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The Gay Blade

19th December 2008

What Comes Before a Fall?

Posted by: Michael Stevens

There’s a an episode of The Simpsons when a Gay Pride parade goes by and the marchers chant “We’re here, we’re queer! Get used to it!” and Lisa shouts back “We are used to it! You do this every year!”

The entire “Pride” concept is simply dated - it’s too last century, too 80s, too pre Law Reform.  The choice of this name for the replacement committee for Hero really makes me wonder what they think they are doing. If the Hero brand is now poison, as it seems to be, then just what makes anyone think that “Pride” is going to be all fresh and new?

“Pride” was never a big movement in Auckland in the past - there used to be those sad little “coming out” marches down Ponsonby Rd in the 90s - and really, could you find anywhere less offensive to gay pride than Ponsonby Rd? The Pride Centre - a debacle, and also a concept rooted in the politics of 30 years ago.

Have you seen the logo ? It is simply embarrassing. It’s tired, cliched, yawningly unoriginal and dull. Which is most likely what this so-called “Pride” thingamy will be unless they can get some interesting young minds involved (Try the SOHOMO crowd). If not, we will be stuck with the suburban bedint excitement of Mt Albert matrons singing along to Bucks Fizz and thinking it’s the height of gay sophistication.

Pride is nice, Pride is inoffensive, Pride is normal, Pride is suburban, boring, and dated.

Heroic Gardens was going on anyway. So was the BGO, even if it’s on a stupid day this year due to a cockup with dates. There hasn’t been a decent Hero Party since the one in the Town Hall, and that was years ago, so I don’t think anyone really had hopes around that. Other events would have happened. So what is the purpose of the Pride committee? It’s hard to make out.

Auckland is the biggest, most sophisticated city in the country, with by far the biggest gay population. We have a wealth of interesting, diverse, creative and intelligent people in our midst. They don’t appear to be on the committee though. And I’ve already heard a few of them express their unease over this whole concept. Let’s hope they can be encouraged to join in and make this actually happen, not leave us with an tired, flacid nothing.

Me - I’m thinking of throwing a “Humiliation” party .

Tags: General

7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Antony Reed // Dec 21, 2008 at 11:06 am

    Far be it from me to get involved at all in Auckland internal politics, but I feel this article makes many assumptions which I would wish to dispute.
    1) Since when is getting out there and actually doing something “so 80s”? A healthy reminder is needed that Law Reform was not the end of the process! Our communities in the US, stung by the passing of Prop 8 in California, have responded by returning to the streets and demonstrating their anger that discrimination continues in this way. We could certainly learn from them, especially as we no longer have a government even remotely likely to give us much we don’t fight for.
    2) I wonder why all these wonderful creative people are not on the committee? Is it because the usual people (probably tired and busy people fed up with being slagged off all the time) have volunteered. I expect they would love all these innovative types brimming with ideas to get involved. However, this rarely happens, and it seems to me that just the sort of people with the best resources to help are those which simply stay at home and look after themselves. Let us hope I am proved wrong, but if that happens a major trend will be reversed!
    Best wishes to the Pride Committee. You are out there giving your time and energy to help our communities, and as usual you not only get no thanks, you get slagged off by people who stand by and whinge. I know what it feels like.

  • 2 Richard Howard // Dec 21, 2008 at 11:30 pm

    We live in a false idea of the world if we think that our place as homos is now (in 2008) permanently secured in the world and that pride in our life style choice and position is available and shared by all.

    Several nights on the Outline counselling line will smartly smack you in the face with the flacid wet fish of reality!! Hmmm I can’t fail to be impressed by that little burst of acquatic creativity.

    Its still all outthere. Ignorance, misconception. homophobia, confusion, violence, emotional abuse , abandonment, drug and alcohol issues, mental, emotional issues. fear of coming out, and internalised homophobia.

    Check the papers for frequent reports of bashings, murders, gay bullying, child abuse, negative debates on all topics gay and religious pressures.

