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Ralph Knowles - Dunedin beats and homosexual law reform

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[00:00:00] This program is brought to you by pride in zero.com. [00:00:05] I was brought up in donate know, the north end of donating. And opposite our place was the North ground, which was a city block sized training area, rugby and cricket and so forth. And [00:00:25] in one corner of the North ground [00:00:26] was an old fashioned means low. There are concrete, no lights, no senator can say no sanitation in order to make a real old stuff. You know, I was always conscious there was a boy, and later became one of the places where I regularly routinely one might say cruised my first, my first sexual awareness or the time when I sort of came to puberty was known as bad age 12, that would be the end of 1950, seven, something like that. [00:01:07] And I really [00:01:08] had no sexual spirits, except one sort of fumbling with a boy intermediate, which didn't really mean anything much, until the year that I was involved as a schoolboy in a French play. And it was, during the downtime of that production that I became friendly with, with a guy had been at school a few years ahead of me, had my first adult sexual experience with him. And it [00:01:38] was so great [00:01:40] that a trigger to [00:01:43] come across a book called minority that actually spelled out, you know, how you went about picking people up and, and so forth. Anyway, might have, might have might have come to the same conclusions anyway, that, so for those from that point on, so I'm saying form six form and so forth. I was cruising underneath and fairly steadily, specially on the north ground. And by and large, they were anonymous, one off experiences. But a couple of people I met [00:02:21] more than once. [00:02:24] One was a very nice guy who subsequently got caught by the police and prosecutors in jail. And another was a medical student who was in the one of the university rugby teams. And he was saying late autumn, early winter, he was practicing on he was [00:02:43] doing training on the, on the north ground. [00:02:47] And I hang [00:02:50] around. And it was obvious that I was talking about nine o'clock at night, in winter, I handled, and he eventually came over and made contact with me. And he and I met, never knew his name. [00:03:11] Linda wee bit about him that he was doing some [00:03:14] stuff like that. But I, I went with him [00:03:20] perhaps a dozen times through the winter. [00:03:23] And that was a great episode, that was a great pleasure to me. He's a hell of a nice guy. And we had sort of sexual, so it was good. [00:03:33] And [00:03:34] there were other venues around an Eden that I occasionally got to but it didn't never care. And, and wasn't the sort of thing didn't go out. I didn't go out at night on a bike. [00:03:47] But there were other other places that I stopped off [00:03:50] it. And, [00:03:53] and came to recognize one or two people. [00:03:57] When you say crews, can you describe for me? How you would cruise somebody at that time? We're talking them late 1950s? How you would figure out that this person was actually working for six? And and how to kind of work? [00:04:19] Yeah, well, the usual, the usual thing would be a public toilets at the urinals. And, you know, if you were there to pay, and then that was over a relatively short period of time, and is it top and Lyft if you, if you stay, if you hang around, a few loitered, then and someone else was loitering, it became pretty obvious to each of you that the other was interested or potentially interested. And sometimes that would involve you know, leaving the two and then having a chat out on the street with very careful chat testing, whether the other the other person was genuinely interested, and then find him. somewhere nearby. I didn't have a car, but the other half people are picked up used his offer was in the north ground, there was plenty of potential posses around the Northland where you could [00:05:23] hide away for a few minutes. [00:05:27] So it was that very testing the water, you know, [00:05:32] these days people talk about Gayda. I don't think that really applied to me in those days. But the behavior was behavior on my path, the behavior on the other person's path was was pretty obvious to each other, even if ordinary members of the public might not have actually realized there was anything going on. [00:05:57] Because at this time, it was still legal. How and is [00:06:03] it to be bloody careful, the person who appeared to be interested, wasn't infected the coil cop, [00:06:09] which [00:06:11] certainly happened to me on one occasion and lick my wrist. [00:06:16] But the stage, how old are you? [00:06:19] At this point? [00:06:20] I besides 1963? So I'm 6263 1819. But quite steadily over those years from about 16 1617 1819. [00:06:34] Could you spot a homosexual? [00:06:38] No, not not? No, definitely not no circumstances. I've thought about it later. In in terms of, you know, staff and colleagues or people in a public place, and if you're in, I feel that if I'm in reasonably long conversation with someone in a busy public setting [00:06:59] that [00:07:00] would, I might will pick up hints from, who they looked at, and who they seem to take an extra interest in. And I might, I might think, Oh, you know, he's just spotted someone coming in the door who's just come in the door, I see that attractive young man I practices in some trust, you know, that sort of thing. But not on the circumstances, there was no opportunity to identify the intuition was just once they started behave in a reciprocal way to the way I was Pavan. [00:07:37] So in the late 50s, did you ever pick up the wrong person? As an as an, you know, somebody that wants to bash you or? [00:07:46] No, no, [00:07:48] no, certainly not. At that time, I might have picked up the wrong person and what they expected of me [00:07:56] wasn't what I was comfortable with. [00:08:01] That happened occasionally. [00:08:05] But more often than not, we quite quickly established but the person speak to those interested in doing or indeed not done. And I have I have been confronted in Christchurch and more recent is on two separate occasions by young men who were out tonight trouble. I've had a knife pulled on me and I've had to watch a stop. But [00:08:35] that's not even recent that 17 years ago. [00:08:40] So can you identify any other beats around on the network were happening at that time? [00:08:48] No, though, they were mainly centered on [00:08:53] public facilities at different parks. [00:08:58] There was no sooner or or anything of that sort at the time. And as far as I was aware, there was no no clap like the door in society and women tourism right there. And the beach, [00:09:14] the gardens, [00:09:16] and then facilities on packs and sports grounds. I'm sure there was other things going on, but I wasn't party do. [00:09:28] We say nowadays that people can live a completely open gay life. And that involves, you know, who you live with? How you live, and, and six and stuff like that. Back when in the 50s. What did it mean to be gay? [00:09:48] Well, for me, it was just that major sense of difference. I wasn't the in the age when I would have been expecting. I was because I was expected to have a girlfriend and at high school. Somewhat my shame. I did in fact have a steady