Fresh back from the Outgames. Fourteen hundred people from 23 countries attended the Outgames, but only about 300 were at the parallel Human Rights Conference.
The only sport I saw was some of the DanceSports, where, I’m pleased to say, many Aussie women won medals of various hues. Mind you, the competition only ended at 1am, so I was absent from the medal presentations.
One thing I did notice, however, was that Julie, an Aussie woman who won the gold in the 70-79 year-old triathlon(!), also featured on the dancefloor.
The day before, I’d been mesmerised by her legs, which looked like tree trunks, but she was certainly light on her feet when dancing. Go grrl!First thing: open Conference pack (presented in a nifty black bag with a wonderful stylised rainbow-coloured unfolding fern frond).
One of the most impressive contents was a letter featuring the coat-of-arms of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (which has a queen!), stating that the Kingdom did not support heterosexist discrimination in any way.
To emphasise its point, the Kingdom had sponsored scholarships for people from the Pacific area to attend.
It was pointed out, in a plenary, that the Western notion of GLBTI is inadequate to represent the ‘cultural identity’ of ‘third gender’ people from the Pacific. If one wants to be truly inclusive of Pacific peoples, it was suggested, the letters GLBTI-MVP-FAFF should be used. Please don’t ask me what every one of the letters represents: I’ll take their word on it.
The Opening Ceremony took the shape of an impressive formal Maori welcome at the marae (meeting place) at Te Papa Tongarewa (the National Museum), which was covered with traditional woodcarvings.
We had to wait for the karanga to call us on to the marae. Our hosts sat on the left and we guests on the right. Greetings were given and the whakapapa recited, after which a Maori elder responded on our behalf.
There were speeches by the (female) Mayor of Wellington, the Netherlands Ambassador, the lesbian Mayor of the Kapiti Coast and others.
There were at least 17 presentations on trans, takatapui, fa’afafine and intersex issues; a strong representation of Out At Work activists and anti-discrimination in schools issues; powerful presentations (including the Magical History Tour) regarding 50 years of activism on homosexual law reform in NZ; and 10 lesbian presentations on topics including ageing, honouring our ‘ancestry’, ‘settling’ for civil unions, refugees, and lesbian media.
By Barbary Clarke is convenor of the VGLRL’s Policy Working Group.