    The point is that the negative beliefs, values and forces are still definitely out there; and much more for some than others.

    The work to maintain and expand homo expression and space is far from over within New Zealand and around the planet. There are in fact still many life and health issues to be faced and dealt with among the homo population and much more “pride” to be worked for within and beyond the tiny, twilight world of the Ponsonby/ Krd homosexual.

    The position of any group of people in a mad media driven world relies on what those people choose to do and how they choose to protraty themselves publically.

    If Hero and Pride and other media activities seem too 80″s at this stage in our evolution then this may be driven by cynicism or disconnection from the broad reality or even just life fatigue.

    Reorganise, revitalise, recreate with imagination but don’t lose the plot.

    The work is not over. Individually and collectively homos have great things to say and offer out in the world; and we need to keep our presence, needs and demands firmly on the agenda in the public space

    Don’t bitch…get creative.

    Best to you all.

  • 3 Neal Barber // Dec 22, 2008 at 11:21 am

    Despite the rather negative reactions, I think Michael has a point here. Or at least he is on the right track. I have previously helped organise Pride Week in Dunedin and am about to start planning on next year’s event. In Dunedin at least, Pride events are generally under-supported. We are not quite sure what the reasons for this phenomena are: are people just too busy, do we have too much community ill-feeling, or is there no community spirit. What ever the reasons, we need to find out what they are so we can adapt to provide events people want.

    Here’s the crunch: Pride events take money to stage. If people don’t want to support them then there will be no future funding - since it is obvious there is no need for them. Whilst there is still a need for public awareness we must remember what Pride was set up to do: it was a graphic display of sexual identity in the hope of gaining human rights. Whilst it has now become more of a celebration can we even say we have a sexual identity?

    Perhaps the problem is that Pride is predicated on an outdated identity politics which the younger generation may not understand; a lot of water has passed under the bridge.

    Instead of simply repeating a tradition, we need to critically interrogate that tradition and see how it fits in a new fast-evolving world. This critical thinking takes detachment but we also need to respect our heritage. What we need now is time to stop and think.

  • 4 Josh Preston // Dec 23, 2008 at 10:23 am

    Well it seems a good a time as any to announce here that after months of trying to get something rolling with first Hero then Pride I threw up my hands in despair and aligned myself with Sohomo and the AK09 Fringe to present a gay and lesbian performance event at Galatos just off K Road on Saturday 28th February. Calling a spade a spade it’s named HomoFringe. We’re featuring a bunch of bands with out queer members; Prince Diana, Curfew Girls and Charlie ASH, plus a surfeit of live performance art; surprise shows and video-based art as well as a bunch of great local DJ’s. We’re keeping it low cost ($15) and generally keeping it real; we’re looking forward to a fun night!!

    On the subject of Pride….I spent 9 years living in Sydney; the first six in Slurry Hills and Darling-it-hurts avoiding the Arq/Shift/Stonewall axis of lame shirtless GBH clones and holing up with the kids from Kooky, Phoenix and The Barracks for my gay playtime. I used to write a column in NZ’s OUT! “magazine” detailing my off the wall adventures in Sin City which I will one day archive online…

    Sydney more than anywhere else had to battle the redundancy of the Pride movement; with Mardi Gras being an event on the national public calendar, regularly screened on network TV, documented in all the media, hailed as a cash cow worth over $1 million by the NSW government. By its 20th anniversary in 1999 MG had become less of a protest movement and more of a solidarity event for the those who had survived the excesses of the late 80’s/90’s and the ravages of HIV on the community - (each week would see double page spreads of obituaries in the gay press). By 2002 Mardi Gras had fallen flat on its face only to be bought out by able pocketed businessmen of the community. Sydney also had its Pride Centre; who organised regular events as well; almost in competition with MG. There was also Homoscent, Salon Douche and ‘The Alternative Party’ which managed to cater for the darker edge of the community; with fantastic DJ’s such as Sveta, Steve Allkins, Seymour and Gemma, Ben Drayton and live performances from Trash Vaudeville, Azaria Universe, Sexy Galexy and more…

