The SameSame But Different LGBTI writers festival launched last night with a gala evening exploring the “books that turned the light on” for some of New Zealand’s most well-known LGBTI writers. The evening was chaired by drag diva Buckwheat, who joked that her own book that turned the light on came very early on in life and was “probably a paint by numbers, which was how I put my eye makeup on tonight.” Festival Director Peter Wells thanked the board for working tirelessly to put the festival together, the festival’s sponsors who had offered some much-needed support and spoke of his hopes for the festival. The first ever LGBTI writers festival as part of the Auckland Pride Festival, Wells told the room that he has hopes this will be the first of many saying: “In the future I hope the festival will engage with thorny contemporary issues and the wider LGBTI community.” “This is a taste of things to come.” Sharing the “books that turned the light on” and opened up a world of possibilities, the panelists spoke of how books allowed them to begin their personal journey into sexuality and gender, cementing their future paths. Opening speaker, Joanne Drayton, shared her memories of reading The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, touted as one of the first mystery novels, Drayton expressed that as a young person she found herself always having to read between the lines, finding LGBTI storylines in novels written for other people. This was a sentiment shared by much of the panel, who all spoke of a longing, of seeking out a sense of themselves within the pages of books. Books and magazines were clearly something that offered up a world that was not so accessible for many in their youth. It was also clear the audience could relate to the stories shared by the writers - the chitter chatter of affirmation and perfectly timed giggles, tell tale signs of shared experiences. The diverse array of speakers included playwright Victor Rodger, editor of Metro Magazine Susannah Walker, emerging writer Cole Meyers and broadcaster Paul Diamond, among others. There were the shared tales of exploration through books such as The Famous Five and Dangerous Desires and then there were the books that were perhaps a little less obvious when exploring LGBTI storylines. Screenwriter and author Paula Boock shared her childhood fascination with Pinocchio who desired to be “a real boy”, others such as Susannah Walker discovered sexual diversity in the pages of Playboy magazine. The audience were treated to two spoken word performances during the evening. A tale of desire from Whaitiri Mikaere aka Diesel Dyke Poet and a brutally honest poem from emerging talent, Cole Myers, who received a standing ovation from many of those in attendance.
Credit: GayNZ.com Daily News staff
First published: Saturday, 13th February 2016 - 11:05am
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