girlfriend that didn't last beyond the end of high school. And I mean, we we went to all the dances, there was a small group of boys from a tiger boys who, who had good friends with Tiger girls, and we go to the school dances and bypass socials and things like that together. But I feel very sorry about it now, but you know, I would take I would take my girlfriend home, and she would obviously be interested in getting a bit sort of intimate. [00:10:38] And I'd be thinking, [00:10:40] bloody hell, it's half past 12 if I don't get back down to back down to George Strait, I'm going to be too late. I say that with a sense of shame really. And the relationship didn't really last. We put this panel quite amicably. I think gene realized that I wasn't really too interested in her and I just felt that it was better to leave it go. [00:11:09] What else did it mean to be gay? [00:11:13] Different isolated, but careful. [00:11:16] But it was a compartment of life. I started ordinary friendships I have my family and friends. Life was okay. [00:11:25] Although [00:11:27] being homosexual as a major component of one's life, it's not all of life. And there were plenty of other things happening and in life. [00:11:40] Did you have gay friends? None at all. [00:11:44] To two guys who were at school with me when my when my class at a tiger boys and one a year behind us have since identified 2 million this guy was the guy who was in my class. I'm really rather sorry that I didn't know that we didn't realize this about each other when I don't think either of us were the obvious ones in the class, to be honest, I certainly didn't. Didn't expect him of being guy. And the other one, that the guy who was one year behind, he had the nickname of flowery. And he was quite camp, and quite ostentatiously a feminine. And I didn't have any school contact with him. But I had I met him later on. And I've since been in touch with them despite email, [00:12:47] and flaring was a name given by other students. What other what other names? Would they copy? [00:12:55] My Well, I'm a sexual deviant in the world, what would good school that queer would be the main one in those days? queer. Some of the more knowledgeable ones might talk about pushing or something like that was seeming that the only thing you were interested in was no six, [00:13:16] then man, [00:13:19] yeah, queer would be the main one. I keep [00:13:24] this tough to came into use at one stage. And I remember David Lama using the word podcaster, in some sort of public context, and claiming later that he didn't actually know what was it normally meant? I don't know podcaster from my school days, but certainly not long after perhaps. [00:13:47] Can you recall at that time? Were there any images in the media? on the radio and newspapers, etc? that were obviously gay characters? [00:14:02] I say absolutely not. The may have been after TV came in, there must be one or two of those sort of Camp comedians. But But at the time, no. And I've made quite a study of what you might call popular fiction, with a gay theme. And until quite late, it was really doom and gloom and usually involved suicide. And then there was a gradual change. And I've got one or two books from that very early period, where the might have been the suicide, but the main character came out the other end, usually with a with a partner. And then one, which was just written shortly after Stonewall in 1969. It was a very positive novel, and bit by bit after that. And then of course, we started eventually to get perfectly ordinary gay characters in almost, you know, if it was American, there had to be at least one black character in one gay character. At some of the better English TV programs have quite I think, quite reasonable, truthful and positive displays of kk characters. [00:15:26] The beats Indonesian The minute you actually meet on the on the beats. Could you describe them? Did they have any? Were there any similar features? [00:15:39] I think I think they were quite pleased find a school boy. I mean, I was a physically mature school boy, but nevertheless, I was a school boy. [00:15:51] That by and by and large, [00:15:54] the North ground you've got, you know, some some sort of middle class intellect all types. All the people I went with were [00:16:05] normal sort of effort models. [00:16:09] Yeah. masculine [00:16:13] masculine acting system, the sexual seats. Yeah. [00:16:22] If you had been caught at that time, or if they had been caught at the time, what would have the consequences been? [00:16:30] If I'd been caught, certainly charged, that really would have been terrible. [00:16:38] Socially terrible. [00:16:40] Shame, the shame of the embarrassment, embarrassment for family. [00:16:46] But didn't stop me taking the risk. [00:16:50] You're extra careful, have you thought that the person might be a police decoys. But I only once had trouble with police in that period. And that was 1965. So I'm fascinated by them. And was I've been in the captain concert that year. And I met a guy at [00:17:14] the do the capping [00:17:17] function after that. [00:17:20] And he had a car, nice new console, Cortana console for console. And we got in the car and we drove away download and pack to find a discreet place. And I don't know why the cops thought we were suspicious. But they followed us. And because this was a long, one way, low in no exit straight. And they caught up with us and challenged us. By then we had swap stories. And of course, by that time, we were able to say that we Yes, we were guilty. We thought that they knew that we were underage drinkers. And they got they required the other guy to report with his driver's license and Davis driver's license on. And they require them to report the next day. But by then you see with SWAT planes, we certainly knew each other. I knew he was a law student. He knew what I was doing. And so for them, we sort of had a plausible [00:18:35] story that was it [00:18:38] was it was plausible drinking, it must have been 21 name and I was 20 coming up 21 later, but [00:18:46] but that was the story we built on. [00:18:48] And when the cops followed you down down that road, and they pulled you over what kind of questions to be asked what what were they? [00:18:56] What are you doing? Why are you here? This is a long way out of your normal. Were you going to? [00:19:03] Do you know each other? I've been doing? I'm sure they knew what we were up to? [00:19:10] Did they make any reference to [00:19:13] somebody came straight out of the story that we thought was underage drinking never interested in? [00:19:20] So with the with the police doing a lot of DK work and trying to get people? [00:19:27] I think so. [00:19:30] I think that vary from time to time. I think what tends to happen was when you're gonna, when you got a senior police officer, you had a bit of a thing about it, he would put more resources into it. [00:19:45] That's the general feeling I got. [00:19:50] So I don't know how widespread it was. I do know that one if not two, if not three, police were operating in 1979 when I was interested. I mean, that was definitely [00:20:04] the core [00:20:06] provocateur type situation. [00:20:10] So in those early years in the 50s, and 60s and and even was the talk amongst the people on the beat about police entrapment or police pick on people [00:20:23] is, is definitely [00:20:28] you would get people who said, you know, by the