Friday, November 30, 2012

WGWG Letter in Support for Marriage Equality

Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill

To the Government Administration Select Committee 

Dear Select Committee Members

This submission is made on behalf of the Wellington Gay Welfare Group. The Wellington Gay Welfare Group Inc (WGWG) is an incorporated society and registered charity. WGWG promotes the welfare of all those in the Wellington region who identify with the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex (GLBTI) communities.

We support marriage equality for all New Zealanders and we support the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill. The Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill will remove a historical discrimination that has no place in modern New Zealand. Marriage is a legal institution that should be open to all New Zealanders. Our legislation should be fair, equal and should not discriminate. We urge you to progress this Bill
to ensure that all people, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity will have the opportunity to marry if they so choose.
Marriage is an important issue for those within same-sex relationships, our families and friends but it is also an important issue for all New Zealanders. A more equal society is better for everyone.

Legislation that treats same-sex attracted New Zealanders as second-class citizens, reinforces our inequality. The impact of this inequality is very often tragic. Teenagers who are same-sex attracted have attempted suicide at rates five times higher than their heterosexual peers. These attempts relate to experiences of discrimination and marginalization. If we want to do something about this appalling statistic we need to address prejudice and discrimination. Sending a message to young people that our society treats all people equally will send this message clearly.

In a recent Colmar Brunton poll, 63 per cent of New Zealanders think same-sex couples should be able to marry. Of 18 to 34 year olds, 76% think that same-sex couples should be able to get married. The public are in strong support of this Bill, and so Members of Parliament should also support it.
Allowing same sex marriage will not affect any existing heterosexual marriages. A couple's relationship, history, and marriage cannot be undermined by another couple having their strong bond also recognised.

This Bill is about fairness and choice, not how or where people choose to marry. It will not oblige churches to marry gay couples. Some argue that the state did not invent marriage and so has no authority to re-invent it. This Bill only changes the state sanctioned definition of marriage by amending the New Zealand Parliament's Marriage Act of 1955. It does not change how other people define their relationships. Many religious communities have also expressed their support for marriage equality.

The list of countries where same sex marriage is now legal is growing; New Zealanders value equality and so should join with these other countries; Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, Spain, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina, Denmark.


In closing, we reiterate that we urge you to progress this Bill to ensure that all people, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity will have the opportunity to marry if they so choose.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Srtike Out For AIDS

Srtike Out For AIDS

Annual World AIDS Day Fundraiser
Sunday 2nd December , 7PM till Midnight
The Lanes Bowling Lounge, 234 Wakefield Street, Wellington

Tickets $20.00 - Unlimited Bowling, Spot Prizes, Give-aways

All proceeds to World AIDS Day Collection

Tickets Available from:

- Lanes Bowling Lounge
- NZAF, Awhina Centre, Level 1, 187 Willis St. Wellington
- Scotty & Mal's Cocktail & Lounge : 176 Cuba Street, Te Aro, Wellington

Red Ribbon Street Collection on November 30

Red Ribbon Street Collection

Friday, November 30th, 2012

Once again, the Awhina Centre (Wellington office of the New Zealand
AIDS Foundation) will be organising an annual street collection as part of
World AIDS Day.

Where does the money go?

World AIDS Day 2012 is a joint initiative between the NZAF, Body Positive,
Positive Women and INA.
Every dollar raised through both the street appeal and online collections
goes toward providing essential programmes and services for people living
with or affected by HIV in New Zealand.
Last year the street appeal raised more than $32,000 and this year – with
the addition of our volunteers, and the help of our
generous supporters - we’re hoping to well and truly top that.

Awhina needs you!

For quite a few years now, more money has been collected in Wellington
than any other centre and we would like this trend to continue.
If you are able to help with collecting, could you please let me know what
times you are available, how long you are able to collect for and in what
area you would like to collect.
Could you also advise if you would like to be placed with another collector.

Even if you can spare an hour or two, your help would be appreciated.

Collecting times are 7am – 3pm (The 7am start is for the early birds at the
Railway Station!).

If you are willing to help in any way, please send me your details and I will
be in touch closer to the day.

Pub Run

From 6pm – 9pm, teams of collectors go to the various hotels around Wellington.
In the past, the Pub Run has been a lot of fun.
Perhaps you will not be free to collect during the day so this is an opportunity
to help collect.

The Awhina Team look forward to hearing from you!

Don Barclay
Administration Assistant | Āwhina Centre
New Zealand AIDS Foundation  |  Te Tūāpapa Mate Āraikore o Aotearoa

p  | +64 4 381 6640
f   | +64 4 381 6641
e  | | |

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Big Thanks to Mr Gay World!

