BY AZARIA HOWELL
Realising your sexuality or gender identity can be tough if you think there’s no one on the red carpet or the big screen like you. But the truth is, New Zealand is full of LGBT+ role models to look up to and be inspired by. Here’s just a few.
From the past to the present, New Zealand politics provides plenty of diverse people for us to consider as role-models and changemakers. We live in a country of firsts, we were the first country to give women the right to vote and elected the first transgender Member of Parliament (Georgina Beyer) and an openly lesbian MP (Maryan Street). Georgina Beyer, the world’s first openly transgender mayor and then MP, has then gone on to write a book about her experiences, as well as speak to the Oxford and Cambridge Union in the UK about the importance of treating minorities with respect. Maryan Street is known as the first openly lesbian MP in New Zealand and globally, where she focused her parliamentary work on social issues, and eventually served as the Minister of Housing and ACC. She now campaigns in support of voluntary euthanasia and has presented petitions to parliament regarding her community work.
Current LGBT+ politicians are people to look up to as well. The current Minister of Finance, Grant Robertson, identifies as gay and is in one of the top positions in the government. He works on the important yearly government budget, as well as serving as the current MP for Wellington Central.
Former media personality Tamati Coffey has served as an MP since 2017 and has recently announced that he will be having a child with his partner Tim Smith. He is the current MP for Waiariki and is unapologetically proud of his sexuality, as is his colleague Louisa Wall, former sports star, who is now an MP. She was the MP to introduce the historical Definition of Marriage Amendment Bill which legalised same-sex marriage in New Zealand. Her actions helped make New Zealand the 13th country in the world at the time to legalise same-sex marriage. Other politicians in the New Zealand Parliament such as Jan Logie, Kiri Allan, and Chloe Swarbrick are out and proud about who they are and are doing their best work to improve the community. If politics or community work is something that interests you, let these people inspire you to be proud of yourself and dream big.
The New Zealand art scene is a diverse one, with media personalities, music artists, and performers all being proud of their identities. Anika Moa has been in the news recently due to having her second baby with her partner Natasha Utting. When she has the time, she works as a solo music artist, with her work topping the New Zealand charts countless times. The wāhine toa is open and proud of who she is in terms of her culture and sexuality, and says to people who disagree with her, “if you don’t like it, f*** off.” Moa has been recognised as someone who is proud of her identity – she openly displays traditional māori tattoos and featured in a video campaign in favour of same-sex marriage in 2012.
The winner of the new TV series House of Drag NZ, George Fowler, known on stage as Hugo Grrrl, is excelling in arts, comedy, and performance, and is also openly transgender. He says that performing gives him confidence, and hopes that his work inspires people to try drag or watch drag performances. He regularly performs across New Zealand in comedy and drag shows.
Another inspiration is someone you may have seen on your TV at home Mike Puru. Puru has hosted a radio station on The Edge, as well as YesShop, The Bachelor, and The Cafe, and is well known in New Zealand media. In an interview, Puru said coming out as gay was the “greatest thing he ever did”. Coming from Gore, he said it was tough accepting himself, but now Puru is seen as a role model by rural and small-town New Zealanders as he made it to the big screen.
In journalism in New Zealand, David Farrier is also seen by many as an inspiration. The filmmaker has worked on a Netflix series as well as his own internationally-recognised documentary. He has worked on pieces for 3 News, now known as Newshub, as well as working on various freelance projects. Farrier came out as bisexual during the same-sex marriage debate in parliament back in 2012. Other LGBT+ people excelling in the arts in New Zealand include actress and comedian Madeleine Sami, Anna Paquin, Peter Wells, and famous Youtuber Jamie Curry.
Science and community
Helping to fight the global AIDS crisis, Charles Farthing was an openly gay scientist from Christchurch who excelled in the medical field. He has worked all over the world from New Zealand to the UK to Saudi Arabia and helped governments across the globe deal with the AIDS crisis by chairing a committee on the issue and conducting comprehensive medical research. His work led him to success and international recognition.
Out and Proud is a series of LGBT+ articles written by TEARAWAY writer Azaria Howell in order to help young LGBT+ people feel safe and confident in their identity. These articles are published with the support of RainbowYOUTH, find them online at ry.org.nz for more information.
AZARIA HOWELL is a huge politics nerd living in Christchurch. Expect lots of new political articles on Tearaway from her! She also loves snowboarding, Beagles, and wearing clunky boots.
Keen for more? Check out Azaria’s work:
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