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2006 New Year's honours: The ten Finest!

Mon 1 Jan 2007 In: Community View at NDHA

Whilst many New Zealanders, gay lesbian, straight or whatever, made a positive difference in our lives or people's understanding of our lives, these are the ten folk staffers felt stood out more prominently than most in 2006. They are, in alhpabetical order... SIMON CALCINAI Simon was the straight chap at the Christchurch Pride event who took offense when a supposedly gay-friendly police recruiter suggested he stand a better chance of getting into the force if he ditched his colourful scarf which was "A bit too gay!" Calcinai bristled, objected at the highest levels of police bureaucracy and went public in the media in a spirited attack on the sort of background denigration that blights the lives of too many glbt New Zealanders. The police apologised, eventually, and the neanderthal recruiter was advised to get some couselling. Straight folk can be wonderful sometimes! BISHOP GEORGE CONNOR He was always going to inflame the dinosaurs of the Anglican Church's conservative right. He was even going to cause those in the middle ground of the church to wonder a little about where the church was heading (internationally it's still struggling with 'the homosexuality issue'), but Dunedin's Bishop Connor stuck to his guns and ordained openly gay Juan Kinnear as a Deacon, thus setting the stage for Kinnear's likely progression into full ministry. A small cabal objected, some out of towners even drove all day to protest during the ordination (then flounced out in a huff) but Connor stuck to his guns. Strength of character will always beat bigotry hands down. CHARLES CHAUVEL MP Has any newbie MP in the history of NZ Parliamentary politics had to face the barrage of sleaze attacks that ushered Labour's latest gay MP into the house? From his work background (high powered lawyer and commissioner) to his home (rather upmarket in central Wellington) to his family ("He and male partner have kids??? Shudder"), everything was dragged through the media mudheap. Chauvel maintained his dignity. When finally even his professional ethics were questioned he came out fighting... and his detractors suddenly shut up. For gay community commitment, impressive competency and strength of character, Charles just had to be on this list. FERTILITY ASSOCIATES Despite bizarre claims from the scientifically challenged and hate-mongers, that gay donors' sperm would create gay offspring, and despite calls for recipients of sperm from gay donors to be advised of the donor's sexuality, preeminent artificial conception specialists Fertility Associates struck down a long standing and nonsensical ban on gay donor sperm. Realising that scientific evidence was more rational than knee-jerk "gay sperm panic," and that all parties to the artificial conception process were rational adults, Fertility Associates knocked yet another block out of the wall of inequality that too often segregates gays from straights. DICK HUBBARD Auckland's mayor, it will be remembered, started his mayoralty under a hideous cloud of anti-gay bigotry and pseudo-science, goaded on by his conservative religious mates. But Hubbard transcended homophobia and has emerged as a genuinely inclusive mayor. This year he attended the Big Gay Out, delivering an excellent speech and wearing a dodgy rainbow-hued tie. He defied conservative councillors by generously supporting the 20 Years of Law Reform celebrations at the Town Hall, effortlessly mingling with the hundreds of flashed up poofs and dykes who packed the town hall. He's come a long way. JACK MAGAZINE Everyone associated with Jack take a bow! This classy, edgy, slightly off the wall publication has singlehandedly redefined gay media - and perhaps gay culture - for the new age, hitting the mark with every issue. Bold, attractive, aware, with heaps of personality, and with lots of attractive 'friends' scattered through its pages, Jack is the boyfriend gay New Zealanders all quietly hunger for. SARAH LAMBOURNE Almost singlehandedly Sarah has reinvigorated the party and venue scene for Auckland lesbians. In a notoriously cliquey and divided women's community everyone seems to love her, perhaps enhanced by her undoubted networking ability and natural skill at establishing relationships. Sarah's on top of her game, knows how to show girls a good time - and there's been no one like her for years. SIMON LATIMER Cute, athletic (no, genuinely athletic, he's a champion diver with NZ rep credentials), outgoing and community-oriented, Simon became the poster boy for the New Zealand contingent at the international Out Games and Gay Games, scoring a whole swag of medals. He happily lent his name, face and speedoed bod to the AIDS Foundation for their "My Health is my Greatest Asset" campaign. Simon loves attention and he's worthy of it. BRENT MITCHELL His day job may be as a health promoter at the NZAF's Ettie Routt centre, but Brent Mitchell is also a boundlessly energetic booster for community events and cohesiveness in Christchurch. The impressive non-paid hours he puts in almost singlehandedly ensures the ongoing viablilty of Christchurch Pride, a multi-sexuality, multi-event spectacle of glbt visibility and unity in the garden city. In a city which has more than a thread of intolerance of minorities running not too far below the surface, Mitchell's events help keep gays visible and the garden city's glbt community viable. JONATHAN SMITH For bringing international-quality glamour and professionalism back to the drag stage bigtime. Smith's third Queen of the Whole Universe uber-pageant proved that his ability to herd dozens of drag divas and support people towards a common goal, to present a sequined spectacle with panache and humour, to lift our spirits and to make a buck or two or three for the NZ AIDS Foundation, hasn't been a series of flukes. Despite some carping from folks with unclear agendas, Smith bought back fabulosity and high spirits as more one tool to address soaring HIV HIV infections. And, hell, we need that! staff - 1st January 2007

Credit: staff

First published: Monday, 1st January 2007 - 12:00pm

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