This weekend Andreas Derleth - Mr Gay NZ and Mr Gay World - hosted an Oktoberfest party in Auckland. He turned it into a fundraising event and split up the proceeds in four equal parts amongst Rainbow Youth, Gay Wellington, OutlineNZ and Nikosi's Haven. Andreas just let me know that they raised $1335.80, so Gay Wellington's share is $333.95. Isn't that great!!! Thanks Andy!

Monday, September 3, 2012

The year in review - School's Out (Annual Report - Part 5)

We estimate that there have been approximately 160 individual participants in our School’s Out Programme in 2011/2012. However this does not include class visits or assembly talks which could exceed 500.

In addition to the two part-time paid staff (working 15 hours a week each) there are nine facilitator volunteers who help manager School’s Out.

The employment of two part time staff has improved the consistency and responsiveness of the program, while keeping the positive elements of the team decision-making structure of volunteers. We have been able to do a lot more to promote, expand and improve the service thanks to the employment of Kassie and George.

We’ve had regular meetings during school terms in Wellington Central and Kapiti for the entire year, and weekly meetings in the Hutt Valley since April 2012. We have seen groups at central meetings of between 7 and 20 young people. In addition, we’ve seen a regular meeting of 8-12 people at the Hutt meetings, and a smaller group every week in Kapiti of between 3 and 7 people.

A lot of the achievements we’ve made aren’t about numbers though, they’re about making a noticeable difference to people’s lives. We’ve supported many young people on an individual level, whether through providing them with advice or someone to talk to, creating forums for discussion for queer and trans issues in their lives, and advocating for them where appropriate.

Regular discussions on topics reflect the diversity and positivity of the group. They include coming out, family, safe sex, drugs and alcohol, drag workshop, depression, self harm and suicude, gender identity, sexuality spectrum, consent and boundaries, religion, relationships.

School’s Out did a lot to promote the group including a mail out to school principals and counsellors in April and printing posters to distribute in schools.

We networked with other queer youth services across the country to share issues and give feedback and work together on common tasks and issues. In particular we were involved in the Cross Country videolink conversations that were held nationally, and participated in discussions about QSA Network Aotearoa, and we are working with Rainbow Youth to further the education programme.

In October 2011 School’s Out started an 18-25yo social group going which met fortnightly and held events in the school holidays such as a Central Park picnic and DVD days, games days, and in the Christmas/New Year period School’s Out took 16 people to Vinegar Hill to camp in the Manawatu.

Here is some direct feedback from the youth:
“Thanks for camp! It was great fun (even with the rain)”;
“It was just awesome to hangout and bond with everyone from School’s Out- I feel like we are a family now.”

We had a presence at Out in the Square early in 2012 with youth putting out flyers. Some of our youth got interviewed by One News and appeared on a segment of the news about Out in the Square.

School’s Out was invited by the Governor General, Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae and Lady Janine Mateparae, to a Waitangi Day reception at Government house.

In summary, WGWG fulfilled its intention to employ staff to take on leadership roles for School’s Out and this has greatly increased the consistency and furtherance of the program.

We have increased the quality of our training for community and school leaders and staff support as well as continuing to offer education programmes for students.

We have clearer strategies to counter homophobic bullying in the region and how to best work with schools to further this goal.

We continue to value and engage with our volunteers, managing their involvement, and staff have worked with volunteers to offer training and support that has increased the quality of the groups and the investment from individuals.

We have networked not only with queer youth organisations but have developed strong working partnerships with youth health services in the Wellington region and are engaging a wide sector of the community services network in the region.

We are particularly grateful to our financial sponsors who have made employment of our staff possible – especially the Winton & Margaret Bear Charitable Trust, the Wellington City Council, Gayline Wellington Trust, and the Lotteries Commission.

In the coming year we plan to introduce more education programs in schools, continue to build our youth groups, strengthen our presence in the regions, get more facilitators involved, re-launch our Kapiti group, link into national campaigns such as Pink Shirt Day, maintain links to youth agencies and queer networks regionally and nationally, plan a regional hui for queer youth, and generally have a lot of fun.

The year in review - Coming-Out Groups (Annual Report, Part 4)


Newcomers, the coming-out group for men aged 18 and up, had been in ‘hibernation’ since June 2010. We restarted the group again in October 2011 and have been meeting fortnightly ever since (on every second Tuesday from 6pm to 7.30pm).

Unlike previous occasions, the meetings have been held in the CBD rather than in someone’s home. However the format – where one person tells their life and coming-out story, and then the group asks questions and identifies parts of the story that they can relate to – is similar to the approach we have taken in the past.