way, I've seen you here before, just need to be careful look at the guy in the blue box is a police officer. So just watch out that that sort of thing. Or they might say, Have you seen a guy about you know, 510 with that curly here around? And you might say I saw him last week. But watch out for him? I think he's a police. And I think he is placement, that sort of thing. Could you spot them? [00:21:04] No, not really. [00:21:08] No, they they behave as one would expect someone you were interested? [00:21:15] Where do you think they got, I suppose the knowledge of how to behave from I mean, were these, for instance, in gay policemen. [00:21:23] I've always assumed that that must have been although in those days, I think would be more than you employment was worth for a police officer to identify as guy. [00:21:35] Perhaps they've got them from the same books I was reading. [00:21:40] Can you recall any media response of somebody was convicted of an indecency [00:21:47] basically, no great, no great flurry of internet but they would they would publish the court news, they would identify you by name. And the challenge and the sentence. If there was some a bit more sensational because of the person involved, the might be a bit bit more publicity. And and if there was not too much people caught on on the beat. But if there was something a bit more what they would think of as sinister. choirmaster choirboys, that's truth in particular is the two major articles on there. [00:22:27] And I'm just going to pick up when I say indecency. That was the challenge, wasn't it when if you were charged, it was an indecent assault on male [00:22:37] and do some saw him [00:22:38] there was even being sexually active with another male at the same age. It was consenting? Yep. [00:22:46] Absolutely still the MDC. The matter what the age was in the in the Crimes Act because it was a crime. That was probably a difference if the other person was under 20. I don't think 16 was an issue that was for males and females, but not wasn't a draft law form. 16 became the age of consent. But suppose before that there was no age of consent, because you couldn't consent to a crime. [00:23:20] So you moved from Geneva to Wellington for a couple years. When was there [00:23:26] I moved to Wellington 1971. [00:23:30] And what was the gay scene like Wellington [00:23:33] didn't have much to do with it. I was living in an urban commune. David and I paired up with the guy who'd introduced me to David and his wife. So there were four of us living in Kilburn. And [00:23:52] none of us get personal money. [00:23:55] Three of us were working three men were working, and the woman stayed home, looked after the trial, and we paid all our pay into one bank account. And we drew from what we needed. Or if it was a major item by consultation with the whole group financially worked out well, in terms of relationships, catastrophic. And, and eventually broke up. David moved out first, and then I found that impossible, living apart from him, so I also moved from dream home. [00:24:32] And David was somebody you met via the church? [00:24:36] No, no, the David was the person that I was introduced to by a fellow student at Spelman College and donated. This fellow student who said that he had a friend and tomorrow who was very distressed because he was homosexual, didn't know what to do about that. And civil servants I and Muslim help. David and I met and we courted for a few months, and then began a sexual relationship and then started living together and live together on board as live together from then till the time David died in 1995. But there was this brief period during a commune, just a week or two in those commune days when David moved out, and I remained in the commune. [00:25:27] So did you experience any gay lifestyle in Wellington? [00:25:32] Not really, or there was a member of the Museum of homosexual Law Reform society. And there was one very brief period with David and I went to the work field street sauna. But that was about the limit on that really. I mean, I was aware that there was the door in society as quite [00:25:57] active with the homosexual Law Reform so so it but that was all terribly proper. [00:26:04] What was the Wakefield like? [00:26:07] This pre a very novelty as far as I was concerned, like a lot of people surprising, surprising freedom relatively easy to engage with what someone who was attractive to you and found you attractive. It wasn't wasn't a great success to go with your life partner. Even though you'd both talked about us and we're both open to the idea. Well, particularly if one of you did pick up someone and there was some sort of sexual engagement at the time and the other head and [00:26:49] you know, that [00:26:52] not straightforward. We didn't really [00:26:56] I mean, wasn't quite well populated with us [00:27:00] is that doesn't sound very novel. I mean, I need to touch base system in America and I subsequently found a printed them in Australia, but [00:27:12] it was pretty novel. How did [00:27:14] you get that information that they were in America and elsewhere? [00:27:19] American guy magazines basically. And in terms of Australia, I went to Australia on a training trip quite early in my career and you know, softly visited foreigners in both Melbourne and Sydney. [00:27:38] So how was getting publications gay publications in New Zealand How was then [00:27:43] those more straightforward magazines like advocate or The Village Voice and papers like that Not The Village Voice was explicitly gay but carried on driver's license and things they were ok. But the customs were will certainly down on anything goes pornography, or it's stuff that you could pick up at the corner dairy now was confiscated and you will travel for trying to important I had a very complicated arrangement. I had appear box at my early days and Christchurch. And we used to use a fictitious name and get publications center MJ Ryan paradox to g7 when I and a few got a cab from customs, so holding item address dfj Ryan, you read across the card not known at this address and just abandon [00:28:39] got through that was fine. You collected MJ Ryan's mo out [00:28:47] with him many times we're customers would would pick them [00:28:49] twice. [00:28:52] Twice I have to abandon things posted back to me was that I posted it from Australia rather than try and bring them in. [00:29:01] But it's interesting that they would allow things like the advocate, which was would still be promoting homosexuality. [00:29:09] Yeah. Yeah. They seem to be fits all because they [00:29:14] didn't like they didn't like the more extreme friction. [00:29:19] For example, James Baldwin's, another country was banned when it was first published. And then this really intrigued me to this day, and then it was released in hardback. But the paperback was banned. So if you were a serious enough book collector and wealthy enough to pay for the hardback, you would probably trust movie. But if you just wanted a popular foreign six money, paperback? [00:29:54] Can you believe it? [00:29:59] So experiencing that stuff overseas? How did it impact on you, when you came back to New Zealand and it was a bit more conservative. [00:30:13] Really an acknowledgement of that, I don't think I ever thought of moving to Australia, just because she could get 16 magazines, but you were conscious that Zealand was was with behind the times, you