Carmen Rupe Carmen Rupe, the trans-Tasman transsexual entertainer who died a year ago today, was "an antipodean Rosa Parkes [sic]" according to the Sydney-based trust formed earlier this year in her name. Rupe, who was born in Taumarunui and spent her adult life in Sydney, Auckland and Wellington, died in Sydney last December after a period of successive illnesses. She was variously an exotic dancer, a street worker and a coffee house proprietress. "Carmen personified that generation of pioneering GLBTI community leaders who led the charge out of that repressive closet where people of difference been imprisoned for thousands of years," says the Carmen Rupe Memorial Trust in an effusive tribute marking the first anniversary of her death. Rosa Parks (with Martin Luther King) "Carmen, along with other human rights trailblazers of that generation, helped reshape our society in ways that seemed utterly inconceivable to many at that time," the Trust states. It describes her as an "entertainer, media darling, charity queen, activist and cultural icon." The Trust calls her "another Rosa Parkes [sic]," a reference to the daring black southern American woman who in 1955 refused a white bus driver's order to stand so a white bus passenger could sit. Her protest triggered what became one of the seminal moments of the US civil Rights movement. Parks was much later formally acknowledged by the US Congress as "the first lady of civil rights" and "the mother of the freedom movement." At the time she was secretary of the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP, a powerful black Americans' rights organisation. In facing the "all pervasive ignorance and homophobia which saw many of our communities brave pioneers systematically ridiculed, beaten and spat upon during that era, as a Maori arriving here in 1959, Carmen bore an even uglier burden – that of racism, still deeply entrenched in Australian culture at that time," the Trust says. "Carmen's life achievements in the face of such adversity make her an antipodean Rosa Parkes [sic], the heroine of the US Civil Rights Movement in the 1950's and 60's through who through [sic] one simple act of resistance - refusing to ride at the back of the bus as proscribed under the racial segregation laws of that time - inspired a generation." The Trust says Carmen "helped change our world for the better... In the process, Carmen blazed a beautifully scented trail for all of us who follow in her glittering footsteps." You can discuss this New Zealand gay community news story in the GayNZ.com Forum.
Credit: GayNZ.com Daily News staff
First published: Saturday, 15th December 2012 - 8:49pm
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