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UniQ's AJ Marsh

Tue 11 Jan 2005 In: Hall of Fame

AJ Marsh AJ Marsh fronts up to LGBT issues on campus and helped ensure the Destiny Blackshirt Rally did not go unchallenged. Who are you and what's your background? My full name is Allan-John Marsh. I'm 27, and as I tell people, born the day that Marc Bolan from T-Rex died. I'm a British-born Briton and unashamedly proud of my culture and identity. I was born in Swindon, Wiltshire and raised in beautiful Cumbria. I have one younger sister. Ko Pen-y-Ghent te maunga, ko Avon te awa. My turanga-waewae is Bath. My dad's family are from all over Britain and he was born in India during the war. My Geordie mother's family are from Northumbria and she (5th of 10 children) are her siblings are first generation to be English speaking (instead of Welsh). We came to the Promised Land, Upper Hutt, when I was 5. Cancer took my mother a few years ago; my dad and sister live in Spain. My extended family are spread around Spain and Britain, and one branch of my mam's family live in NZ. I've been at Victoria University since 1998 (lots of half years), studying Tourism, Spanish and English. I have been involved with UniQ since 2001, and was co-President in 2004 along with Maddy Drew, an amazing and committed woman. What have you hoped to achieve through your work at UniQ? As is the on-going goal, greater visibility for queer students and a safer environment in which to study. We had no problems reported to us in 2004 which was great, and aside from anger over Destiny Church staying on the marae, I think our students benefited from a great, LGBT-friendly year. In 2004 I was able to do what I love doing: organising events. Maddy was very much the face of UniQ, tending to administration, PR, etc, which left me to organise the parties, Pride Week and the CUB support rallies. I think that UniQ's just had its best year ever at Victoria with an active involvement in university life and Wellington city, and we turned a profit from our events! In 2005, we're hosting the national UniQ conference, and I'll help behind the scenes with that. What characterises the NZ GLBT community for you? I think that we really are like one big family, albeit not necessarily a happy one. It's like 2 degrees of Kevin Bacon. We have so much potential for a stronger voice. What's the worst thing for you about being GLBT? Knowing that we're the most persecuted and detested group of people to ever have existed. It's quite a sobering realisation. Best thing? Knowing that we're actually the superior ones, not the inferior ones!! But seriously, knowing that we're the superior ones, not the inferior ones. Relationship status? I live with the kindest, happiest person I've ever known, am extremely in love and couldn't wish for anyone else. Favourite food and drink? Traditional British roast chicken with Yorkshires, and Brut. Worst habit? Chewing the ends of my fingers. Most noble feature? Big ears. Favourite TV show/movie? MadTV / Boogie Nights Qualities you most appreciate in a GLBT person? Good hygiene; doesn't hate men (if lesbian), doesn't hate women (if gay man), doesn't hate bisexuals (and vice versa), actually someone that doesn't hate anyone; a doer, not a moaner. What are you reading at the moment? Just finished Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser and it was brilliant. Who in the world including NZ would you most like to have coffee and a chat with? The Queen. Role models? My parents are my only role models and I miss them both so much. I greatly admire Georgina Beyer and Mahinarangi Tocker, and have a profound respect for so many others, gay and straight. What is the most pressing issue currently facing the New Zealand GLBT community? Apathy. We're attacked so easily because we're so silent, and we let ‘them' pass their disgusting judgements upon us, on our lifestyles, on our individuality. Garth George for example can state that we constitute less than 2% of the population, and who has publicly questioned him on it? If we weren't afraid to walk the streets holding hands, to stand up to criticism, to glare back at the glarers, the collective strength would grow. I'm annoyed when I hear many of us reveal our internalised homophobia by, for example, criticising others who aren't ashamed to kiss or embrace in public as being ‘too visible'. There is no shame in not being straight! Besides, the more visible we are and the more we stand up for ourselves, the smoother the road will be for others to come out. It's not just about visibility. LGBT frequently people complain that there's not enough to do, not enough parties, the clubs are too dull, etc., yet when concerted efforts are made to provide variety, there's often overt criticism of the product and not enough support. If you could have one wish granted what would it be? World Peace? I wish that we could treat others with dignity, keep our cool, be respectful for everything, from courteous driving to civic responsibility or good citizenship, and leave be the personal lives of our neighbours! - 11th January 2005


First published: Tuesday, 11th January 2005 - 12:00pm

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