A total of 15 men have contacted Newcomers between October 2011 and June 2012. Ages range from 18 through to 60s, with the most common being guys in their 20s and 40s.

The fortnightly meetings tend to average between 6-10 attendees. This year we also invited Newcomers to the WGWG monthly guest speaker sessions, as well as some of the WGWG social events (such as condom-packing at the Awhina Centre, as shown in this photo).

Testimonials are a good way of demonstrating how much of an impact this type of support group can have on people’s lives. Here is an example, which was published on our website in May 2012:

“Being a gay man thinking of coming out, I joined Newcomers hoping to hear about the stories of others and how they found the whole coming out process. I have always been able to relate, in some way, to the stories shared by other members of the group and have been amazed by how much some members have gone through – it really puts my own reservations about coming out into perspective. I also like the informal and ‘no drama’ nature of the meetings as well as the support and honest advice the group provides. I have been going to Newcomers for about three months now and would recommend it to anyone who is keen to give it a go.”

Lesbian Drop-In

The Lesbian Drop-In continued to meet monthly during 2011/2012 and was very well attended. Throughout the year we have had guests such as Chris from LILAC come along and inform us about the library and resources available to lesbians. Visitors from as far away as France, Canada and Mexico shared their experiences of arriving in Wellington and their settling process. We have also arranged social events such as booking in to see the Italian movie Sea Purple and having drinks afterwards. The Drop-In is a friendly, inclusive and welcoming bunch of women and we are very grateful to the funders of our group.

The year in review - Helpline (Annual Report - Part 3)

For the 12-months ending 30 June 2012 we received 146 calls and 61 callers (42%) were women. This compares to 129 calls and 40% women callers for the previous year.  We have been available for 172 days out of a possible 203 (85%). We have talked for about 37 hours, which averages to over 3 hours a month. The number of WGWG volunteers who assist with helpline are 16 members and 11 trainees (which is about 60% of total WGWG members/trainees).

Overall there has been a 13% increase in the volume of calls this year.  The proportion of women callers has grown slightly and the number of days we have been available has decreased slightly.

Most calls were 'counselling' calls or general chats. A small number of callers asked about venues or referrals to different GLBTI groups. Here are the most common types of discussion topics over the 12 months:

1. Coming out (the most common reason for calling)
2. Straight men with a same sex attraction
3. Bi-curious callers
4. Relationships / relationship break-ups / abusive partners
5. Straight parents/relatives asking for resources for family members
6. Loneliness
7. Information about the local community
8. Transgender issues
9. Immigration issues
10. Referrals to groups such as Homophones, School’s Out and Newcomers
11. Questions about HIV and oral sex
12. Straight men who had a friend come out to them.


The year in review - Co-Chair Report (Annual Report - Part 2)

We are proud to present the 2011/2012 annual report for WGWG.

This has been a year of growth for the group. Our membership has almost doubled in the last 12 months, beginning with 25 members and new volunteers, and ending with 48. We re-launched the men’s coming-out group Newcomers which has been popular with over 15 newcomers attending. School’s Out has significantly widened its reach across the Wellington region and we have taken on board new activities such as finding accommodation for homeless GLBTI youth. Services provided by Helpline increased by 13%, the Lesbian Drop-In has remained steady and only the HIV (Cuthbert) grant funding work has reduced due to a smaller number of funding requests.

Looking forward to 2012/2013, there are several changes on the horizon:

• We are considering further expansion of the School’s Out programme with an increased focus on education in schools.
• OutlineNZ has proposed that WGWG volunteers take their 0800 national calls for two nights per week from early 2013. If this occurs the local Wellington helpline is likely to close and all Wellingtonians will be encouraged to call the national 0800 number.
• We may undertake a community survey to help determine our future five-year direction as a group.
• As discussed at our strategic planning days in 2011, changes to our management structure may bring improvements to the way WGWG operates.
• We could build on the number of media statements we made this year and increase our own promotion and community interaction.

The remainder of this section of the co-chair report acknowledges our administrative progress in 2011/2012. The subsequent sections summarise the impact that WGWG initiatives have had on the GLBTI community in the Wellington region.

Volunteers join for many different reasons and ‘giving back to the community’ is often one of them. It is great to have such a wide range of experience within WGWG and much credit goes to Bill and Ted for giving their time to the initial meetings and the intake training days. Many thanks to everyone else who has made the new recruits feel welcome.

Social Activities
In recent years we’ve been more flexible than in the past and encouraged volunteers to help in areas they feel most suited to, rather than just through the helpline. This has proved to be a successful approach. We’ve also increased our social activities which include both members and people who are attending the ‘coming out’ groups. Marc and Jo have assisted with these – a visit to the Emperor’s Bathhouse, group attendance for “That’s So Gay” at Bats and a condom-packing event at the Awhina Centre. Bill and Chris have generously offered their homes for the summer BBQs.

