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Alison Laurie

In this podcast Elizabeth Kerekere introduces a queer history talk by Alison Laurie.

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This abstract summarizes a 41-minute presentation recorded at the Tapu te Ranga Marae in Wellington, New Zealand, during the KAHA Youth Hui of 2009. The presentation, featuring Alison Laurie and introduced by Elizabeth Kerekere, delves into the queer history of the Maori people and the impacts of colonization on indigenous sexual identities and practices.

Elizabeth Kerekere sets the stage by recounting a famous Maori love story, illuminating how same-sex and both-sex relationships were traditionally accepted and prevalent within Maori culture. These narratives and behaviors were widespread until the colonization period, which saw European settlers and missionaries imposing their own value systems, including stringent sexual norms drawn from Christian ideologies. The recording highlights how colonization severely disrupted the longstanding natural and culturally integrated practices of the Maori people.

Kerekere establishes a connection to modern discomfort with non-heteronormative sexual orientations, pointing to a historical disconnect caused by colonial influence. The legacy of colonization in sexual attitudes casts a shadow over acknowledging and respecting the sexual diversity inherent in Maori historical narratives and everyday living.

Alison Laurie, taking over the conversation, discusses the broader history of same-sex relationships and gender identities across different cultures and time periods. The discussion touches upon notable historians like John Boswell who have found evidence of same-sex unions in ancient civilizations like Egypt and Rome. Laurie emphasizes the variety of attitudes and acceptance levels toward non-heteronormative relationships throughout history, up until the onslaught of the European invasion and Christian moral impositions.

The speaker further traces the repression during the late Middle Ages after the plague, noting the rise in witch hunts and increasing religious sanctions against non-traditional sexual acts.

Moving into more recent history, Laurie speaks of the legal battles and societal challenges faced by queer individuals in New Zealand, particularly with the advent of laws derived from British colonization that criminalized homosexuality. Despite legal constraints, individuals found various ways to live authentically, even though it meant considerable personal and professional risks.

Highlighting the sacrifices and struggles of earlier generations, the recording emphasizes the importance of legacy and remembrance in the queer community. Pioneers like Jack Goodman and Barry Neals played instrumental roles in advocating for homosexual law reform, which eventually succeeded in 1986 despite fierce opposition. The work continued with the addition of sexual orientation to the Human Rights Act in 1993, further entrenching protections against discrimination.

The narrative emphasizes the ongoing necessity of vigilance to preserve and extend the rights and recognition obtained through years of activism. It points out that the freedoms enjoyed today are the direct result of relentless dedication by past advocates and calls on the present and future generations to actively defend and strengthen these gains.

The recording concludes by stressing the duty individuals have to carrying on the fight for queer rights for the sake of future generations, encapsulated by the motto, "Take the light and hand it on."

This summary is created using Generative AI. Although it is based on the recording's transcription, it may contain errors or omissions. Click here to learn more about how this summary was created.

Record date:23rd January 2009
Location:Tapu te Ranga Marae, Wellington
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Archive:The master recording is archived at the Alexander Turnbull Library (OHDL-003824).