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Krys Baker

Krys Baker talks about the early years of the Manawatu Gay Rights Association (MAGRA), its development into the Manawatu Lesbian and Gay Rights Association (MALGRA) and then talks about the Association's future.

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Krys Baker discusses their involvement with the Manawatu Lesbian and Gay Rights Association (MALGRA) while being interviewed by Jac Lynch. Baker reflects on their own journey and contributions from the 1970s through the 2010s, including various roles such as past president, vice president, and welfare officer, highlighting the community's development and the challenges faced over the years.

Baker first got involved with the LGBTQ+ community in Palmerston North in the early 1980s, contributing notably to initiatives like the establishment of the lesbian line and support groups. They detail the significance of a local women's bookshop, not just as a retail space but as a safe haven where people could engage with others and access LGBTQ+ literature. Baker recalls how the location offered a chair next to the desk that was always occupied by individuals seeking conversation and support, symbolizing the importance of the bookshop in the community.

Furthermore, Baker emphasizes the importance of inclusivity within the LGBTQ+ community, pointing out that the collective not only consisted of individuals identifying as lesbian, but also included those who are gay, bisexual, intersex, transgender, feminist, and various other identities. They recount MALGRA's evolution from a focus on men's rights to a more inclusive approach, eventually incorporating the "big L" to reflect this shift. This reshaping highlights the dedication to embrace all members of the LGBTQ+ community, particularly noting the societal risks and lack of safety felt by gay men during that period.

The various changes across the decades are also touched upon, with Baker expressing a sense of nostalgia for the times when the community had a dedicated physical space such as the Square Edge Arts Centre, which provided a venue for socializing, group meetings, and resources like a library. Despite the eventual focus shift toward more club-oriented activities, Baker sees the historical value of these spaces in fostering a sense of community and support.

Returning to New Zealand in 2011 after some time away, Baker found themselves grappling with feelings about the community's loss of a permanent base thought to be central to MALGRA's activities. However, they take a philosophical view that revisiting the roots can pave the way forward. Baker is especially focused on the welfare of the community, noting their interest in supporting LGBTQ+ individuals with disabilities and the aging members of the community. They stress the importance of addressing potential drawbacks that these individuals may face, such as isolation or the possibility of having to conceal one's identity in care environments.

Looking ahead, Baker expresses optimism about the future despite the challenges presented by changes in the community's structure. There's a commitment to ensuring that MALGRA continues to evolve as a charity and serve the wider community effectively, from tackling hardship issues to embracing more inclusive approaches for all members of the LGBTQ+ spectrum.

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:9th July 2017
Interviewer:Jac Lynch
Location:Te Manawa Museum, Palmerston North
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Archive:The master recording is archived at the Alexander Turnbull Library (OHDL-004490).