Paid Employees
In October 2011 we formally appointed Kassie and George to the part-time paid positions of School’s Out Facilitation Co-ordinator and School’s Out Program Leader respectively. This is the first time we’ve employed two people. It has proved to be a huge success for School’s Out, as outlined in the below report. Carl’s work as their weekly supervisor with Stu has been superb and highly valued. The work Ted and Chris have done behind the scenes to organise the salaries and the tax payments is also very much appreciated.

Speaker Sessions
During 2012, members and new trainees have attended a range of monthly speaker sessions organised by Carl and Suze. Speakers have been from the transgender group Agenda, the PSA union, religious group Galaxies and the NZ Prostitutes Collective. These sessions ensure our members are aware of issues affecting the community. They are also open to the coming-out group members to help them through the coming out process.

Internet and Promohomos
Awareness of WGWG and our internet presence has also grown throughout the year thanks to a $2,000 grant from the TG McCarthy Trust which went towards our website upgrade, and a lot of effort by Alexis, Phil, Ian, Ted and the promohomos team. We started the year with 187 facebook friends and ended with 254. By June 2012 we were also receiving 660 monthly visits to our website and 571 monthly visits to our blog.

Treasurer and Funding Committee
Funding came in steadily throughout the year which has meant our planned spending and income was on track, as shown in the financial accounts. Thanks goes to Kura and the members of the funding committee, as well as to Chris for his work in the treasurer’s role and for implementing a number of improvements including a change to electronic banking.

The executive team this year has been Chris as Treasurer, Sara as Secretary and three co-chairs - Stu, Kura through to May 2012 and Dominique from June through to August 2012. Our successes have been largely due to the members who have taken on both formal and informal leadership roles in WGWG. That includes Alexis leading the website review, Kura taking a leadership role with the funding committee, Bill taking responsibility for our induction days, Ross being our liaison with social workers for the Cuthbert funds, George, Kassie and the School’s Out facilitators for being so pro-active, Conner for being our link to Tranzform, Sara, Jason, Bill and Chris for your time and effort with homeless youth, Jo for leading the Lesbian Drop-In and Bill and Greg for your key roles with Newcomers. To you and everyone else who led the way, many thanks.

Stu Donaldson and Dominique De Witt Co-Chairs, Wellington Gay Welfare Group Incorporated 21 August 2012

The year in review - Our Organisation (Annual Report, part 1)

Our Organisation
The Wellington Gay Welfare Group Inc (WGWG) is an incorporated society. We were founded in 1979 and became a registered charity in 2008.

Our Mission
WGWG’s mission is to promote the welfare of all those in the Wellington region who identify with the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex (GLBTI) communities.

Our Objectives
Our objectives are:
• To provide support for members of the Wellington region GLBTI communities.
• To increase the self-esteem of members of the Wellington region GLBTI communities.
• To present a positive model of GLBTI life and image of GLBTI sexuality.
• To foster an increased awareness of GLBTI issues by:
- Providing information to members of the GLBTI community about being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender/transsexual or intersex.
- Providing information to the GLBTI community about coming out and family and personal relationships.
- Providing information about the GLBTI community to other organisations and groups in the community.
- Promoting, encouraging and supporting other amenities, facilities, groups and organisations for GLBTI people.
- Fostering awareness of HIV/AIDs, including the encouragement of safer-sex practices.

Our Activities
In 2011/2012 we furthered our objectives by providing five main services:
• The Wellington Gay & Lesbian Helpline.
• School’s Out, the queer support group for teens based in Wellington, Kapiti and The Hutt.
• Coming-out groups for both men (Newcomers) and women (the Lesbian Drop-In).
• Financial support for local gay men with HIV/AIDS.
• Assistance with Tranzform, the group for trans youth, their friends and supporters.

Our People
As at 30 June 2012 WGWG had two part-time employees and 48 volunteers. The volunteers were either members of WGWG (27) or were training to be members (21). WGWG also has 28 associates – previous members who still wish to be associated with the group. WGWG has an Outside Supervisor who is available for consultation on professional counselling and ethical issues and who assists with resolving disputes and disciplinary matters.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Welcome Andre, Gelo & Sarah - 3 New Volunteers


Hi everyone. I've recently taken on the job as a coordinator for Newcomers group and am really enjoying it so far!

I am a part time student at Weltec studying towards a Bachelor of Counselling, so coordinating this group feeds my interest of therapeutic work in a group setting, making this a great learning opportunity. Being part of this group also has allowed me to meet and connect to the gay community here in Wellington which is really great as well!