know, clearly the gay liberation movements were here in the States and in Australia, not so much about the UK, but Australia in the states differently. And by then, the law reform movement and the early days of Gator garage and so forth was starting to make an impact here. And there was that feeling that it would come. [00:30:53] So what year was this? [00:30:55] Well, [00:30:56] it still was 69. But I'm talking about being in the studio. I live in 1980. My first trip to Australia, so sort of about that time. And you know, by then the law reform society been tracking away for quite some time. I joined the law reform society in 1967. So when we're talking about 13 years before this period, and ours, and then by 85, we were in the thick of the law reform campaign. And I do think that we're talking about publications and so forth. I do think that once once homosexual activity was decriminalized, the argument the customs and sentence use that such publications had been promoting a crime was no longer an argument they could use or wanted to use. And I think that, you know, the, the outline of, well, the reduction of censorship back gay issues started for about that point. As far as I can tell, now, apart from major violence and bestiality and probably paedophilia, [00:32:11] though, that's really [00:32:13] open, open seven, I think. [00:32:17] Certainly, I bought, [00:32:18] you know, videos and CDs and magazines, that would have been unheard of [00:32:25] in the 60s or 70s. [00:32:29] I want to come back to the various homosexual Law Reform groups. But you mentioned earlier that you had been involved in a charge of indecency in the late 70s. Can you tell me about that? [00:32:45] Right. The charge is actually being a rogue and felt vagabond, and loitering with intent. We didn't get as far as indecency. But I was loitering with intent commit a crime, which would have been indecent assault on a male that's coming home late at night, it's been a hell of a day. I shouldn't have been cruising, but I did still nice day sort of casually popping, the seem to be a flurry of activity around the public conveniences, and Manchester straight. So we're in crunchbase, Judge 1979. The been a couple of sessions there, in recent times, looked like a flurry of activity. And I thought, What's going on here? So I stopped and Winton, little got there. And all might have been two guys can't remember exactly. And but I was a bit suspicious. And I left, one of the guys left, I left he went back in and I went back in. And then I became suspicious. And I decided I need to get out of here and out of here fast. So I live and was confronted at the door by a cop who subsequently arrested me for loitering, oftentimes being a rogue and available and in a public place. They they respected me, took me to the police station, and let the police station as they were taking my statement. One of the cops started really exaggerating what I had done, I hadn't been you know, I am done a thing other than going back in [00:34:41] once twice. [00:34:44] And he started inventing stuff alive by then I told him What's about me, I may not do what he was supposed to do, because I published the list of what you do with the place get you. And and I thought no, I'm not taking any more of this. So at that point, I declined to answer any further question and said that I wanted my phone call. Who was going to run? [00:35:10] Well, I said I was going to run David cable [00:35:14] who was a lawyer [00:35:16] in MP at that point. Anyway, he was a prominent politician. And he was chair of the politic Council on so whether I would have run over, I've worked I worked subsequently work with David cable during the law firm campaigns. I mean, there's nothing peculiar about that. The police said, Oh, you wouldn't want your employees tonight. And I said, No news to them. And indeed, subsequently, my boss offered a character refunds. [00:35:50] But, you know, I shouldn't have been me. I hadn't [00:35:56] been completely honest with David about what little cruising, I was still doing. And it was a metal guy. Stress to him. And subsequently, of course, to me. And we got over there. And we had a moment subsequently, but we got over that. But it wasn't wasn't a good time. Although, you know, there was no way I wasn't going to be outed. But I still didn't want my name in the charge on the front page of the court using the paper. And I certainly I knew I wouldn't be jailed, but I didn't really want to [00:36:37] be convicted or, or fined. [00:36:41] And as that happened, they, they subsequently dropped the charges. Now, it's interesting, one of the things I put in my, in my defense, my statement of defense was that I was openly gay that my employers and family knew I was gay. And furthermore, that a senior police officer the year before, had run me at work to say, forgive me if I'm wrong, but I understand that you are a prominent member of the gay community, which is a desire. And he said, Could you get this message out to the community that we want to know what was going on in the park on a particular night when someone had been badly assaulted. And we want you to get the message out that if people come forward to say that they were in the park that night on what they saw, we will treat them with complete discretion and we know consequences. Can you get that message out? to address it? Yes, I'll do what I can. So now that I was been done by the police, I was able to say, hey, there's nothing secret about us. And furthermore, I've cooperated with you guys before. It was really the thing that two things really annoyed me that they were set up. They were decoys. And that when the story as it was being put down on paper didn't really add up to match. That I started the one guy in particular started exaggerating. I was intrigued. hating disappeared was sort of almost good cop paper. Because the guy who then escorted me off the premises dealt with violence and took me off the premises apologize for the behavior of his colleague. Sorry about my mate upstairs, he gets a bit carried away. But for the few months between being charged and being told that the charges will withdraw. [00:38:50] They were pretty ticked. At home in particular. [00:38:57] What could have been the result of being charged with loitering and being a vagabond, and vagrants the public place? [00:39:05] 500 bucks [00:39:08] and publicity. [00:39:10] And again, you see, I mean, I was [00:39:13] I was hoping K. But I sit beside the paper. For my sake for David sake for my family so far just been you know, now, you know, I've been involved in things like the three rainbow colored glasses. I mean, my name and my bits of my story have appeared all over the place. So it's not an issue now. But at the time, when I was out I [00:39:43] I was a bit embarrassed about the whole cruising thing. [00:39:47] Why do you think that the police were actively policing the toilets. [00:39:54] Don't know what it was, I was always told that they only reacted if they've been selected plans. Now in terms of that particular venue, there had been some violence there. So one could say that they will the legitimate lay or software that it was within their relative range of duties. I don't think that warranted having a couple of decoys or embroidering the story. And I've also been told that, you know, different times of different senior police officers. And I put more energy and resources into another's. Several