    It’s this kind of vibe I’m trying to channel for this HomoFringe event as I think its far more relevant than another shirts off diva house party. There’s no real militant queer culture apparent here as there was in Sydney. I remember posters on the street when I first got there from Homoscent - ‘Give us your children; what we don’t fuck we eat’ which always cracked me up…There does exist a lot of critical discourse on the nature of the Pride movement; not just in Sydney but on a global level; these issues have been analysed thoroughly on many online forums and in underground publications; the consensus seems to be that these big events are outdated, the idea of a Pride Party as a community aiding event has fallen by the wayside and become a magnet for the ‘pink dollar’ and another opportunity for a drug fucked romp.

    While I’m sure there will still be eyes rolling back in their sockets at the Fringe event at least its something different and hopefully inspire more people to try something outside the square.

    We’re still looking for performers and anyone who wants to get involved in any other way; you can email me here; dubtropic@gmail.com

  • 5 Cherie crawford // Dec 23, 2008 at 6:10 pm

    I think the Auckland Pride Committee does a good job. Its not that easy to put ‘your name’ to an event - whereby the success of that event is also dependent on Community backing.

    I don’t consider that pride shoud be ‘normal’ or ‘inoffensive’ ‘boring’ or ‘dated’. But, Michael raises good point of ‘community perception’ on this matter.

    Anthony further emphasised this point, ‘why do the people with the best resources stay at home?’ We have a community full of talented individuals. To those who volunteer their time, for the benefit of ‘gay community’ - we’re not that quick to praise their efforts…..but we (as community) can be quick to critige them. I think thats the factor which puts some talented individuals from volunteering their time.

    It must be (as Neil states) time to stop and re-think. Awesome work your doing Josh.

    For those who have committed their time to Pride Committee…..we should be saying, ‘well done’ and supporting their efforts.

    If Pride has become ‘normal’ ‘dated’ ‘inoffensive’, or the like. Then its easy to say, ‘what is the point, lets create something new’. But when you take that position, you lose the progression to which Pride was established on & tradition loses it Community Significance.

    When the above happens, its easy to say - ‘well the community doesn’t need to see our display of pride/or outward displays’, as we’ve achieved our ‘legal rights’ through legislative changes, to have recognition of equality. I like what anthony states, ‘purpose that law reform wasn’t just in the 80’s….geting out there and doing something’. I think with political/legal changes, its easy to think, ‘we’ve achieve our purpose’ through lobbying and political representation. But, i think we should instead ask, ‘is it enough’.

    The likes of Destiny Church wave their banners and say, ‘enough is enough’. They’re passionate about their cause. But, has Pride lost some of the passion that was clearly evident in the 80’s, before law reform.

    Should we say, ‘enough is enough’ to visibility of the pride of our community, and instead have ‘low key’ events that aren’t offensive or challenging. Or should we instead say, ‘is it enough?’ how can we do more? How can we ‘get on board and support diversity of events?’ How can we change perception, and cause more people to back Pride and volunteer their time?

    Pride Committees do fantastic job…..
    how can the community support them better?

    When the support or backing isn’t there from community, i don’t think that michel is right, ‘we may have become boring, outdated, and inoffensive’. In considering that - i think the ‘enough is enough’ lobby groups of religious right, silence the passion of a community once ‘visible’ and we reflect on Legal/Political changes and we think - ‘yes, maybe thats enough’……instead of being creative.

  • 6 MaryCherry // Dec 28, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    Auckland sophisticated?

    I must’ve been to a different Auckland.

  • 7 Shotgun Mike // Jan 12, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    I was pretty much with you all the way until you mentioned Auckland as being the most sophisticated city in New Zealand… Are you kidding me? Its a subdivided nightmare with high crime rates and disproportianately huge road maintanance costs. Wellington is by far a better city; we just don’t have as many people.

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