From Christchurch originally, I've been in Wellington for 4 years now. I'm really enjoying my lifestyle here in this still-new city. Recently my boyfriend and I bought our first home together, so life is exciting, rich, and full at the moment.

The Newcomers group is really proving to be a supportive and enjoyable place for the participants to explore what 'coming out' is all about, for themselves and for others in the group.

If you are interested about the Newcomers group, find out more by clicking on the link to the group on the left side on the Gay Wellington homepage, and to make contact, either email: or phone Gay Helpline: (04) 473 7878

See you around Wellington.

Mabuhay! I’m Gelo Camaya from Manila, Philippines. I’ve been in New Zealand for 6 months now and looking for LGBT groups where I can partake in. I was very glad that WGWG was the first link that I stumbled on when I Googled it. I am working as a Test Analyst in one of the leading IT companies in the world.
At a very young age, I was already exposed to various discrimination issues against LGBTs in my community. With these happening, I have decided to be involved in the LGBT community in the Philippines. Some groups that I have worked with are: Ladlad Partylist (The National LGBT Political Organization), OneBacardi (Gay Youth Organization), Task Force Pride Philippines (Organizing committee of the annual Manila LGBT Pride March) and Youth Voices Count (MSM and TG youth group in South East Asia and the Pacific). Aside from being an LGBT advocate, I also do volunteer work for HIV/AIDS awareness and causes.
Being involved in WGWG is a new opportunity for me to continue working for my passion. This is also a great venue for me to learn and experience new LGBT situations, and share stories of struggles and successes of LGBTs in the Philippines and some countries in South East Asia.
During my free time, if I have any, I enjoy hanging out with my friends, playing board games, watching movies, travelling to new places and splurging in shopping.
I’m looking forward to a memorable and a fabulous time with WGWG.

Hi all. I'm Sarah. I joined WGWG earlier this year after coming along as a guest speaker one night to talk about the union movement. At the meeting I thought, “These people are cool and very inclusive and they want to make a positive difference in our community. Where do I sign up?”
I shifted to Wellington in February 2011, originally from Auckland. I was a member of OUTline there and attended a training course with Stu and Jo a few years ago. I love living in Wellington my new home and in my downtime I enjoy exploring the many little villages and beautiful walks.
I see life as a big adventure. I have worked in many different jobs and lost count of the number of different places I have lived. One of my friends called me ‘the wandering Jew’ as I am often on the move.
I see myself as Queer Femme and proud. I feel very lucky in having friends and partners who have a variety of different genders and identities. These relationships have enriched my life and my perspectives.
Workwise, I originally trained as a video-editor, worked in television (Hunter S Thompson was right about the media, it is a long shallow trench where good men (sic) die like dogs!) played music and made a short dance film - a collaboration with a choreographer. I changed direction in my 30s and returned to study so that I could focus on two of my big passions, environmental sustainability and community development. Since then I have worked in local government and the community sector in various roles.
I have three nephews who are my little stars and I love them to the moon and back and some.
When I get a chance I enjoy travel - to anywhere! My favourite trip was to Mexico and Cuba. I have been a big fan of Cuban Salsa and Spanish ever since, and am forever trying to learn both. I also love writing and films of any kind so if anyone wants to be part of a writers group or film-buffs club or especially if you are a lead on the dance floor, let me know!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

NZ Prostitutes Collective talks to Gay Wellington

There were 22 of us at Gay Wellington's monthly meeting on July 17th (from 6pm to 7pm).

Calum from the NZ Prostitutes Collective was the guest speaker. He managed to keep us entertained for an hour by presenting facts and figures and answering an avalanche of questions.

We learnt that prostitution was decriminalised in NZ in 2003 and our laws are now some of the most liberal in the world. Based on a 2007 survey, 85% of NZ prostitutes are female, 9% are male and 6% are trans. The most usual age is 20-24, then 18-19, then 25-29 and then 30+. About 83% are indoor and 17% are outdoor workers. In Wellington there are about 32 prostitutes who are regularly on the streets.

We even learnt the difference between BOOBS and SOOBS (Big Owner Operator Brothels and Small Owner Operated Brothels). According to the survey, earning money is the most common reason for taking up prostitution. A high proportion of male prostitutes also give sexual experimentation as a reason.

The research didn't provide any information about clients. Though we know some people who think they may be same-sex attracted do become clients to help figure out their own sexuality.

And a final thought in case you're thinking of taking this up as a secondary job - you need to be very self-confident. If you're not, sex work probably isn't for you.

