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Wednesday 08 April 2009


New Year's GLBT Honours 2008/09

Posted in: Community
By GayNZ.com staff - 1st January 2009

There may have been no openly glbt people included in this year's national New Year's Honours list but there are plenty of people who have made remarkable and positive contributions to gay people's lives, either directly or indirectly.

So, as we do every year, GayNZ.com salutes, in more or less alphabetical order, some of the folk who have done more than most in the past year to enrich and enhance our lives.


CHRIS BANKS
While Communications Manager for the NZ AIDS Foundation Banks honed that organisation into a ruthlessly active and, more importantly, proactive media player, taking the fight against HIV and stigmatisation of men at risk of contracting the debilitating disease to new levels of strategic and operational rigour. The strain took its toll, he backed off and took his skills to another NGO, but while he was there Banks was one of the best staffers the NZAF ever had - and one of the glbt communities' best ever defenders of our right to be free from bigotry, discrimination and abuse.

CHRIS BRICKELL
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Chris Brickell
For decades to come Chris Brickell's well-researched and beautifully written Mates & Lovers: A History of Gay New Zealand, released this year, will be a must-read for anyone wanting to come to terms with the passion - sometimes casual, sometimes intense - which has always drawn a small proportion of kiwi men into each others' lives and beds. There have been other gay histories, and there will be more to come, but Otago historian Brickell is the first to comprehensively reveal how we became ourselves.


HELEN CLARK
Regularly fending off concerted efforts by the creepier denizens of the media and politics to brand her as a dyke (and her husband as a fag), Prime Minister Clark fearlessly maintained her close links to the glbt communities right to the electoral finish line. Using her position at the pinnacle of New Zealand politics she sent out the vibrantly clear message that to belong to a minority is no threat to anyone, and that the causes and effects of bigotry must be addressed.

STEVEN GRAY
He's almost as camp as Hudson and Halls, almost as incisive as Jane Clifton, almost as witty as Jeremy Wells, almost as fearless as a K. Rd drag diva and he's totally the best thing on TV One's daily Good Morning programme. As a card carrying homo in a high-profile presenter role on New Zealand's most unadventurous TV channel Gray brings a strong and positive glbt sensibility into the living rooms of the nation.

MATT and MAHINARANGI
Although they may never have known each other, we pair them here because gay GP/leatherman Matt Wildbore and lesbian mental health worker/songstress Mahinarangi Tocker were both compassionate, caring and warm people who enlightened the lives of their fellow glbt folk, both personally and professionally, and both died this year far, far too young.

GRANT ROBERTSON
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Grant Robertson
On election night Wellington Central's new gay MP gave glbt people our prime quote of the political cycle, by calling out to his supportive male partner "Stand up honey" live on national TV. For years one of Labour's most respected, powerful and successful backroom operators, Robertson has now stepped out of the 'smoke filled rooms' and into the public spotlight, arm in arm with his 'honey' and carrying a commitment to social equity for all New Zealanders.


SCOTTY and MAL VAUGHAN-KENNEDY
Like Cher, Ol' Man River and the Energiser bunny, this pair just keep on keeping on, ensuring Wellingtonians have somewhere to sup and socialise. When the Capital's glbt nightlife almost flat-lined last year, Scotty and Mal, who have been the scene's mainstay off and on for most of the past two decades, provided the small but perfect S&M Bar, a glittering bijou treat which got us through the dark times.



Honourable mentions:

KEVIN HAGUE MP.
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Kevin Hague
Stepping away from the security of the public health service to enter the fickle world of politics, Hague will bring to the House a unique mix of environmental passion and casually overt homosexuality. Don't make the mistake of dismissing this man as a "save the lesbian whales" pseud, he's got real smarts when it comes to working the corridors of power.


LIONEL VONGUE
It's no secret that the Hero Trust is struggling to remain viable, yet the nearly invisible Lionel Vongue has remained in the background beavering away helping paper over the cracks, pull together the programme, hustle up the artwork, get the programme to the printers. An unsung Hero.

BIG GIRLS BLOUSE PRODUCTIONS and PINK HEALTH OTAUTAHI
Working on a shoestring budget, pooling professional and amateur talent and drawing on the richly coloured memories of those in the Christchurch glbt community who 'were there through it all' this team produced a quirky but magnificent video portrait of what it was like to be glbt during the past five decades of social, sexual and legal transformation. In doing so Through Rainbow Coloured Glasses illuminated the lives of similar folk thoughout New Zealand.

WAYNE CLARK
Hats off to Auckland's veteran gay venue operator for hoisting the nation's most visible rainbow flag high over Karangahape Road, where it proudly proclaims to all that the oft-maligned entertainment and shopping street is the thriving centre of New Zealand's gayest city.

CINDY FROM SAMOA
For years, from Beach Road, Apia to K. Rd, Auckland, she was our favourite fa'faafine entertainer, doing a better Tina Turner than anyone on the planet (except Tina herself - perhaps). Then she unabashedly popped up on Stars in their Eyes, presenting her act to mainstream New Zealand - and did us proud.


Tomorrow GayNZ.com will announce those who belong to the dark side of our annual glbt New Year's Honours listings... and then there are a few we're not actually sure about!

 
GayNZ.com staff - 1st January 2009