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Saturday 11 April 2015

Editorial: Grant Robertson's gay. Get over it.

Posted in: Features
By Jacqui Stanford - 30th September 2014

Cue the music, dim the lights, here we go again with another round of the popular game show “Is New Zealand Ready for a Gay Prime Minister!”

It’s already begun. With Grant Robertson throwing his hat in the ring for the Labour leadership once again, the geniuses of Twitter are elbowing their mates and giggling about tweets they just sent out like ‘Robertson wants a man-date’ or ‘you wouldn’t want him behind you’.

Again we have the claims the entire population of South Auckland is homophobic. They are clearly based on fact, what with Labour losing all its seats and support there solely due to marriage equality. Oh hang on, it didn't. And the lesbian MP who led the charge on that is solidly back as South Auckland's Manurewa MP, isn’t she?

Yes, marriage equality’s had a massive impact... on the lives of same-sex couples who wanted to get hitched. As for its impact on the election results, you can read into that however you want and imply it means whatever you like. For example, Labour actually kept its South Auckland stronghold, National didn’t suffer for the utterly crucial role it had in the law passing, and the Conservatives sure aren’t swinging with glee from Parliament’s balconies!

As for insinuating every single Pacific Islander is homophobic, that’s as silly and incorrect as saying every gay person votes for Labour. We can assure you, they don’t. And don't forget, a Research New Zealand poll in 2011 actually found more support for same-sex marriage among Maori and Pasifika voters than Pakeha ones!

So, we have a few questions - and answers - of our own.

Is New Zealand ready for an openly-lesbian former rugby and netball international who led the way on marriage equality to be re-elected in her South Auckland seat? Yes.

Will New Zealand go up in flames if a Prime Minister dances on stage at the Big Gay Out, flanked by drag queens? No.

Can New Zealand cope with an ‘odd fish’ gay, Catholic, celibate Attorney General? Whatever. Nobody seems to have commented much on the issue.

Here are a few things that are probably as relevant to Grant Robertson's leadership abilities as who he goes home to after work.

He’s from Dunedin.
He worked part-time at a supermarket.
His father spent 15 months in prison.
He grew up Presbyterian.
He loves rugby.
He loves a lot of sports actually.
He loves beer.
He is a bit of a music nerd.
One of his favourite bands is, ironically, The National.
He loves art.
He is a step-grandparent.
He wears glasses.

As for whether his sexuality has anything to do with it all, here’s the answer Robertson himself once gave the Listener:

“That’s one of the things that irritates me the most. How can you say that? That someone won’t understand New Zealanders because they’re gay. I understand all sorts of things about being a New Zealander. I understand what happens when your dad goes to prison. I understand what it’s like when the All Blacks lose. You know? I understand what it’s like when you’re trying to work out if you’ve got enough money to do [renovation] to the house? It’s bullshit.”

So can we get over it and let the Labourites focus on who is the best person to lead their party in its time of almighty slump, whether they are straight or gay, tall or short, male or female, wear glasses or not, or prefer union to league?

Final word goes to Gandalf:


- Jacqui Stanford

Jacqui Stanford - 30th September 2014

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