51] of being right, [00:29:53] crashed out after having a nada boozing and one of the bars and staring back to his parents. It collapse in a drunken hate, and he was found and in a compromising state, and had been sexually assaulted. And so that's it up an investigation as you as you would imagine. In a few days after the investigation is carried out, I was started a living in single senior he was found hanged in his Eric ring. And the story as it unfolded, was it that Sergeant had come out as day to his to his family. And the family decided to threaten them with all sorts of repercussions. And so in desperation, he joined the military in the heart that being amongst the bride, she would be [00:30:58] cured. [00:31:01] I'm not sure how he lived his day jobs, of course, but he said come to this particular opportunity. And he assaulted this soldier and couldn't live with the shame and the dishonor that it created from this really sad thing was that [00:31:22] one of my Dean peers [00:31:25] from another call [00:31:28] was using that incident to justify why homosexuality should continue to be should be exempted from should not be allowed and legalized within the military. And he came, he came to my office at the school and, and asked me to sign up to this petition and submission that he was written. And I refuse to. I pointed out to that that was ridiculous that, too, that if we didn't have that stupid law, we could have avoided the double tragedy that had occurred. And we would still have to fully functioning, competent soldiers doing good work for your community. And you're you're going to carry on with that stupid stuff that should I'm sorry. That's it. He and I never spoke again after that. But I'm yeah, I had no problems with it by that stage. And [00:32:34] I'll use [00:32:36] Yeah, we would, I thought we'd moved on. I heard [00:32:41] when you leave the military was set around when you started to seek out more people or more understanding of what where you're at in the world? [00:32:53] Well, my marriage should pretty much disintegrated by that point. It was hanging on three [00:33:03] for various reasons, but [00:33:07] we both had a part to play. And I've realized since that my living that double life that I that I had, and throughout that relationship was effectively me cheating on on here, even though I was cheating with my other persona. And Reggie, my other persona, it was an effect that it was just as dishonest as if I was being with with another woman or whatever. And so [00:33:39] yeah, [00:33:41] we've grown apart quite significantly. And I mean, so I am. So my marriage was disintegrating. I'd just clicked on almost 21 years, just under 21 years in the Army by that side. [00:33:56] And so I, [00:33:58] I don't know, if I'm gonna make a change and do something with my life, then, you know, this is the time. And so I got out and looked around. And I'd seen this opportunity, but this charter fishing business that had a and I am a fishing retail outlet attached as part of the setup. And I thought there's something I was really interested in and field that I wanted to get involved in as a charter Skipper. So I thought yeah, that's, I'll push for that. And yeah, definitely. Not such a wise choice. But but it was a fun time. I, I had that scholarship because she was registered as a ship, even though she was any gene and a half meters long. And the water line I had had here until early 2000s was when I saw that Michelle did up to open, which was an adventure in and of itself. [00:35:01] Have you ever thought of or have you lived overseas? [00:35:04] Yeah, yeah, I lived in. I was posted to Singapore for for a couple of years. The huge to us a Mystery Mansion in Singapore, nothing It worked out. And he spent six months in the Middle East. Those are the longest duration posts and a lot of short other short term as well. spent six months doing a course in Australia. [00:35:30] I guess that's a living knee. [00:35:33] And then a lot of other shorter duration trips around the world and to other locales. Yeah. All very much associated with military. [00:35:43] And [00:35:47] yeah, we did have an engineer when I was in the Middle East. Again, we had a there's a civilian employee contractors. He's a Brit, one of the cooks and he was quite openly gay. He [00:36:08] really was [00:36:10] there was a party one night and he dressed himself up in a nun's outfit. And and he had a light arrangement battery light rain was shut up with a light he got Chris a switch and he had this light flashing about as growing underneath his nun's habit thing but quite visible. And there was a little signal trick that he went out drinking there's a lot of drinking down in the in the base camp area that back then and he'd been partying up with some of the Americans at one of the American mouths and apparently he and one of the soldiers went back to one of the others barracks [00:36:55] and some mph or other we're moving [00:37:01] watching and Judah said I followed followed the men to court them in a compromising situation. So he was packed up and sent back to to the UK and I think the the American soldier was based on the summary dismissal. So yeah, yeah, I think that's Yeah, that back then wasn't 1986 so now we were still we would have had the same sort of outcomes and Mike's f3 with us all just that on to it was still illegal for still illegal for [00:37:45] soldiers to engage in homosexual acts. [00:37:49] Where do you find your community now? [00:37:53] everywhere? I find I [00:37:57] I found it really difficult to associated with any of the trans groups even agenda. In the early days, I I attended a I thought I