Article Title:Providing inspiration to Dunedin's glbt community
Category:Events
Author or Credit:David Parrish
Published on:23rd August 2006 - 12:00 pm
Published by:GayNZ.com
Story ID:1389
Text:Dunedin Pride Week is set to bring some much-needed colour and vibrancy to the last throes of a biting Otago winter this year, and organisers have gone all-out to ensure the spotlight falls on all parts of the city's diverse LGBT community – with events from dance parties, to lesbian walks, a tranny formal dinner and a family day. Pride has been a feature of the Dunedin LGBT calendar for over ten years, but its roots go back even further. Daniel Larsen, co-organiser for this year's event recalls the Pride motif first being used in the early 1990s. “But before we named Pride, Dunedin had been celebrating the anniversary for many years,” he recalls. “Alex Nicholls put on the first Stonewall Dance about twenty years ago, with barricades along one end of the hall, pictures of cartoon cops, and with shoes and handbags hanging on the walls.” Nicholls' parents would pay for the hall hire, do the catering and even turn up at midnight with a vanload of food for partygoers. “In the mid-90s Pride became a big event,” says Larsen. “The fashion of slogan-sporting hadn't quite passed yet and you'd see people out and proudly wandering the supermarket wearing t-shirts, which shouted ‘I can't even think straight' or: ‘If time and space are curved, where'd all the straight people come from?'” From the ‘mum and dad'-hosted Stonewall events through the in-your-face 90s and until the present day, Pride retains it's family-orientation and has upped the ante in terms of providing a visual spectacle that all of Dunedin's sturdy Southern folk can enjoy – including the straights! “It's a family reunion of sorts,” muses Larsen. “It's a chance to hang out, have fun, discuss serious issues, meet and marry, argue politics, eat, play perform.” “In Pride Week, we are the ‘mainstream',” he states – a point that will be made patently clear to locals, as Rainbow Day storms the city's iconic Octagon, and Family Fun Day descends upon Logan Park. Many of the events are family-focused, allowing gay and lesbian parents, their children and friends space to celebrate and a chance to discuss their issues. Openly gay MPs Tim Barnett and Maryan Street are hosting a special meeting of PFLAG (Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) where specific political policies relating to rainbow families will be discussed and debated. Green MP Metiria Turei is also on-hand to discuss her Adoption Equity Amendment Bill, which seeks to equalise adoption laws for gay and lesbian couples. “There's a good mix this year of events for the queer community or a specific pocket of the queer community; and others that are open to all,” says Larsen. “The importance of both exclusive and inclusive spaces is reflected in a welcoming way.” The Purple Passions lesbian soccer team have long been associated with Dunedin Pride, and this year is no exception. In fact, the first mention of ‘Pride' in the Otago Gaily Times refers to the Passions v Poofs match of 1994. This year the Passions will once again face off against their nemesis, and try to get one over the boys in their annual match during Family Fun Day. They're also organising Pride's dance party event, which will double as a fundraiser to enable them to attend the 2007 Masters Games in Wanganui. The headline Passion and Pride Dance, open to all, will feature comedy group ‘The Provocateurs, a fixture of Dunedin's festival scene, and popular with LGBT locals, says Larsen. All in all, there's a “wide mix of sport, creativity, politics and social events, which will appeal to different styles of celebration,” says Larsen. The costs for each event have been kept as low as possible, which is “basic to making sure Pride Week is about our own community coming together.” There's a serious side, and the New Zealand AIDS Foundation is the major sponsor and will host a series of workshops to keep locals up-to-date with HIV trends and strategies to stem the burgeoning epidemic. Public Health South has also been a “huge support,” says Larsen, “supporting the development of Pride Week's policy around sexual health, safer sex and alcohol and drug awareness.” Larsen is humbled by the level of support Pride Week has received in the planning stages. “Many of the regular groups and local businesses are hosting events for Pride – Rainbow Families, PFLAG, the Purple Passions, Metro Cinema, UniQ, the L Club, Bodyworks, Queeble Productions and Glenhaven Church.” “An amazing number of people have come forward with enthusiasm to put on events to appeal to a variety of circles from the community. It's really great to see such a range of interests and styles.” And there'll be an opportunity to pay tribute to local LGBT individuals and businesses that form the backbone of Dunedin's rainbow communities. The 2nd Lavender Globe Awards open Pride Week celebrations, with awards for sporting heroes, Young Person of the Year and ‘Plain' Queer of the Year, amongst a raft of others. For Larsen, Dunedin Pride week is all about “celebrating both our different identities and our common strands of shared history and experience.” “Celebrating our pride in being people of the LGBT and queer communities is important in recognising who we are – and that our identity as gay, lesbian, bi, takataapui, trans, queer and intersex is an inspiring and enlivening element of our being – and it can inspire and enliven those around us too.” David Parrish - 23rd August 2006    
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