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GayNZ.com's 2011 New Year's honours

Sun 1 Jan 2012 In: Hall of Fame View at Wayback View at NDHA

Throughout a year of magnificent highs and shattering lows a few heroes have stood out in 2011 as those GayNZ.com has come to especially admire... Just a few of the Outgames crew, at the closing ceremony The Outgames crew - for pulling off the biggest glbti event NZ has ever known Organising a huge international festival of glbti sports, culture and human rights would surely have defeated any other glbti community in the country. The smart money was always on the Capital, with its unique mix of people able to form seamlessly into committees and sub-committees and advisory groups and supervisors and coordinators, to come up trumps. From the co-chairs, the organisers, the venue helpers, the planners, the behind the scenes folk and the 'tidy up the loose ends' crews, this was a magnificent effort and a fabulous success. Lindsay Curnow and Juliet Leigh - for humour and dignity in the face of hatred Again and again elderly lesbians Lindsay and Juliet's Northland home, business and property have been targeted with homophobic vandalism, arson and grafitti. Still there are no apparent leads though the police seem to be taking the situation more seriously than at first. There's no indication that the culprits have got the hatred out of their system yet. Who knows what the future will bring, hopefully not more of the same. Although they have been shaken by this madness Lindsay and Juliet have also been quietly brave when others might have lost their heads or their courage. Special mention: to all those, straight and glbti alike, who have reached out to this embattled and brave pair in their times of need. Arie Smith-Voorkamp and Michael Davis - for fighting injustice
 It was a bizarre case and one that captivated the nation's media: a man with Asperger's being arrested for looting in the frantic aftermath of the February quake in Christchurch. Arie Smith-Voorkamp is utterly compelled to electrics and went into a quake-hit house for a couple of light fittings. His partner Michael Davis was also charged while trying to help him, and the couple was even slapped with a non-association order. They bravely went on TV's Sunday programme and told their story and gained the support of many in their fight, before finally being cleared. Afterwards they just wanted to get on with their lives, and we hope they are. Special mention: Lawyer Jonathan Eaton, a leader in his profession who took their case on pro-bono because, as he explained: "As a defence lawyer whenever you are aware of a case where you think things aren't going to plan, maybe falling off the rails and someone is getting the raw end of the stick and maybe can't put that on track themselves, there's a sense of justice that prevails in you. And if you get the opportunity then you get in and hopefully push things back on the rails again." The UpRising Trust - for keeping the glbti flame burning in Christchurch 
We salute the group of like-minded community members who came together in the wake of the devastation in Christchurch, to ensure Canterbury's glbti people could still get out and about and socialise together from time to time. The parties they have organised so far have been hits, and we look forward to more in 2012!

 Mandy and Sally Whitewoods - for saving Gay Ski Week When the company that ran the annual Gay Ski Week went into liquidation, Queenstown couple Mandy and Sally Whitewoods swiftly picked up and ran with what they could and ensured there was still a schedule for all those from overseas and NZ already heading to the event. The speed with which they did the salvage job was phenomenal and just the kind of community spirit and can-do attitude we love. The great news is Gay Ski Week will be back with this couple at the helm next year! Our glbti youth - for rolling their sleeves up and reaching out 
It's been a big year for our youth, who have taken stands against bullying through a powerful Pink Shirt Day and its letter writing campaign, plus the incredible Kazam! hui where lives were changed. The Legalise Love and Queer Avengers campaigns were also sparked by younger glbti people, and at this rate we think 2012 will be even better. Special mentions: Kevin Hague, for taking a stand on our youth issues in Parliament, and the staff from both Rainbow Youth and Q-Youth for leading the way at ground level. Stuart Yeatman - for being calm, cool and collected in a shocking year You'd think your gay venue business being slammed into the red zone dust by a killer quake would be more than enough bad luck for one year. But when Christchurch's Stuart Yeatman took a stress break in a warmer, less shaky locale, he discovered the body of a gay Kiwi friend who had just been murdered in Thailand - and stayed on to push at the Thai police until they got their act together and solved the case. Backed up by his business and life partner John McKelvie, Stuart has somehow maintained an even keel when others might have collapsed into sobs.   Wayne Otter
 - for services to humanity Wayne Otter's life so far has been a complex journey, of struggles and unexpected changes of direction which would have hammered weaker individuals into the ground. But he survived. Better than that, Wayne and his alter-egos, Ella and Miss K, eventually thrived, doing community mental health work in the Bay Of Plenty which led to two decades of counselling gay and HIV positive men, eventually rising to become manager of the NZAF's flagship Burnett Centre. Along the way Wayne has been proactive in reaching out, strong in his views and a professional and personal support for too many gay and bi Kiwi men to count. Recently resigned from the NZAF, he is unlikely to disappear and we can all be grateful for that.     - 1st January 2012

Credit: GayNZ.com

First published: Sunday, 1st January 2012 - 12:01am

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