would try and get some support through associating with with agenda. But I returned barbecue one time and there's a connection people near and it was there was a lot of politics going on. But there was also the expectation that you had to buy into this binary you either you are the male or female You are the man or woman you there was no, there's no middle ground and I had for many years struggled while while I was growing up. It was nothing I would have loved more than to have been being a woman. You know, watch those old movies with Doris Day and Shirley MacLaine. Gina Lala Bridget. Of course, the gorgeous, Sophia Lorraine. Still gorgeous Sophia Lorraine. Gosh. [00:39:12] I knew you were gonna say her name. But [00:39:14] she just he just kind of order Can you read it? But you know, there was so much glamour and I guess that form of beauty around in those days but but I associated with more with the likes of the Doris Day. I don't know whether you recall Doris Day movies where she played opposite Rock Hudson. But in that, in that somewhat comical sort of bimbo ish but still competent, but cute and cuddly and desirable. And you know, manifestly try to please your man, but at the same time being this competent, capable woman who's raising children or looking after life and other things in general. And it was that I was dignified Well, with a sort of ordinariness, rather than than the glamour that that many of the American actresses sort of tended to portray and still tend to portray, I think, and it seemed to have that natural and natural beauty that the young European [00:40:19] actresses portray and [00:40:24] you know, you should entertainment, but she was one of those and sort of Doris Day type roles she used to play and, and the million dollar leaks. So I yeah, I had these. And I used to imagine mini me being named, it was even even though all my boys see me staring at us to check off on me for steering it. And young woman, but I couldn't explain to them and I'm measuring up what they're wearing as to how that might look on. [00:40:56] So I just have to pay the duty of man. [00:41:01] Yeah, so all the difficulties playing a double life. [00:41:07] Might make some sense to them now in hindsight, but yeah, I was. Yeah, those are Interesting. Interesting times I, I'd wanted to be, I often imagined, you know, when I go to bed at night and sleeping, and I'll often imagine being, like, Doris Day or like, Heidi moves when I was younger, she was wondering, oh, yeah, I sort of fantasized being. [00:41:38] And, [00:41:40] and, and I know, I joined the military sort of thing, the idea of being captured on force feminized sort of thing as part of that, where I wouldn't have to take responsibility for being feminine. So I could, I could justifiably come back to my family and say, This is what they've done to me. But yeah. [00:42:05] The military was going to do this. [00:42:08] Not the military, but bad guys. Yeah. [00:42:12] I mean, those are the kinds of fantasies Oh, yeah. How, how could I ever become a woman [00:42:19] from where I am sort of stuff and it didn't seem to me to be any way to do that. And, and then [00:42:27] as as I guess, there's I've gone through puberty and, and doing all that match, I sort of stuff, the stuff that's been associated with being a blog, I was diving and playing rugby and [00:42:43] drinking over the last few years other things. [00:42:47] And smoking like a chimney. [00:42:51] So I, you know, I wish I had this side of me that kind of enjoyed the bulky sort of stuff. And and so in my body binary thinking there was one or the other, there was no, there was never going to be any in between. And I found that when I started engaging with, with agenda and the others that they were, there wasn't any middle point, it's always in the middle somewhere, they always approve it. Or I was Yeah, you know, I was basically proving that I was, there was an official for some sexual kick or whatever. And that sort of spirit, guilt, feelings and everything else. So I, I didn't find sucker any, any groups at all. I basically did it online. But I did have, I did run into a friend who hangs around, still on the periphery of things at the moment, and she was living in a Porky at the time. And I'm sure how we came across each other to be honest. It was something we did online, we just shoot some opinions or whatever. And she wrote a fantastic poem. About I am feeling called I Am theme theme I am I wish I could remember, I'm sure it's tucked away somewhere and something about one of my followers on the computer, maybe I Hi. And, and she became a really, really good support for me, she validated the fact that I didn't really have to go, I didn't have to play these, these games at these other groups were pushing, which, you know, there was a middle ground where, where you can, you can still walk exist and play a very valued role and, and the community in general. And so she, she inspired me in many ways to, to take both sides of OM and, and just exist. But I never found myself complete. And this was presenting theme. And so the first time I was over, I found myself in the middle of the day walking around and not passing because, you know, people clearly soon as that, but I saw that I was [00:45:23] I saw me as a man in a skirt. [00:45:28] But it was interesting, because I knew that it was going to do this right to hold me here. I didn't want to carry a sign around that said, I'm a victim pick on me. So I had to hold my head up. And and it was an interesting social experiment for me, because for the first time and owning that about me, and gearing to engage people with eye contact, it was that