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Meeting places

In this podcast Alison talks about the different types of places queer communities met.

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This podcast was funded by a generous grant from the Gay Line Wellington Trust with the support of the Rule Foundation


In the podcast "Meeting places", recorded in Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand, on January 12th, 2011, presenter Alison Laurie discusses the historical gathering places of the queer communities, with a focus on the 1940s. With a background in Gender and Women's Studies at Victoria University of Wellington, as well as being a writer, oral historian, and LGBTQ+ activist, Laurie provides an informed perspective on the evolution of social scenes for individuals interested in relationships with people of their same sex, both in New Zealand and abroad.

During the late 18th century, upper-class men frequented molly houses in London, which raised concerns among societies aiming to preserve moral standards. Parks and men's toilets served as public areas for men to connect in cities like Paris, functioning not only for sexual encounters but also as active social hubs. However, women did not have similar access to public spaces without arousing suspicion, often being assumed to engage in sex work. Reports from early 19th-century Paris suggest women may have congregated in restaurants attached to brothels. By contrast, upper-class societies and nightclubs provided discreet meeting opportunities, as seen in Natalie Barney's Parisian salon.

In New Zealand, the context for queer meeting places varied significantly. With restrictive licensing practices, such as 6:00 PM closing times after 1918 and no allowance for women in public bars, queer social life emerged differently. Non-existent lesbian or gay bars led to coffee bars and private parties as common gathering spaces. Terms like "kamp" were preferred over "gay" or "lesbian", carrying less pejorative connotations. Parties served as central to the social fabric, often frequented by those who did not explicitly identify as "kamp".

Houses for rent became available post-World War II due to a robust state housing policy, offering venues for private gatherings. The international influence on queer culture was significant, with ships' crew members bringing news, fashions, and prohibited media to New Zealand, thus shaping local queer identities.

By the late 20th century, the landscape changed with 10:00 PM pub closings, making way for nightclubs and bars resembling international counterparts. The Dorian Club in 1962 marked the first formal club in Wellington, followed by the KG Club in Auckland, initiated by Maori women, and Wellington's Club 41 which emerged from the Sisters for Homophile Equality. These operated within legal constraints by using ticket sales to circumvent alcohol licensing barriers.

Entering the 1990s and beyond, the Internet transformed how queer individuals connect, offering anonymous and expansive options, though Laurie notes that safety remains a concern. This shift to digital meeting spaces parallels earlier diverse social practices, enabling a more fluid and broad exploration of sexual identity.

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:12th January 2011
Location:Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand
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Archive:The master recording is archived at the Alexander Turnbull Library (OHDL-004067).