Auckland Pride Month: the B of the LGBT Community
It’s Auckland Pride Month! Such an exciting time of year, with heaps of cool things to see and do, and lots of friends across the LGBT community who you only get to see once a year to catch up with. In keeping with the flavour of the month, I have been asked by my sister to contribute a piece. So honoured!
The internet has a million think pieces about gays and lesbians, and I’m not going to rehash their (very valid) arguments here. It’s high time the camera was panned sideways, to bring in the ‘B’ and the ‘T’ of the LGBT community. I’m going to talk in particular about the ‘B’ and where we’re at in terms of the LGBT civil rights movement.
I will say it here: I am bisexual. I had always believed that I was completely straight, but when I was 17 years old, I met another guy around my age and for some reason, I was seriously attracted to him. Nothing came of it, but it was a foundational moment in time in my life, because it helped me to completely re-evaluate who I was.
“You’re greedy!” “Pick a side!” “You just don’t want to admit you’re gay.” “When guys say that it means they show a straight face to the world but sleep with men when no one’s watching.” All those things have been said to me, either to my face or online (yeah, even the last of those quotes, which was said to me by a self-proclaimed ‘gay rights activist’ on Twitter). Bisexual men are massive victims of bisexual erasure – part of that stereotype which views bisexual women as people trying to lead men on, and bisexual men as ‘closet gays’. Approximately 40 per cent of bisexual men have attempted suicide, and are at a greater risk of developing depression, alcohol dependency, and other such mental health issues. For my part, I have been on anti-depressants for several years and spent much of my late teens and early twenties binge-drinking with straight friends, to try and ‘man up’ and make the bi go away.
I have since found healthier ways to validate myself and to embrace my sexual orientation, in the face of some incredible discrimination (“Are you sure?” is still the number one question I get when I come out to anyone.) Furthermore, bisexuality is becoming more accepted and understood within the LGBT community. I’m not talking about the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1986 and the legalisation of same-sex marriage in 2013. Bisexuality is becoming more accepted at the grassroots level. This is why I strongly believe in the politics of inclusion, and bringing people in from across the community to discuss where we’re at in New Zealand in 2019. Which leads me on to the current state of LGBT politics and the LGBT community.
Now, for some drama! The Auckland Pride Board met in late 2018 to work out what was going to happen for the regularly scheduled annual Auckland Pride Parade in February. I was deeply disappointed to see that the Board had told the police that they were not welcome in uniform. The police, followed by the New Zealand Defence Force, Vodafone, SkyCity, Fletcher Building, ANZ, and several other sponsors who had helped to foster so much goodwill in the community, withdrew. It wasn’t just corporates either. By the end of the year, the Pride Board had survived a motion of no-confidence and there it was. The Auckland Pride Parade was in ruins, destroyed by the agenda of a neo-Marxist group of prison abolitionists who wish to dominate the Auckland LGBT community by dividing and excluding. It was not a pleasant chain of events: physical fights broke out at board meetings, and friendships were destroyed amid accusations of vote-stacking.
The LGBT community needs spaces to be themselves, and to take a breather from the overwhelming dominance of heteronormativity. However, undoing all the progress that was made means that our community has withdrawn into itself, and given the middle finger to organisations and people that its leadership sees as ‘oppressive’, ‘colonialist’, ‘patriarchal’, and a string of other words that woke white feminists enjoy deploying against their online enemies to try and shut them down. Gone are the days when police would head up to Karangahape Road to ‘arrest a tranny’. Government agencies are now well-represented during Pride Month. Former Prime Minister John Key made a point of attending every single Big Gay Out during his prime ministership, and current Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was the first prime minister to march in the Pride Parade in 2018. We aren’t going to shift the amount of discrimination that still exists in New Zealand against our community by pretending that certain organisations don’t exist and banishing them from Pride events based on what they wear – you know, the very strategy that both straight and gay people use against bisexuals, transgender people, and non-binary people. Edging out the large number of LGBT members in the police force and other government agencies will get us precisely nowhere.
So…where to from here? Clearly, we have a long way to go! When I think about LGBT politics, I think inclusion. This doesn’t necessarily mean that every single person in our community must be chummy. Having personal experience with the need to validate myself, and with the current state of global politics, it’s more important than ever that we keep the doors open, welcome people, and allow them a space to be comfortable with who they are and what they identify as.
I think I’ll wrap it up there, because I think I’ve made my point now. I’ll leave y’all to get into massive LGBT rights related arguments in the comment section. Be sure to follow me on the ‘gram!
About the author:
James, Kat’s brother, is an active member of the LGBT community. He enjoys history, chocolate and travelling. He has lived in China and England and has travelled extensively (only one more continent to go!). James’ next adventure will be: New York, where he will eat pizza, try not to get run over by taxis and will visit museums!