of my friends have had brushes with the place of that sort. Right, as I've said to I've had a couple of the one and needed years before and then and then this one. [00:40:49] Do you have other examples of instances we gave me in have maybe been targeted by by either official where people going to officials. [00:41:03] There was one, one example in Needham that affected me quite profoundly, because I knew I knew reasonably well one of the people who were involved. And my friend had a relationship with with a bisexual guy, who, at the time, had a girlfriend as well as a boyfriend. The girlfriend, as I understand that became jealous of the amount of time my friend, the boyfriend will, was spending together and provided the police with information about where and when they would be together. The police raided the house, found them in bed together. [00:41:52] A rest of them, [00:41:55] took them back to PlayStation and separated them and told each of them, but the other had confessed what they've been doing. Neither head and effect. And as a consequence of this, my friend was convicted and required moving find it can't remember, but was required to undergo therapy at Ashburn all the psychiatric private site for psychiatric facility, Indonesian and the bisexual boyfriend was expelled from the country. He was a Dutch national and was sent home. I thought that was pretty good. I wasn't able to do much other than provide my friend both, you know, support and the offer offer of Character Reference and stuff like that. But that was pretty grim. [00:42:48] Really. What year was that? [00:42:52] I was still under Laden. So it's before 1971. [00:42:58] And the only reason the police raided their house was because of [00:43:04] sexual activity. I don't believe that was infidels involved was never any suggestion about you know, drugs or that either. I mean, my friend was it was probably at that point and went on to Teachers College, and became a very good teacher. And that was interesting in itself, that he declared this incident in asset protection for Teachers College. And the authorities, the teachers, college authorities. At that point, were wise enough to know that someone who was who was caught in the circumstance with an adult was not necessarily a danger to [00:43:40] school children. [00:43:42] Not everyone would have drawn the time. [00:43:48] Just thinking along the lines of of crime and impact and I'm wondering do things like the Charles Earhart killing integrity Park [00:44:00] and the [00:44:02] park a few murder in Christchurch? Did they have any impact on you? [00:44:07] They have to pat murder certainly did. [00:44:12] At the time, I mean, I was absolutely horrified the courts reach the conclusion I did. [00:44:22] Not long after that. [00:44:26] A case of more of my sort of middle being around config upon such a case came up before I started Pendry magistrate and support them would have been now called a district court judge. And he dismissed the charges. And I felt the police appeal dead and one on appeal. But that was the that was the first time I recall hearing of a judge who said often a psych was a time when we were looking for any little shift [00:45:03] some public opinion, public behavior. [00:45:08] All of that was happening around the mid 60s. [00:45:13] And we put later [00:45:16] you said earlier that you joined the homosexual Law Reform society in 1967. Yep. Is it when it started, or [00:45:25] it can't have been going long. It might have been 1965. So I was starting to engage with law reform issues. And I became a regular pen pal with jack Goodwin, who was the secretary of the homosexual from society that stayed stayed with him once or twice in Wellington. And he stayed with David and me here in Christchurch. [00:45:55] And at that time, [00:45:58] we got a wee bit of respect, mainly from a Methodist minister, Indonesia north, who also wanted to get involved in the move for change. So we had sort of bit of little writing and the occasional small scale public meeting. [00:46:17] Nothing very significant or well organized. [00:46:22] And that point, I just started keeping track of everything except women, the law reform, same. [00:46:28] Writing the odd later, [00:46:30] petition in Parliament, [00:46:33] agonizing over the venue young attempt in the world free or attempt. [00:46:38] It must have been quite something if you were being involved with the law reform side in the 65 to 67. And then having Stonewall in the US in 1969. When Stonewall happened, did you how did you respond? How did what did you think of that? [00:47:00] Well, I was I was amazed. But I was the thing I was really intrigued by was the creation of calibration. Now, in the early days, calibration was reasonably well established in Christchurch by the time I got here, in 1973. And because of my involvement in the law reform society, which was in favor of law reform, and would have accepted any move in the right direction, that the Gay Liberation Front from the start was repeal equality in the law, nothing else. Now, in those early days, I'm talking 70s, early 70s, I took the view of the homosexual or from society and decided to do anything in the right direction. By the end of the campaign, I was absolutely in fighting for the liberation position. I mean, I had been, I thought through and saw how things have developed. And I was bitterly disappointed that I'm just thrilled, if not the same age of consent as Phaedra sexual, so I thought it was brilliant, because previous that we were talking about, you know, 21 and 18, and so on. And that was somehow a bargaining point, but really get 21 we would like to be able to just now gain liberation see now repeal and nothing else. That was good. And of course, I was disappointed that the human rights but were dropped in 8586 so I was involved again later and 9293 when we took that up and been the case later, [00:48:40] can you describe the difference of makeup of the homosexual Law Reform society as opposed to the people and gay liberation? [00:48:49] Obviously, law from society had a lot of [00:48:52] hateful Central's [00:48:55] the society went for people problem public people, hey, great manner and is in society, professors and pushups. And people that thought were scalable Russian was almost was either very much younger mean, or occasionally had old men who were a bit eccentric. But you know, the contrast was quite different from society populated by gay men but by and large, very respectable professional gaming with a status and that sort of thing and go to operation was a lot of us who were quite different are some amazing characters a lot of very attractive young men and, and the older men were entertaining [00:49:49] eccentric but entertaining. [00:49:52] So could you get many people that were in both organizations? [00:50:00] Must have been more but but certainly, because of a basic difference of opinion. People can you know, I got an early before gay liberation was putting its it is And about that time, you know, often done report go homosexual or form and Britain or very staid. I mean, in Britain, it was 21 and you had to be in private and the third person present you weren't in private and all that sort of thing. [00:50:33] But calibration just said no [00:50:34] quality before the law [00:50:38] and gay liberation. Where did that come from? [00:50:42] Well, the key person here as far as I was concerned was Robin