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Thursday 10 November 2016

In response to Peter Wells

Posted in: True Stories
By Geoffrey Marshall - 31st May 2016

I read Peter Wells' piece on his memories of pre-law reform days with great interest but without recognising my own experience. Peter and I are a similar age and were both in Auckland in the early seventies but my dominant memory of that time is not of anger but defiance and assertiveness.

The late sixties and early seventies were a time of social ferment and change. We marched against the atomic bomb and the war in Vietnam, we wanted women’s liberation and sexual freedom, we thought we could live communally, without conflict, we wanted change. But we didn’t get angry, we just did it, as best we could. We defied convention and asserted our new ideals.

At 18, when reading the Kinsey report, I had discovered the notion of bi-sexuality and had at last understood the disturbing murmurings occurring in the background of my life. Unworried at first, it was only a minor interest after all, as the feelings grew and became insistent I knew I needed to publicly acknowledge who I was. Despite being a person with a huge need to be liked, pride and self-respect would not allow me to live a lie.

I believe that most of those who marched down Queen St claiming gay rights in the early seventies, were, like me, not angry but defiant, asserting who they were. Just as most of those who came out to friends and family were not angry, but simply claiming the right, the need, to be recognised and accepted for who they truely were.

I do not agree with Peter that it was only a fear of AIDS that enabled the passing of the Homosexual Law Reform Bill. It may have given some politicians the impetus to act but without the thousands of people who had bravely come out to their communities, who had shown society that homosexuality was everywhere, among people they loved and respected, the politicians would not have acted for fear of being tossed from office at the next election.

I write not to condemn the anger, although I think it a very limiting and often self-destructive weapon, but to acknowledge the importance of all those who simply stood up for who they were.And also to those still fighting for acceptance. Don’t waste your time and energy getting angry, put it all into being who you need to be, defiantly, assertively.

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Geoffrey Marshall - 31st May 2016