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Thursday 10 November 2016


GLBTI lives: Toni Duder

Posted in: Community
By Sarah Murphy - 9th January 2016

Coming out when she was about fifteen years old - while living at an all girls boarding school - Toni Duder says while she definitely faced challenges around being outed to her parents by the head of the hostel, the experience of coming out at high school ultimately became a positive one.

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“It meant that I was unburdened, and I could be really real with people,” she says. “It strengthened my most important relationships with my close family and my friends.”

Toni became involved with the lgbti community when she began working at Rainbow Youth in 2013. “It was definitely a learning curve for me in terms of the politics of the community, as well as they amazing people who have taught me so much.”

Since she’s been involved in the community she’s noticed a need to address intergenerational attitudes. “How can we foster a reciprocal learning relationship between the generations in our community?” she asks. “I also think there’s more racism, transphobia and sexism in our community than we’d like to admit.

“The biggest barriers to acceptance - if we’re looking outward at being accepted by the mainstream society? Several of the most glaring ones are: lack of education around queer and gender diverse issues, mainstream services being under skilled in dealing with the mental, physical or general well being of queer or gender diverse patients and rural communities being under resourced and isolated from the education and support that they need around lgbtiq issues.”

Toni says allies play an important role in strengthening the work done in the lgbti communities. “We can’t exist in isolation,” she says, “so allies are important for our community - especially for our young people who need their family to be on board with their identity and journey.

“I believe we need to empower allies to begin to look at the world around them and challenge the heteronormativity and cis-sexism that exists.

“My biggest ally from day one has been my mum. I don’t know where I’d be without her,”

Toni says the young people she see’s come through Rainbow Youth are an inspiration, “Their strength and humour and passion for changing society is amazing.”

It is clear that the idea of community is an important one, “I believe it’s vital for everyone to belong to a community that they feel closest to,” she says. “It could be the rainbow community, or a community within it, or just one that you create out of the people in your life. It gives you a sense of belonging, a place to share ideas and grow together.”

Recently Toni’s been working on an archiving project about Rainbow Youth’s history. Working together with another Rainbow Youth member she has started interviewing people who began the organisation 25 years ago. “It’s been really humbling to learn where we as a community have come from. I’m proud to continue the legacy of change making.”

Looking forward, Toni hopes that a positive future for all lgbti people in New Zealand is not too far from a reality. “Productive ones that continue to push for a real fundamental shift in attitudes in our mainstream society,” she says.

This includes working to empower the rainbow pacific communities in New Zealand, and collaborating overseas when the resources allow, says Toni.
So what does the future look like for this passionate community leader and what are her future goals? “To be happy and creative and to continue to learn and grow,” she says.

“The issues closest to my heart that I’d love to work on are empowering parents of queer and gender diverse young people and working more closely with them, as well as working in more rural communities to establish more positive environments for queer and gender diverse people.”



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Sarah Murphy - 9th January 2016