death who may not be known to is still very active in the gay scene and and teacher politics. He ran out here it is the magazine for a while I call it was cold. [00:51:04] And [00:51:07] people from gay liberation became the key key people in. [00:51:16] In the homosexual Law Reform group, the Christian gay Task Force, I think it was called not necessarily the same people. [00:51:25] For example, I don't remember [00:51:26] Robin taking a public part in the Law Reform Movement, I'm sure he did a lot of work behind the scenes. [00:51:33] But [00:51:37] I became part of the of the little group that was really running the law reform campaign and Christchurch [00:51:44] think I was called the legislative coordinator. I was expected to keep track of all these minor amendments that have been proposed and kicking them round at feeding back to fan and co the lovin friend but whoever, you know, what questions to what about this, all that. And we had strong association theme to with hug. It was it was unafraid of gays. Great movement. lot of nice people in there. Some people in there that I thought could have possibly been in gay liberation, but never walk into [00:52:20] in those early years in the early 70s, how many people were involved in those organizations helping with a [00:52:32] I suppose Gay Liberation Front, which I joined 1974 75 something like that? Well, an average an average meeting, weekly meeting, perhaps 20 people. It was a special function on either been 30. The dancers gas gay university students, I think was the guests. Dancers at Ireland were quite big. Because they they got to sit number of young people. And of course, more women than one involved in the door for those good women and Bob Norful. And to this to small people, Junior people who wouldn't get involved politically, what go to the dances? [00:53:19] And what about the wider gay community, the people that weren't involved in gay liberation and the festival reform society? What did they make of the idea of changing the law? Was it something they wanted was [00:53:36] quite pleased world happened, but they certainly didn't want us. Nor did they think it was necessary. And they certainly weren't going to become politically active or identified publicly. They preferred guest chairman. They prefer to continue their purse elegant socializing. [00:54:00] Because it was quite I mean, we were all aware, it was quite a [00:54:04] social strata [00:54:04] of, [00:54:06] of wealthier, older gay people in Christ churches, so we're not going to be identified with homosexual law reform. [00:54:18] And there were others who [00:54:21] were politically motivated, but he went to post, and so forth. [00:54:26] And the reason some God help us who, [00:54:30] you know, to cover the fact that they were gay, but touching the petition around, I've been asked to distribute this at work. And if I don't people think I'm Guy, which I am, but I don't want them to [00:54:45] say it. But true. [00:54:48] Byron apart with the petition, [00:54:50] which I'm sure can be prosecuted. For now. I did steal a few pages from the church poor. If I found no church porch with lots of solutions on [00:55:05] two occasions, quite removed. [00:55:10] And this of the petition net was, was a five [00:55:14] year fight against the law before. I mean, I found, you know, the fact that DB lagger and in mouse had also signed the petition I thought that was, I was very angry that groups such as the Salvation Army, but toting around old people's homes. I was angry that it was distributed at some Catholic schools. But in the past, the petition was pretty pretty easily discredited. [00:55:47] So that was one kind of anti reform action. I'm wondering, in the early days in the 70s, what were some of the actions that were happening in Christ Church that you were involved in to actually promote form or liberation [00:56:01] in the 70s? [00:56:05] Not a lot. [00:56:07] That really came to hit 8586. You know, the world kind of ration meetings. We were available as speakers for anyone who was interested. But again, that didn't really become a major focus of Service Group interests until Law Reform really started to be debated 85 calibration was was mainly social, really, but social for people who were prepared to be politically active. [00:56:45] So it was hard to keep the energy up over a specified at least 10 years, [00:56:54] if really [00:56:56] took people think that law reform would ever happen. [00:57:02] I think most of us thought it would eventually, you know, by then things were starting to shift towards the UK reform, which was not what we wanted, and wanted to Australian states and changed was a lot of debate in the United States. Some European states, such as Holland, in particular, had moved in that direction. And they were all not just in Holland, in particular, not dissimilar from New Zealand, a lot of Dutch people are the you know, and so the fact that Holland had moved quite radically and made a difference here, I think, I think we thought that it would eventually happen. [00:57:46] So I'm wondering, did you notice a change in public attitudes towards homosexuality, you've got your gay liberation starting up, you've got the MC for law reform society? Was there a chance going on, I think the change was [00:58:01] going on. I think that's represented by the fact that, that I was at work at a major public institution. David and I both worked at clusters Technical Institute, it was it was the unknown, we were known as a, as a couple. We were invited to social functions, work related social functions together. We had a couple of lesbian friends who we tended to pair up with and go to such things. [00:58:34] But that, I don't [00:58:36] know that the experience of someone on the factory floor would have been the same as there, if you know what I mean. Or someone who was who was interested in rugby rather than religion. And, you know, who was confronted with sort of locker room prejudice and that sort of thing. And I never experienced any difficulty like that. [00:59:00] Anything I would say is that when [00:59:04] when David became profoundly ill with Motor Neurone Disease [00:59:10] totally unrelated to being gay [00:59:14] the was a rumor went around politic that he had I and that was prompted scotch by our employer and by the union. But nevertheless it was a sort of brouhaha around on your death upon but everyone's dying was assumed that any gay man I was terminally ill must have AIDS matter It was soon dealt with, but dealt with by really sympathetic union in an employer at a stage at and whether it fits into this part of it, but doesn't my mind my employer gave me eight months leave on hi with a company car to miss David. Now, I had years of leave accumulated, so that wasn't an issue. David and I had worked there for many many years. But nevertheless, and I applied they applied a clause in the contract that allowed leave for family reasons that was intended to cover your child having flu and having to stay home not eight months to nurse a gay partner. [01:00:34] I thought that was pretty good. [01:00:40] It's interesting, you're getting their acceptance that I guess in the same breath we're looking at you getting charged in 1979 so obviously society wasn't same speed low [01:00:56] and a deed the police mentioned but the police in here what you employers make of this, which I said my employers, guy [01:01:05] john, please write