you turned away. Not me. And and I don't have to fulfil some stereotypical role or whatever I can just be. And, you know, that's how it turned out. I used to fantasize about [00:46:11] walking down Menton key. And [00:46:16] in the day in broad daylight, you know, dress to fame. And, and the thought of that was was [00:46:26] was stimulating, and [00:46:30] fraught with all sorts of expectation and whatever else. And the first time I did it, and there was there was nothing sexual or stimulating or anything else about it all was a sense of [00:46:47] I'm home. [00:46:54] Feeling recently, Shelly, I, I know that you did a social experiment where you put a side on yourself invited people to you? Yeah. Do you want to speak about that? [00:47:12] Okay, yeah, I'm [00:47:15] sure. I clip on [00:47:20] mine of a, of a guy doing a social experiment. And I think he's in Romania. And, and he put up a sign just saying, I respect you, what do you respect me hug me. And he stood there with a blindfold on on the sounds of Cambodian, and a busy pedestrian walk by and then people would stop, see what was going on, because it's an unusual thing. And, and, and engage with them, I thought, you know, there was kind of profound it was, it was a nice little social experiment it did, it demonstrated that humanity that I think is inherent in all of us, and that we all want to express better, we just need know, sometimes we need an excuse or a reminder about to go about demonstrating it. [00:48:07] And [00:48:09] then there was the youth 12 report sort of came out a little while after that. And I was [00:48:22] I was actually prompted to [00:48:25] write to the local reg, an article about the importance of still following the old song, it takes a village to raise a child that we all as adults need to have to take, take responsibility for all of our young people. And part of that is taking a particularly taking care of our queer youth, we need to include them in and everything in the community and all levels and and it's our adult responsibility to do that kind of backing up organization or School's out, which presents the youth perspective from the bottom and then obviously trying to target the adults of the top 10. And saying, Hey, you know, we can squeeze this into the middle and achieve a nice little tasty sandwich of acceptance and tolerance. Because as well, we have some pretty terrible behaviors have been going on around schools and affecting our youth. And many of those stories, many other that much of the information, the stories about the bullying and the other issues that queer youth and particularly transgender youth enduring. We're button pushing for me because they represented the fears that I had, when I was growing up and about being discovered in the things, the things that I feared would happen to me. We're having still in this supposedly more informed period and alive and more informed society that these these issues are still going on. And young people are killing themselves. The youth 12 report raise some important issues. And it was the first time that the youth 2000 series of studies by Oakland University of Technology has has conducted we they've included the transgender question and apparently came as quite a surprise as to the fact that 4% as much as 4% identified as non gender, non binary conforming, binary gender conforming, and that of that 2%, so half of that 4% identified specifically as transgender, which means that organizations like educational institutes and social support instituted organizations and that needed to start paying attention to that reality, and adjusting the way that do the business. And hopefully, if they're smart enough, changing the way that the language and the narrative they use in dealing with young people. [00:51:08] But the thing that concern me is that [00:51:12] those those sorts of reports and the information they can time generally stay confined within a very limited circle of society that the wider public is not keep the bridge to those and I thought, How can I How can I get this information out there more widely. And and so I went back to this, I thought back to this hug thing. And so I decided that I would emulate that. And so I [00:51:43] respect as a [00:51:45] didn't use Well, I use the word honor. So [00:51:50] I hit it on a couple of levels. I made up one sign, which says, I honor you will you want to me? I think Hagman. And Stacia, I am transgender, I honor you, would you want to me and hug me. As a part of that experiment, I pushed the boundary a little bit more, and I put the preemptive and Toronto with the diminutive, and the English subtitles if you like, so in the in the smaller print underneath. So that was one sign I used to the other side, the other side, I summarized the trains, the, the data from the US 12 report onto onto another nother form and, and summarize that with the commentary that despite all of those negative negative data that that was that I extracted from that report that transgender youth, still the most active of sector with that youth community, terms of helping and assisting others. And, and so that's, that's putting information out there and I thought it was a good way to get people to pay attention to that information. I'm hoping to develop that into a into a kind of a documentary I have a friend who's been filming some of those engagements for me. And we're going to expand it to ask people after they've engaged with me when I'm doing this we're going to ask people what they plan to do with the information because now they're informed they don't have an excuse for not doing anything and so it's going to is going to be