Check out the NZPC website if you want to know more.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A community discussion on supporting young queer people in the Kapiti Area

School’s Out invites you to:

A community discussion on supporting young queer people in the Kapiti Area.

We\'d like to do more things to sustain and nurture queer and trans youth in Kapiti and we are asking you - the people who live and work and study in the area - for your opinions about how this should happen. What School’s Out really needs is a support network in place that can make young people feel safer, better supported, and connected with their community. We want to work with the Kapiti community to set goals of what we all want to achieve in the region in the future.

When: 25th July at 5 30pm

Where: Kapiti Youth Support, 15 Tutanekai St, Paraparaumu

School\'s Out Aims to:

·         Create a strong sustainable School’s Out group in the area, with more young people involved in making a safe and supportive meeting space for queer and transgendered youth
·         Have as much participation from the Kapiti community and youth in the area as possible
·         Make a stronger support network in the area by fostering closer connections with the queer community in the area
·         Build links with high schools and community groups in the area.
·         Support anti-bullying and diversity awareness initiatives, seeking to work with schools to create safe environments for all students, and to create a feeling of safety and acceptance, with support from straight students
·         Train facilitators locally to run meetings for this group and keeping strong communication with the centre.
·         Build mentoring links between diversity group leaders in Kapiti schools and School’s Out facilitators and develop queer youth leadership capacity.
·         Get together more local sources of funding to sustain this group.

Feel free to contact us on the info below if you have any queries in regards to this event.

School\'s Out - Queer Youth Organisation
m:             0277 639 793    
a:  PO Box 11-372, Wellington

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Welcome Kyaw - a new volunteer

Hi everyone, Kyaw here.

I am originally from Yangon/Rangoon, Myanmar/Burma. My parents (and I) moved to New Zealand about 6 years ago. I studied Pharmacy at University of Otago, Dunedin before moving up to Masterton in December of last year. I am current completing my Pharmacy Internship.

I identify myself as gender-fluid and bisexual. I started coming out in my late teens before my arrival in New Zealand and can confidently say I have completed that.

I decided to become a trainee Gay Wellington helpliner as Auckland based OUTLINE was a great help in continuation of my coming out process after my arrival in New Zealand. In hindsight, I am glad my coming out had bits from both Burmese and Kiwi LGBTI narratives.

In addition to above listed activities and a few others, I maintain my own weblog with occasional to regular posts (depending on my other tasks) mainly featuring one of these: flags, Asia-Pacific countries (broadly defined), and my thoughts on a variety current affairs/issues including those of the ‘rainbow’ colour.


Latest news from promohomos, helpline & coming out support groups


Hi Everyone, just an update from Promohomos.

At the last meeting we had a chance to speak about who we are and what we do for the group. Basically Promohomos is the promotional arm of Gay Wellington with members who dedicate time (the best that we can) in finding ways to let people know we are here. So far our projects include Website maintenance, advertising with DOMPOST and identifying ways to promote Gay Wellington. Next on our list is to finalise what our official logo is, sort some flyers and posters for School's Out, Tranzform and Gay Wellington. If you are keen to join the group just let us know and we are more than happy to welcome new members.

I addition to this, I have met up with Andy Derleth in Auckland. He is the reigning Mr. Gay World 2012. He offered to help in promoting us during his interviews and appearances and asked to have an overview of what we do and who we are. During the meeting I provided him some information on the different activities that we do and gave him some flyers too. I am very happy with my catch up with Andy as it is always a good experience to meet people who are passionate about fighting homophobia. Alexis


We were available for 12/16 days in June, took 5 calls (4 male, 1 female) and spoke for 1hr. It was an unusually quiet month!

Lesbian drop-in

The next Lesbian Drop-In group meets Thursday July 5th at Blondinis cafe - upstairs at the Embassy Theatre. Look for our rainbow sign on a table. We're a friendly lot and all women are welcome. Email first if you would like to know more -


We had two meetings in June and two compelling and emotional stories. How can any male coming out resist coming to this group? Stu

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Dee & Stu - co-chair headlines

Our new co-chair

Hi, how are you? I’m so glad we have this opportunity to talk! My name is Dominique DeWitt, or Dee. I’m a Performance Artist who has recently completed my B.F.A. (Hons), in fact, you may perchance see my smiling face about town on the posters for the upcoming July Dr. Sketchy. I’m also a facilitator for the Wellington trans youth group ‘Tranzform’, a volunteer position that I have had the pleasure to be in for the past two years. But the reason I’m writing what you are now reading is that I’m the new co-chair of this fine group; the Wellington Gay Welfare Group. As far as I know - or anyone else at WGWG that I’ve spoken to knows - I am the very first trans co-chair that WGWG has ever had, and I am honoured to have been voted in to such a position.

