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Comment: Youth in Pride

Thu 22 Oct 2015 In: Our Communities View at NDHA

Auckland University queer rights officer Tessa Naden highlights the importance of a having a visible youth presence in the Auckland Pride Festival. I left hopeful after the community hui at Studio one Te Tui on Tuesday night. This was something I wasn’t expecting, given how previous festivals have wound up for the community I represent - 4,000 queer students, most of whom have told me they don’t really attend Pride, or feel unengaged with it - I myself only attended three or four events. A quick visit to a high school yesterday told me the same thing; these young people, trying to take their first steps into the community, find it difficult to find their feet. Pride has had numerous issues, most of which I brought up at the hui last night, and issues I will continue banging on about until either the heat death of the universe or someone listens. Young people have not been included in prior festivals, almost all of the youth events are provided by one organisation, Rainbow Youth, or they cost a substantial amount of money for any young person to attend. The ‘Youth Leaders Conference’ is almost certainly not to the taste of many in our community, including me. One of those Rainbow Youth events was simply a board meeting that people were invited to come and observe, not even student politicians like me consider that an ‘event.’ Other youth organisations that provide services for the queer community, such as the Auckland University Students Association, which provides the one of the only queer space for young people in the city, felt disengaged with the Festival. Even worse is the situation for young lesbians at Pride, almost all of the events are run by and for older members of the lesbian community - which does not often engage with it’s younger members. The issues of queer youth and the parade are also complicated by the fact that many of the events take place in a small central city area, with some concessions to communities based out in the west. I saw hardly any events that were based outside that small area. Pride also must weather the criticism that combined with this geographical exclusion, there is a perception that Pride is for a certain group of queer people – the parts of the community that would like to see the entire queer scene move away from Karangahape Road and take up residences in Ponsonby. Class is very much at play in our community, as much as we would like to forget. So when I turned up to the hui, I was somewhat skeptical; the new Pride board didn’t feel any different to the old one, at least to me. But I think we are in for some real change: the new Board sat there and took it from a broad cross-section of our community, acknowledged the failures, and promised to take this feedback and actually apply it – I already have emails in my inbox about engaging queer students, something that gives me hope that next years festival should be a great improvement, if only in inclusion, from last year. GayNZ.com Daily News staff - 22nd October 2015    

Credit: GayNZ.com Daily News staff

First published: Thursday, 22nd October 2015 - 4:46pm

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