Mak­ing his­tory in South Africa

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - FRONT PAGE - RICKY DEVINE WHITE

There have been some mon­u­men­tal LGBTQI+ lead­ers and events in his­tory that have paved a way for not just gay rights but hu­man rights too.

We must con­sider that LGBTQI+ rights are not just rights for the gay com­mu­nity but are, in sim­ple fact, hu­man rights. Af­ter all, we are the same peo­ple.

I have al­ways been an ad­vo­cate for hon­our­ing the past in or­der to cel­e­brate the fu­ture, just as we have days to re­mem­ber wars or bat­tles and pub­lic hol­i­days.

It is a good day to ac­knowl­edge some of those events/peo­ple who par­tic­i­pated and con­tinue to do so for the equal rights of ev­ery­one.

First and fore­most, the Stonewall ri­ots. On June 28, 1969, the New York City Po­lice raided a gay bar called the Stonewall Inn lo­cated in Green­wich Vil­lage, New York City.

The raid sparked a riot among bar pa­trons and neigh­bour­ing res­i­dences as the po­lice hauled em­ploy­ees and pa­trons out of the bar.

The riot lasted six days, it in­volved protests and vi­o­lent clashes with the po­lice out­side the bar on Christo­pher St and the sur­round­ing neigh­bour­hoods. The Stonewall riot was not just the cat­a­lyst for gay rights move­ments in the US but also around the world.

Har­vey Milk was one of the lead­ing po­lit­i­cal ac­tivists of the 1970s for the gay com­mu­nity. He won a seat on the New York City Board of Su­per­vi­sors in 1977 and was elected as the first openly gay of­fi­cial.

Milk spear­headed one the strong­est anti-dis­crim­i­na­tion mea­sures that was to ban dis­crim­i­na­tion in em­ploy­ment, hous­ing and pub­lic ac­com­mo­da­tions based on sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion.

He is well known for his ‘Hope’ speech in which he spoke about equal rights, not just for LGBTQI+ but for all other mi­nori­ties in­clud­ing race, age and dis­abil­ity.

In 1986, Dame Fran Wilde, a Cabi­net Min­is­ter in the Labour gov­ern­ment, stood in front of Par­lia­ment and de­liv­ered her pri­vate mem­bers bill for the ho­mo­sex­ual law re­form. I have lis­tened to the full pro­ceed­ings of that pre­sen­ta­tion and was not sur­prised, based on those times, that the bill was met with fierce op­po­si­tion.

We have to re­mem­ber that prior to 1986 it was il­le­gal for a man and another man to have sex­ual re­la­tions. Peo­ple were beaten, abused, and made to feel ashamed and alone because of their sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion.

Many were given crim­i­nal con­vic­tions purely based on be­ing gay. This law change in­spired a for­ward-think­ing New Zealand that would be­gin to lead the world on many LGBTQI+ is­sues.

Lastly, of im­por­tant note (because there are too many to list them all), are the ef­forts of Louisa Hall.

In May 2013, Hall placed her Mar­riage (Def­i­ni­tion of Mar­riage) Amend­ment Bill in to the bal­lot. And on May 19 it be­came of­fi­cial that same-sex cou­ples could legally marry in New Zealand.

New Zealand was the first coun­try in Ocea­nia and the 13th na­tion over­all to le­galise same­sex mar­riage be­hind eight other western Euro­pean na­tions, Canada, parts of the United States and Mex­ico, Ar­gentina (south) and also in South Africa. The Nether­lands was the first coun­try to le­galise same-sex mar­riage in De­cem­ber 2000.

With all of that in mind, I pre­pare for the Mr Gay World com­pe­ti­tion where I too get to make a stamp on the his­tory books and com­pete as a del­e­gate on be­half of New Zealand. Ev­ery event through­out my per­sonal life has led to this event.

I carry not just the ef­forts of those that have stood up be­fore me but also hope to cre­ate an easier road for those af­ter me.

This week has been fo­cused on cre­at­ing a ‘na­tional cos­tume’ that rep­re­sents some tra­di­tion, emo­tion, and em­bod­ies the spirit I want to carry onto the world stage.

I have sud­denly be­come a master at sewing, hot glue guns and feath­ers, per­haps this is also a rite of pas­sage. With seven days to leav­ing day, it is still a work in progress but we are al­most finished.

Mr Gay NZ Ricky Devine White pre­pares his na­tional cos­tume as he gets ready for Mr Gay World in South Africa.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.