me a character reference. My call was going to be with the chair of the politic council [01:01:13] issue quite right. That's what I was saying. I didn't think it's a place in particular but you know, the factory floor I really don't know what it was like for people in other in other circumstances. There we had we had really good liberal leadership at Christchurch politics because then go clusters gentleman's [01:01:37] Yeah. So the first real big pushes towards having sexual Law Reform into that start kicking in and Christchurch. [01:01:49] Individuals had been involved in the [01:01:52] earlier attempt. And [01:01:57] I was a bit disgusted when I learned this some combination of the Lyft when hit, it managed to discover it was particularly the freer attempt. I didn't like that, even though misapply, come around to the calibration, but I think they were right. But I didn't like it at the time. But it really just it was once friend while ago that once the Labour government went in and framework or agreed to, to support the law reform that made a difference. One thing that I don't think people to be aware of outside the law reform society committee, was the term Academy Sullivan offered to to promote a homosexual law reform initiative. And bearing in mind that by the time of your death, she was a born again, Christian and Simon, everything should possibly be an opposing everything of that sort, was quite extraordinary. [01:03:03] I don't know how far down [01:03:03] the traffic God, but I was aware was probably while I was in Wellington, so some way early 70s that that she was she was [01:03:16] willing to [01:03:17] take that initiative. [01:03:20] One thing we haven't talked about is the investment of energy from women in the whole reform, and I was wondering if you had any thoughts on on the [01:03:33] women in crisis, it was there was some good people who worked hard. But by and large, it was seen as a male issue. I mean, the women were naturally horrified. One of the arguments was when we started saying, like, we want equality with with one lesbian actor, not a crime, male homosexual action, not on some of the opponents, it will that's easily resolved. It's not that will decriminalize mean will criminalize women. So you know, it was so it was a bit tricky. But women were heavily involved in the campaign for human rights in 9293. So not all that long later. I'm not conscious, none of good women, of course, Fran leading the whole thing, but there was some good women, but they weren't at the, at the organizational level. in Christchurch, [01:04:33] which is actually quite different from Wellington, I think there was a lot of woman's energy in the women's area. Yeah. [01:04:40] And if you interviewed someone else, they may remember differently. There are few women and hack and diversity, and we had personal support from the lesbian friends that I was talking about. [01:04:52] But they weren't, though. They weren't out the front. [01:04:58] So what kind of action actions were being undertaken in Christchurch to promote law reform, [01:05:05] or For my part, [01:05:08] English speaking to church groups and service clubs. And I've still got notes and records of the places I spoke to, I appointed Jay Z's, and so forth, two or three of us would go, we agreed to we had quite a little team, perhaps six of us go out and peers or twos or threes, so we did not have that. David and I were interviewed by the star and appeared and I, I've got over there, a big public collection that was published in the star. What it's like to be guy that was a bit of publicity, endless, endless meetings about strategy. One or two matches, though they were hugely subscribed and we certainly saw a bit of abuse as we matched our mentors district. And letter writing letter writing letter writing, keeping track of which MPs were dickering, which MPs were posed and disrupting opponents meetings. [01:06:22] Stuff like that was all on it was very heady stuff. [01:06:26] So what was it like going to a church group and going to the meeting and talking to them about homosexuality? [01:06:35] That was okay. Because [01:06:38] by and large, you were invited to church by someone who was sympathetic to your cause. That didn't mean the whole group was sympathetic to your cause. But the invitation come from someone, so you got a bit of negative questioning. And you got the occasional person who got up and walked out. But it was okay. And the person I think, often particular, I went round with, he and I both hit [01:07:06] all the Bible stuff at our fingertips. You know, [01:07:12] silly and repetitive, because the group you're speaking to doesn't know, did the same time [01:07:16] and I bought another group. [01:07:20] Pretty good sort of response. We did took, we did go to one Catholic base meeting, where a woman who was a pharmacist had an obsession, obsession about idol sings, [01:07:36] and with on an old abandoned, [01:07:42] but eventually the person was facilitating the matrix that have shattered her. She wasn't. [01:07:48] She wasn't being aggressively nasty. But I mean, what she was that anyway. [01:07:57] So, [01:07:59] of course, can meetings is inviting, we're talking heads, and we're talking condoms and so forth. So that was that was his assumption that all we were doing was screwed. Anyway. [01:08:14] And what about other meetings? I mean, did you did you go in talk to anti reform meetings to do didn't talk to [01:08:26] David cable was addressing one [01:08:29] at a high school Hall. And [01:08:33] my friend, Charles and I were determined to get in there and asked for equal time. And it sort of developed that they were going to call the police and have us removed. And David came out and persuaded us that it was better all around, if we just quietly withdrew. So we abandon that one. No, sir. On another occasion, the police will cold and we were escorted off the premises. But we didn't resist. I mean, I wasn't [01:09:07] really throwing myself on the ground and Back in Black [01:09:09] me away. But there was one high school where it really got out of hand. That was one where we were demanding equal time, and I had all my notes ready to tell them the facts of life I [01:09:23] just didn't have in the Bible. Anyway. [01:09:26] But we ended up there just chatting is equal time. And every time they tried to address the congregation audience, we just shut them down. And eventually the police came in the mood. [01:09:41] How many pro reform people would have been with you doing something like that? [01:09:48] A big meeting that probably be 20 of us. [01:09:52] Roughly, [01:09:54] did you find scary standing up in a meeting that's kind of really anti anti, you know, [01:10:03] by then, you know, I'd hit number of years of being [01:10:06] an alpha sexual. I knew that they were wrong. [01:10:11] But I knew they were wrong. And I never feared for my safety at those meetings. I did prep some one [01:10:19] of the matches, but [01:10:21] and I just felt [01:10:24] it was a bit embarrassing. When I spotted I was registered at the time, until I was reached out to politic at the time. So I was tasked with the administrative manager, the line manager of all the non teaching staff. And it was a bit disconcerting to see one of my employees one of my [01:10:46] line of management, as the manager as a member of the audience delegation. [01:10:52] And I had someone circulated the petition at the politic. And I