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Saturday 10 October 2009

Meet Toni Reid, Rainbow Youth's new Chairperson

Posted in: Hall of Fame
By Matt Akersten - 30th June 2009

Rainbow Youth's Chairperson Toni Reid
Aucklander Toni Reid was 16 when Rainbow Youth brought their health workshops to her school. Eight years later, she's the LGBT youth organisation's Chairperson during its exciting 20th anniversary.

She's been a busy member of Rainbow Youth's Executive Board for several years now, at a time when the organisation's work has never been stronger and more in the spotlight.

We asked Toni a little about herself as she enters our Hall of Fame… Congrats on becoming Rainbow Youth's new Chairperson! How does it feel to take on the role?

Toni Reid: Thanks! It is an exciting time for Rainbow Youth and a great privilege to be leading the organisation into our 20th year of operation. I've got some big shoes to fill in this role and I'm chomping at the bit to get cracking! I'm really stoked to be working alongside a great team of people this year.

How and when did you first discover Rainbow Youth?

Back in 2001 Rainbow Youth came down to my high school and facilitated a series of health workshops for my form. Back then I had a lot of internalized homophobia and the workshop run by RY really challenged my personal beliefs about my identity… things kind of grew from there. It wasn't until a few years later when I was 18 I started attending some of the groups, a few years later I was facilitating groups then was first voted on to the board. I've certainly come through the ranks as it were!

Tell us about the past year at Rainbow Youth. How have you been involved?

Rainbow Youth's 2009-10 Executive Board
It has been a HUGE year for us; we've been the benefactors of some tremendously generous public support. The major one people know about is Dancing with the Stars (and the FABULOUS Tamati!) and the event which screened the final (hosted at the Langham Hotel). There's been lots of projects I've been involved with including: the review of the website and re-writing of content, being part of the committees that are organizing the 20th Celebration event(s) and our Anti-Homophobia billboard campaign… Rattling buckets outside Naval and Family during Steven Oates' Straight Acting competition and at the glamorous Wig-O-Rama. Spreading the RY goodness at the Big Gay Out and the Grey Lynn festival… I've even been known to write the odd funding application and piece of policy!

What do you do for a job during the week?

I am an Occupational Therapist. My job pretty much is to enable people to participate in the activities of everyday life and support recovery from mental illness. I'd like to eventually go back to university and complete my masters.

What's your background, and where did you grew up?

I grew up by the beach in Torbay on the North Shore. I remained living on the Shore until October last year when my partner and I decided to rent city-side.

What do you think are the most pressing issues currently facing the NZ's LGBT community?

1] Homophobia in schools

2] Mental ill health of our young people that has occurred due to their experiences of homophobia and bullying at school.

3] Decrease in the availability of funding for community services like Rainbow Youth.

What's your worst habit?

Checking Twitter, Facebook and the forums on my phone when I should be doing other things…

Your favourite music at the moment?

At the mo it'd be: Incubus, Massive Attack, The Ting Tings and I'm kind of getting back into 90s rock with Radiohead, Janes Addiction, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam.

Your favourite movies?

A Scanner Darkly, Trainspotting, Fight Club and But I'm a Cheerleader.

Your favourite TV programmes?

I'm a sucker for the Simpsons and Family guy. Oh and Shorty Street and Bones.

Your favourite websites?

Ironically, I'm on at least twice a day!

I'm lovin' the new Rainbow Youth website it looks mean!

Men who look like old lesbians makes me laugh. always brings a smile to my face too!!

I also enjoy searching through, one day I'll sign myself up to something!

What's coming up in the near future for you?

Planning for the 20th anniversary celebration events, and lots and lots of meetings!

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Matt Akersten - 30th June 2009