|Jennifer Josef, ILGA-ASIA|
|Jennifer Josef, ILGA-ASIA|
Wellington's Queer Avengers explains that while Queer the Night is over for another year, the group has plenty more up its sleeve.
Banners have been folded, glitter washed off our faces and pink shirts been laundered. The Queer Avengers’ flagship event, Queer the Night, is over for now.
Whilst true victory will be when there is no need to protest any more, we’re considering Queer the Night 2012 a resounding success in calling attention to critical issues of bullying and youth suicide. It concludes almost a year since The Queer Avengers emerged out of the 2011 Queer the Night march, organised in response to a number of disturbing incidences of street violence aimed at our community. But whilst Queer the Night may bring the most headlines and the most noise, we’ve been up to a lot more and we have even more planned.
We made the international news earlier this year when we glitter-bombed notorious transphobe and so-called ‘feminist’ writer Germaine Greer and we organised a short notice - and rather noisy - protest at the Dominion Post headquarters in protest at a bigoted column about trans* parents. The ability to mobilise when necessary, including at short notice, is one of our strengths, and we’ll keep doing it as long as we need to.
What do we do that doesn’t make the media? Our weekly meetings are the backbone of our organisation. We meet in central Wellington every Thursday night to discuss actions, ideas and plans. Most of us stick around after the meeting for snacks and conversation - whilst we are not a social or support group, we pride ourselves on a sociable and friendly environment; I’m not alone in having met close friends through Queer Avengers.
￼Our monthly discussion group meetings are an opportunity to talk about issues that come up in meetings in a little more depth, as well as to swap books and DVDs we’ve enjoyed with other members. Topics so far this year have included homosexual law reform in New Zealand, with input from members who played an active role in that struggle, whether we should be fighting for same-sex marriage rights or the abolition of marriage and the distinctions between gender identity and sex.
In recent months, we have also facilitated the organisation of a meeting amongst members of the trans* community to discuss access to healthcare, and organised a workshop in conjunction with the local community law centre on legal rights when protesting - a workshop we opened up to the wider activist community. We also organise occasional social events, including an end-of-year party to see out 2011.
What does the next year hold for us? We’ve got a few ideas, including a regular blog, a weekend of workshops on gender diversity, the continuation of the Queer our Schools campaign, some attention to queer friendly services for the elderly, and we wouldn’t be at all surprised if there was another Queer the Night march in there as well. We’re planning to explore more ways to allow those who can’t attend meetings to participate more fully and we’d love to see allied groups emerge in other cities.
Mostly, though, our direction will be determined by our members and the needs of our communities. So if you’re keen to get involved, come along to a meeting, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to our mailing list or check out our website. Let’s queer the whole year!