Unfortunately there has always been some animosity about how included the ‘T’ of 'LGBT' has been within queer spaces and institutions. At times transgender inclusion has seemed a rather token gesture, being lip-service only. The problem of trans inclusion - and here I’m using trans as a term to encompass anyone who identifies as a gender different from that which they were assigned at birth- generally arises due to the differences in the issues faced by trans people, as opposed to those shared by much of the wider queer community. Although there is undoubtedly significant overlap, it sometimes feels like there is a huge chasm between the views and needs of the trans community and those of the rest of the 'LGB'. I hope that as co-chair of the WGWG, I will be able to work towards a better involvement of the trans minority in the larger 'LGB' majority, developing mutual respect and furthering our understanding of the issues we face as a community, as groups within this community, and as individuals. In this way I hope to enable the WGWG to continue it’s awesome support of a diverse and fabulous LGBT community in which everyone can feel involved and welcomed!


Strategy… and Melbourne

As we end another financial year and welcome a new co-chair, what should our group’s strategic priorities be? Here’s what I’d put on the shortlist:

1. School's Out future direction, funding and renewing employee contracts in October 2012

2. Helpline - taking Outline calls and using the Gayline national database

3. Undertaking a community survey to help determine our future five-year direction as a group

4. Deciding whether we change our management structure so every group is run in a more professional way

5. Improving our own promotion and community interaction.

And why, you ask, is Melbourne in the heading? The Australian Charities Commission offered me a 4-month contract from 1 August through to December so I will be heading across the Tasman soon. The July WGWG meeting will be my last as co-chair, which shouldn’t be a problem as the AGM is in August. If I don’t see you in July, I’ll see you at WGWG’s Xmas do! PS You’re welcome to visit.


Saturday, June 30, 2012

Youth News: Tranzform & School's Out


Tranzform is a group for trans youth, their friends and supporters.  Phone/text 022 105 0774.

It has been an exciting month for Tranzform. Five of us were very lucky to be able to attend the Agender hui in Christchurch over Queen's Birthday weekend, thanks to some funding from Gay Wellington. It was an amazing event; we met people from Christchurch, Dunedin, Nelson, Hamilton and Auckland - as well as some in rural areas. The hui itself was relatively small which meant we really got to know everyone and share some of our stories, especially with some of the older people in our community, and be part of building a new whanau. It was the first Agender hui to be held on a marae, which some were a bit nervous about, but being able to express our gender in such a strictly traditional environment was incredible. A huge thanks to the people who made this happen for us, it was a once in a lifetime event and we are so grateful.

Tranzform groups have been going well and attendance numbers are stable. Evolve is a really nice venue so we are enjoying meeting there. At our last meeting someone had brought a ten kg box of clothing with them from Nelson to give away so we had a 'Tranzform clothes swap' which went really well.

Dee and I had the opportunity to speak to the WGWG business meeting about Tranzform and how it is going. We ran a transgender trivia quiz and people seemed to be pretty excited about that; one of our members also volunteered to come along and talk about what he gets out of Tranzform.

Lastly, we are really stoked about Dee's new role as co-chair for Gay Wellington. It is awesome to see some trans visibility and representation within the group. All the best Dee.
School's Out
School's Out is the queer support group for teens based in Wellington, Kapiti and The Hutt.  Phone/text 027 763 9793.
Hi everyone! This month we got the opportunity to present to Gay Wellington about what we have been up to over the past year. We ran a presentation, had volunteers facilitate some ice-breakers that we use in groups, and one of our youth came in and spoke about the positive role School’s Out has had in her life.

This month we have been continuing to run our after school groups in Central Wellington, Lower Hutt and Kapiti. Our volunteer Tommy has started up a new Facebook page, so be sure to track us down and like us, to receive updates about what we are doing. We have also welcomed Juliet as our new secretary for our rowdy, yet strangely organised management meetings.

We are still looking for folks in the Kapiti region to help rejuvenate our group, so please send us an email if you would be keen to lend some support at Lastly, a big thanks to Gay Wellington for the ongoing support!


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Queer films at the NZ International Film Festival

The NZ International Film Festival starts in Wellington on July 27th. Keep an eye out for eight films that may be of LGBT interest: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Your Sister’s Sister, Bernie, Farewell My Queen, Keep the Lights On, Habana Muda, Bully, and Call Me Kuchu. Apparently session times will be available on Friday 29th June once the programme is launched.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Kura & Stu - Co-Chair Headlines

Matariki signals a time to reflect on the past and plan for the New Year.  With this in mind I have decided to relinquish the co-chair role which I have been in for almost a year. It's been a great experience providing an opportunity to learn about the early beginnings of WGWG and the diverse groups WGWG  currently support. Stu is a fabulous co-chair to work alongside with and would provide good support to anyone who wanted to take up the vacant co-chair role.   I will still be involved with WGWG  through the  helpline and also with the funding committee. Chur to the chur folks... see you at the next training and business meeting. 