saw it, I didn't try to remove it. But I thought when I saw that one person, in particular, nice woman who socialized quite a lot with David and me, had signed up. [01:11:09] And I said to Roberta [01:11:11] hills, this about, you know, David and me like us, we socialize together. I didn't realize she felt like this better sit on you and David a wonderful at all the wrist. [01:11:23] And I subsequently discovered that she was the same about Mary. So every gay person she had me It was lovely. [01:11:32] And all the risks bastards. [01:11:37] What sort of thinking is there? But they are, that was what happened. [01:11:43] In the street, much as you were saying they were quite intense. [01:11:47] Yeah, they were because you didn't get a lot of people to them. And I think early one or two, but coming down Manchester district, you've got stuff thrown at you and abuse [01:12:02] survived [01:12:06] by experience of matches and an opposition and police was in 8586 was nothing compared with what 1981 over the Springboks are in there, you really did feel endangered. And also, I was far more rid of I behaved more radically, then. I mean, you know, I was party to line down at intersections and all that sort of thing. [01:12:36] Do you think if it hadn't been for something like the Springbok tour, we would have got the kind of protests that we didn't law reform. [01:12:49] Do you? Do you think that it was just [01:12:50] the continuation of a change? [01:12:54] I wondered about that and thought all, you know, this was [01:12:57] our generation. We were the protesters. But then you said yeah, yeah. yeahs, safe film footage of what Frank Lucas during the strike. And really what we didn't survive was nothing compared with what early union movement people put up with. [01:13:17] Did you ever think that the homosexual Law Reform at 536 would not go through would? [01:13:24] I mean, as far as I'm concerned, was touch go to the night past? And if it hadn't been again, it was George? George. George, do? I think Lucifer Dr. Yeah. Tomorrow, George gear change sides. I thought it was last [01:13:42] by vote auto. [01:13:45] So I mean, it was real jubilation. I mean, I thought we'd come back to us as a lead we eventually did on the human rights issues. But But you know, we've all read put time and money and time and money in political suede into the 8586 campaign. [01:14:04] I was very proud when it went through because it was relatively radical in terms of common age of consent, and such a low age of consent. That was remarkable in the Western world, really. So I was very proud of that, too. And so once again, you see them was leading the way and in social reform. [01:14:24] And it's quite interesting, because on one hand, you've got the kind of political campaign. But on the other hand, you've also got the whole public campaign in getting people on side and saying, literally, homosexuality is not necessarily such a evil. [01:14:37] Yeah. And although what was critical to law reform was the political campaign, we largely took our lead [01:14:45] from Wellington, [01:14:47] that were invited to get feedback and so forth. So and we certainly did a lot of [01:14:52] little writing and campaigning among local MPs pays to make sure they were on the right side, and to try and convert them if they weren't. But for me, the public campaign was far more important, really, that to me was the real victory. In the fact that by and large, particularly once, particularly once the Human Rights changes have been made, because once they once they'd be married, I mean, you really, you really had a defense if you're employed but snotty. [01:15:27] And that happened in 1992, passed [01:15:30] in 93. The campaign was sort of 9293. [01:15:36] So the homosexual reform bill passed. Part One of the past two didn't and 96. Can you recall the night that passed in what we do? [01:15:52] Or just socialized quietly, I wasn't seeing the big those, listen to the radio, radio not or suppose it was broadcast empowerment, [01:16:03] elation, breaking out the champagne. [01:16:08] And [01:16:10] you're not at that point. So if you're still got to deal with that, just really, for me, [01:16:17] I'm interested in your formula and [01:16:19] human rights, but that was decriminalization, that [01:16:25] is the major goal at that point. [01:16:29] And afterwards, just a general feeling that that's that one. That's, that's good. Zealand's now up there with the more enlightened Western countries. And this will make a lot of difference [01:16:45] to generations to come. [01:16:47] I do. I think I've eventually, [01:16:51] occasionally I feel a bit sad to show the juniors field semi, that that the younger generation doesn't want really appreciate what the fight was like for their freedom. [01:17:07] Just paid, I've got the freedom. But even now, [01:17:09] you know, [01:17:13] it's the same. Everything really is now. [01:17:16] So for you. Did the law reform change the way you lived your life? [01:17:24] No, not really. [01:17:27] Because although they've been that experience, and 79, and you know, odd cases for laughter that, [01:17:34] really by 8586. [01:17:39] The police hits stopped their activity, at least as far as I know, they had stopped their activity. And certainly by them, if there was violence in the park, for example. they would they would pursue their and prosecute, robustly prosecute the perpetrators. So things had started [01:18:08] to shift. During the [01:18:12] at one stage, I was on a police gay community [01:18:21] cooperative [01:18:22] group that met from time to time and raise questions, I remember the main question we we raised was with them [01:18:32] was the whole question of [01:18:34] violence or domestic violence [01:18:37] with same sex couples, men and women, which the must have been something that triggered but that was a bit of an issue at the time. And we wanted to make sure that you know that they understood that the same sex relationships had the same dynamics and so on as strike ones, and that, you know, that they had an obligation to, to investigate those and support the [01:19:02] victim, all that sort of thing. [01:19:05] So when you think now about kind of the younger generation, and you see them with equality, in a lot of areas, maybe not in all areas. Do you have any reflections on? [01:19:21] Yeah, I'm just, I'm just glad that the law changed that I was part of changing it. [01:19:28] Basically, both parts of the law, by the way, [01:19:31] I mean, but the the decriminalization and the human rights, because the human rights in practical terms, frankly, the human rights legislation is more important [01:19:42] than decriminalizing [01:19:46] for the ordinary person, day by day, [01:19:49] you know, but I know occasionally politic that a student who says, I'm gay as far as I know, I'm the only guy in my class and my tutor makes at K REMAX. [01:20:01] And I speak, [01:20:03] and I expect CPE it to do something about that. [01:20:07] And I said, we certainly will, [01:20:11] and got a section on sexual orientation, roof and then to the harassment policy, that sort of thing. There's that guy. The fact that he can sleep with his boyfriend doesn't actually call the difference. He probably slept with his boyfriend, even the floor hadn't changed. But in class or at the institution or out in the bakery or whatever makes a difference.

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