Wellington Outgames volunteer Jill Christie has high hopes for her home city after the 1300 athletes have packed up and headed home.
“I really hope we end up with a real gay community here in Wellington,” the 58-year-old from Breaker Bay said.
“It is really giving Wellington a gay life at the moment. To walk around and see gay people in the city being themselves makes me ecstatic.
“There’s not really a gay community here as such. People are ok for others to know they are gay, but they tend to be more conservative.
“I hope the Outgames creates a gay community here that lasts, one that brings the sexes together.”
Born in Wellington, Christie left the city as a young woman to explore London, Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney – so she knows first hand the benefits a cohesive and active gay community can bring to a city.
“That’s why I volunteered for the games,” she said. “The gay community was coming to Wellington and I didn’t want to miss out.
“I’m helping out in the (Outgames) hub, doing registrations and giving people information and directions about Wellington, answering their questions and just helping out.”
Christie moved back to Wellington 11 years ago with her partner of 10 years and their infant daughter.
The relationship collapsed six months later, but Christie stayed in Wellington to raise her now 12-year-old princess Qona.
“It is a great place to raise children – no pollution, great culture and a real community feel,” she said.
“You look at what happened in Christchurch and you see the real power of the New Zealand community – that’s the kind of thing that makes me want to stay here.”
Christie gets her ‘gay fill’ every year or two by heading to Sydney for Mardi Gras. It also gives Qona an opportunity to visit her father and co-mother.
“She’s really lucky – she has a really strong family in Sydney and a really strong family in Wellington,” Christie said.
“But her father misses her dreadfully, so it is important to visit regularly.”
When her stint as a volunteer is over Christie will go back to her part-time job with Te Aro Health, helping Wellington’s homeless.
“Volunteering is the easy party – really, the hard work is being done by the people pulling the event together,” she said. “Volunteering really has been a pure pleasure.”