Queer and Here is a six-part video series showing the many faces of Aotearoa's rainbow community, supported by NZ On Air. You can watch the short version here and the full episode on Māori Television on Thursday nights. In episode two, director Ramon Te Wake introduces the Pride Festival.
When Pride season hits Aotearoa for a month during February you can guarantee it's going to be full of LGBTIQ+ expression, empowerment and, of course, protest. And even though protest has gone through many ebbs and flows during the past 50 years one thing is for certain, there will always be activists on the front line fighting for change, equality and the rights of all LGBTIQ+ people within the community. A lot of these change agents are rangatahi and a lot of the focus will undoubtedly fall on the more marginalised groups of the community.
As Ngahuia Te Awekotuku, one of the pioneers of the first gay liberation in 1972, once said, "we must never be complacent when it comes to legislation" and boy, she wasn't kidding. No matter how many wins we seem to have collected along the way, we still find ourselves fighting for change and progress at grass roots and government level - more specifically with the trans, non-binary and intersex communities.
Aniwa is fresh blood to it all. When he started his Queer & Here journey he hadn't experienced much of what the Takataapui community had to offer. That included the Pride Festival month. It was his first time going to the Big Gay Out, the Pride March and the historic Rainbow Parade, which sings and dances down Ponsonby Rd.
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First up was the Pride March and to help Aniwa prepare for his big debut he got schooled by incredible modern-day advocates who helped shed light on the whakapapa of queer activism in Aotearoa.
Activist Shaneel Lal was instrumental in the passing the bill banning conversion therapy. A major milestone for the LGBTIQ+ community. Takataapui activist, sport legend and former Labour MP, Louisa Wall, gives Aniwa some insight into why we march and why we must continue to use our voices for change.
Aniwa meets Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick who reminds us all about the power of finding your people and when you do it becomes less "terrifying to engage in the idea of change".
But perhaps, one of the most impactful stories of the episode was when Aniwa meets intersex pioneer and advocate, Mani Bruce Mitchell. They educate us all on what it means to be intersex, why we must understand our history and the importance of giving space to our rangatahi to thrive and strive.
This is an episode that puts the spotlight on why we march and why we must continue to use our visibility and voice for change.