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Trevor Lawler: One of a kind

Thu 2 Feb 2012 In: Hall of Fame View at Wayback View at NDHA

Trevor Lawler was 67 “One of a kind” is the description Steve Goslin uses to sum up his partner of 17 years, interior designer, gay rights campaigner and all-round fun guy Trevor Lawler, who died over the weekend, aged 67. Testament to his popularity is the way the news of Lawler's passing spread: there was no need for a formal notice; gay word of mouth had the news spread up and down the country and to friends across the Tasman in no time at all. Lawler had battled a respiratory illness for the past three years and his death, from a heart attack, was not unexpected. “He kept saying he was in the departure lounge waiting for take-off,” a drained yet upbeat with stories and memories Goslin recalls. He’s talking over the phone from the home near Peka Peka Beach on the Kapiti Coast the couple shared, and says his partner died surrounded by friends at a gay party, which was the type of environment he adored. “He’d just been having a good gay old time. And when it happened I was surrounded by lots of people, which was really nice … He did it his way really. He knew the time was coming up. He did it well.” Goslin believes his late partner would like to be remembered as a positive gay person, and one of the instigators of Homosexual Law Reform. “He was one of the leading lights of putting it through,” he says, sharing how his partner was one of kind. He shares the details of the upcoming celebration of his lover’s life, and then passes the phone over to Lawler’s former partner Chris Piesse, who is among those gathered at the Peka Peka beach house, sharing memories, laughter and tears. Piesse was with Lawler for ten years and during the HLR battle in the 1980s. They lived in Wellington and Piesse says Lawler knew the bill’s sponsor Fran Wilde very well. During this heated time in our history the couple moved to the East Coast and started the Gisborne Gay Taskforce, before ultimately returning to Wellington in the face of homophobia and harassment. “Trevor was one of the first people to be sacked in the country, for being at law reform meetings that were pro rather than anti,” Piesse says. “He was right out there, he was a very out gay man and wasn’t going to be told by anyone that he couldn’t do what he wanted to do. It was pretty scary at times, especially in a small town like Gisborne. “Trevor was just one of those people who stood out in the crowd and was always there and very forthright. People knew him and either liked it or didn’t, but everybody knew who he was. He was just somebody that was out in the community all the time, and very visibly, we were social at that stage of our lives, as everyone was back then,” he laughs. “Everyone knew him.” Trevor Lawler is being cremated and will be farewelled at a celebration at his Peka Peka home this Saturday, which 150 to 200 people are expected to attend.     Jacqui Stanford - 2nd February 2012

Credit: Jacqui Stanford

First published: Thursday, 2nd February 2012 - 1:43pm

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