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Organisers pleased with Hamilton Pride

Sat 14 Aug 2010 In: New Zealand Daily News

Stitch and Butch at Hamilton Pride Organisers of Hamilton Pride believe they nailed it this year, providing a diverse mix of community-run events which atttracted solid crowds. Pride Week was launched on the 5th of August with an art exhibition, something the organising committee hasn't done before. Co-chair Lynda Johnson believes it worked extremely well, with around 250 people turning up. "It was a real pleasure to work with the art curator Simon Nicholls and we hope to continue having art as part of each festival." Johnson says she was blown away by the Hikoi on Heels and Hamilton Pride Festival party, which packed Shine Nightclub to capacity. "Combining these events meant it was a win-win for Hui Takatapui and Hamilton queer communities. We were able to raise funds, promote safe sex and celebrate who we all are." About 100 people came along to the university panel ‘Crossing Boundaries: bodies, borders, sexes' and the Richard O'Brien documentary screening. Johnson says Stitch and Butch was hilarious, joking that she always enjoys a good "yarn", while the lesbian quiz night was "super slick and fun". The only thing Johnson thinks could have been better is the weather. "We like to think that what we do goes some way in making Hamilton a place where gender and sexual diversity is celebrated," she says. "As a city we are ‘small' enough to make an impact with our festival - we can challenge the hetero and gendered norms. Yet, this small city still has a great deal of rural conservatism. Oppression and discrimination still exist, hence the need to keep reminding everyone that we are all fabulous." Co-treasurer Luke Van Helden says Pride Week is kind of like a check in, or check up. "It's the one time of the year when you know you can meet up with friends and hang out or participate in some event, and have a fuller sense of community and queerness. It is often a reference point in people's lives as well." Van Helden says socially things are pretty good in Hamilton, but institutionally there remain some challenges. "Young people being themselves at school such as being able to go to the formal dance with the person of their choosing. Employees needing the support and permission of their admin to be out, such as a photographs of them at a pride event to be published in the media or for a teacher to be out. And trans people being treated fairly and hired for jobs." Hamilton Pride is an umbrella group and the secret to its success seems to be the way it networks and brings piles of community groups together, with Gay Link, Lesbian Social Group, Agender Waikato, Waikato Queer Youth, Askew and the New Zealand AIDS Foundation just some of the many organisations involved. Sarah Lamont from both the pride committee and Agender Waikato says the Queeraoke on the Friday night had excellent involvement, with plenty of singers and dancers and people seeming to enjoy themselves. "My only criticism was the overlap of some of the events, particularly on Friday the 6th of August.    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Saturday, 14th August 2010 - 8:23pm

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