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Saturday 08 April 2017

Same Same: Difficult family relationships

Posted in: Books
By Justine Sachs - 23rd February 2017

The Same Same but Different festival inspired an avalanche of emotion in me. I wasn’t able to attend all the Same Same events but the ones I did left me reeling.

Author Philip Patston

It isn’t enough to say that I was impressed by the calibre of LGBT writing talent on display - I was in awe. The highlight for me was definitely the gala event They fuck you up your mum and dad, featuring the impressive oratory and literary talents of Paula Boock, Gina Cole, Benjamin Law, Courtney Sina Meredith, Sam Orchard, Philip Patston, Ngahuia Te Awekotuku and Peter Wells.

A family-themed night at an LGBTI writers festival was always guaranteed to bring forth a well of emotion in both audience and speakers. Certainly, as the title of the event suggests, LGBTI people are far more likely to experience a strained and complicated relationship with their parents as a result of their gender or sexual orientation. I was pleasantly surprised to feel uplifted rather than depressed afterwards; the stories presented were heartbreaking at times but more heartwarming. It disrupted my own assumption that most LGBTI people of a certain age have relationships with their parents that are complicated at best and estranged at worst.

The evening began on a positive and sweet note, with Paula Boock recounting the delightfully bittersweet story of her parents. This story set the tone for the night - while there were darker moments overall, what came across was the immense love between children and their parents, and the way that love ultimately overcomes the rest.

There was a somewhat tense moment during Ngahuia Te Awekotuku’s talk when she spoke out against the outspoken and vulgar racism of Philip Larkin, the poet whose writing served as the inspiration behind the night's topic. It is always difficult to initiate conversations about race and racism, but Te Awekotuku did so with poise. Hopefully, she inspired the organisers and audience to self-reflect and be more critical of the art they consume and celebrate.

The hour and a half flew by, and when the talk was over I honestly felt sad wanting to hear more.

The Same Same but Different Festival is something definitely worth making part of your busy Pride month event itinerary.

Justine Sachs - 23rd February 2017

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