In a crowded cafe sheltering from the rain speeches, waiata and performances have marked the installation of four Carmen-themed pedestrian lights in central Wellington. The green lights feature a silhouette of a young, slim Carmen beckoning pedestrians to cross at the intersections of Cuba Street with Dixon, Ghuznee and Vivian Streets. Mayor Celia Wade-Brown, wearing glamorous red high heels for the occasion, noted how social mores had changed since the days when moral puritanism and conservative policing were dangers for gay and transgender folk who have traditionally gravitated to the area. She symbolically switched the lights which mark the area where Carmen operated several late night venues and safe spaces featuring transgender entertainers and where many of the transgender streetworkers from as far back as the 1960s, and perhaps earlier, plied their trade. Rainbow Labour MP Grant Robertson and Carmen's long-time friend Dana de Milo spoke and actor Borni Te Tukiwaho performed as Carmen, who he portrayed in the How to Murder Your Wife TV programme. Mayor Wade-Brown says the idea for the lights seems to have taken hold when she was brainstorming alternative ideas when a campaign to erect a statue of Carmen appeared to run out of financial steam. She said she felt it was a logical next step after the installation of pedestrian lights in the Capital acknowledging women's suffrage campaigner Kate Sheppard. Wade-Brown says a statue of Carmen remains a live possibility. And she chuckled at a suggestion that perhaps it should have been the red lights which should have the Carmen image.
Credit: GayNZ.com Daily News staff
First published: Monday, 8th August 2016 - 4:27pm
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