a challenge and it's and I'm summarizing the documentary at the end but you know, it's just my small way of saying grow up people be a village [00:53:55] what happened when you first did this? [00:54:00] quite overwhelming [00:54:02] we did our first do it I did it was the day [00:54:07] diners union played England at [00:54:11] at the captain for the Cricket World Cup. And so there was quite a few people and I stood at Middleton Park I think he's moving back on on empty and it was bad timing because there's another activity that occurred and behind what sort of overwhelmed things a little bit. But I suppose I engage with 20 or 30 people and pack it with them pack Yeah. People coming by some remarkable quite a remarkable engagements. People would apparently stand and watch [00:54:55] everybody thought I was very brave. [00:54:57] You're blindfolded Yes, I was born [00:54:58] folder yeah can be photo can see a thing with a blindfold on. And standing with my arms spread. But yeah, a mixture of a mixture of people interesting headed and couple of guys on the occasion I've had quite a few clearly miles I could feel from from their attire and the way they hug me and from the voices are clearly mile. But there's been more than one who has said to me as we're hugging from one church to another. [00:55:30] Wow. [00:55:31] Yeah. So it's Yeah, there's some I've done it. And I did it the the Kiva duper night I did it outside Scotty a mouse bar. That was an interesting experiment. One guy with a group, it was clear with a group that obviously have been eating, partying through the day and Cuba streets. And there's one guy who was struggling to deal with who's being a dawn to do the hug thing with me. But he was clearly uncomfortable with the whole thing. And in the end, under pressure, I think because he wanted to school with one of the woman who just who had had with him and engaged. So yeah, typical, typical male. [00:56:18] So this [00:56:21] quote, I'm a moron. Because I think it was [00:56:24] his way of engaging was to come up and grab me and lift me off the ground and spin me around. So I had no idea showing how buff and strong a machete was, but you know, engaging, but yeah, there was there was there was no engagement there. The hugs, you can, you can feel the sincerity and some of the hugs is some, some of the women in particular will come up and you and you know, you get a heart to heart hug when you feel a heart engaging. And, you know, there's sincerity in it. And some of them feel the hackers they feel they are obliged to make gesture because they've stopped in. I've seen others doing it and you can feel the distance they keep a distance even though they wrap their arms around you. But there's, there's a distance between you it's it's palpable. And those are the people I'd like to question as to you know, now that you've got this information, and you know, how are you going to deal with? What are you going to tell your children? What are you going to tell your partner? What are you going to do? What are you gonna, are you going to go to the to the local board of trustees now and tell them that we have to do more for for queer identifying youth? [00:57:32] I guess it's coming full circle back to your questions around what's tolerance and lots of acceptance? [00:57:38] Exactly, exactly. Yeah, that's, yeah, people conflate the two, I think, and I figure I can, I can tolerate that person being queer long as I don't, it doesn't interfere with my life, that's not acceptance. at all, you know, and, and, and that and those attitudes we have to work on. And so there's a lot of ways that we can do that. Part of that is just other thing that I'm trying to do at the moment was, is take the queer community and give back to the wider community, I think, I think the queer community tends to be very introspective, and it looks after itself, which is fine, I don't have a problem with it. We invite the outer community to partake with us if that if they so choose. But it's usually only allies and immediate family sort of thing that will take power pattern that it doesn't really engage with the wider consciousness of the community. [00:58:34] So I'm proposing [00:58:38] raise this through rainbow Wellington with so with the endorsement, I'm taking an idea to engage with, hopefully with the homeless, and Wellington. And as a double whammy for us and my shows to the wider community that we're contributing back if you like. That also, because we are disproportionately represented the queer people are disproportionately represented amongst homeless, then it's also a nice way to give back to some of our own to and, and I just think it's important that we, we recognize it, you know, we, we create a fire have for many years not been afforded the dignity of being ourselves. And, you know, we're doing the same all of us are doing the same query, if I can take included, for people like the homeless and other destitute people, we're depriving them of the dignity. So we need I think we need to do more in that sort of regard. Many of my fears and coming out, have been realized and particularly as my relationship with my family that's, at best strained. And I'm not sure whether we'll have that might ever be bridge door for live or get back to what it used to be. But my goodness, I guess by not aligning myself with any particular organizational structure or whatever else that I've been able to embrace, really remarkably diverse range of people. And, and being me now the personal aim now has brought so many wonderful people into my life [01:00:30] and I'm grateful for that.

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