When gay was not necessarily happy

Post date: Jul 03, 2016 9:43:13 AM

Today at church there was an incredible service marking the 30th anniversary of the passing of the Act. Included in the service was a choir called The Glamaphones - a gay choir who are very good. The same choir had a concert at Pataka in Porirua this afternoon and we went to that as well. It included a specially commissioned piece written by 2 NZ poets and Gareth Farr the composer. Intense.

Mark was 3 and Adrian just 2 (Act signed by Governor General and bought into force on 8 August 1986) and Maria not yet born. People your age and younger cannot remember when gay was the equivalent of a swear word; when people were imprisoned for love. For that I am truly thankful.

I have never had to worry about hiding who I am or had to pretend that Tony was my friend rather than my partner and soul mate. The 1986 law and subsequent Acts such as Human Rights Act 1993 right through to more recent Marriage Equality Act have affected my life not at all. But these important pieces of human rights legislation have changed the lives of people I care about.

Today we have marked the 30th anniversary of the passing of the Homosexual Law Reform Act - the law that stopped sex between men being illegal. At that stage we were living in Hokitika - it was the month before we moved to Seddon. We don't remember this being a huge issue in Hokitika. Putting it into context - this was early in the AIDS epidemic. Rock Hudson, Hollywood sex symbol, died of AIDS in 1985 and that was the first time people had heard he was gay. In Australia the Hawke government was the first of the Western governments that introduced safe sex education programmes and demonstrated a lower rate of HIV infection compared with other countries.

In the late 1980s when I started working in sexuality education- still at the time of AIDS so called epidemic- I was profoundly affected by the experiences I heard from gay people who had tortuous journeys - both of self discovery and frequently involved being shunned by family/friends/church/colleagues etc etc. One of the messages that really struck home was the consistent message was they had never heard anyone ever say it was possible to have a same sex partner. As my children you were never going to say that - but perhaps I went too far.