Awww thanks Kura, it's been great working with you over the last year and we'll miss you in the co-chair seat.

A couple of weeks ago I posted a blog with 20 ideas for how to meet gay guys in Wellington.  It's a list most helpliners are familiar with, but as you'll see from our statistics, not many people are phoning helpline to ask what's going on.   Over 160 people read that blog post within two weeks and I received a lot of positive feedback.  That's almost as many people who phone helpline in a year!  In fact we're averaging about 500 hits on our blog a month and close to 700 on our webpage, so that's a good sign that Gay Wellington is increasing its internet profile and its online users.

If you're reading this but you want to interact by phone or in person, the helpline and the coming out groups (the Lesbian Drop In and Newcomers for men) may still be right for you. And if you're in the youth bracket, School's Out and Tranzform are two really good face-to-face support groups.

Whatever you decide to do, if you want information, support or just a chat, get in touch!  There are 47 members of the local GLBTI community who belong to Gay Wellington and we've all been there. 


Latest news from Helpline & the coming out support groups


We were available for 14/18 days in May, took 10 calls (7 male, 3 female) and spoke for 2hrs. The callers ranged from guys coming out through to straight callers asking for GLBTI resources for family members.

Lesbian Drop-In

Hi everyone. The Drop-In Group continues to meet at the Embassy cafe (upstairs) on the first Thursday of the month. Our next meeting will be on Thursday June 7th from 6pm to 7.30pm. We're very friendly and casual. Watch for our sign on one of the tables. Cheers Jo

Newcomers (for men coming out)

We had two meetings in May with about 10 people coming along each time. Some Newcomers joined our social event at the Awhina Centre as well as listening to Galaxies speak at our monthly meeting. The next Newcomers meetings are 12 and 26 June. Stu

Updates from School's Out & Tranzform

School's Out

Kia ora whanau, this month has been another big month for School’s Out. With help from our awesome volunteers, we managed to get into four schools in Wellington and Kapiti to give out free food, t-shirts and flyers to raise awareness about homophobic and transphobic bullying in schools. Special thanks to Kabel who managed to make the whole day run smoothly!

We have also been working on our new website, organisation policy, a plan to support homeless youth and helping youth in their queer straight alliances at schools. Our groups in the Hutt and Central Wellington are going strong, and we have had guest speakers talk about Out Takes, body positivity for Youth Week as well as having an appearance from Greens MP, Jan Logie.

Our next goal is to build up our Kapiti support network and we will be holding a public meeting within the next couple of months. If you are based in the Kapiti area and are keen to help School’s Out in building a strong, supportive community in the region, then send us an email at the following address: Kassie

Tranzform has had an exciting month. We had our first meeting at the new venue - Evolve - last week which went really well. Numbers had been a bit low in past months but we are starting to pick back up again and we are always working on promoting a safe and inclusive culture. A number of the members are off to Christchurch this weekend for the Agender trans hui which we will hopefully come back from with heaps of new ideas and enthusiasm. Our awesome friend Ben has also made a new poster and logo for us. They both look really great, we can't wait to use them. Connor

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Galaxies - a gay christian-ish group in Wellington

Despite winter weather and work commitments keeping many people away, there was still a good turnout of both members and visitors to the last WGWG training session, with invited members from Galaxies gay Christian group as guest speakers.

The first difference between Galaxies and other groups is that they describe themselves as “Christian-ish” being open to views, philosophies and learning from all enlightened faiths and practices. The group is made up of a range of people with different spiritual outlooks, from mainstream Christianity to unique, individualistic forms of spirituality. Their common goal is the exploration and discussion of individual and group spirituality in a loving and accepting manner and environment. And that means fun as well as serious discussions!

The discussion was led by Peter, Tony and Ryan. All three are gay men from different Christian backgrounds and experiences and they express their individual beliefs in different manners. This is one of the strong points of Galaxies.

Tony gave a brief history of Galaxies, which sprung from the Law Reform Movement in 1986. Many gay Christians at that time were struggling to find their identity and expression of faith within mainstream Christianity. Galaxies, as a group, was one of two groups founded after the 2 gay Christian conferences in Auckland and Wellington in 1991-2. It has not moved very far from the original foundations.

Galaxies started as a mixed group of non-denominational Christians. It was not clergy led or affiliated to any denomination. Times of worship used contemporary resources with emphasis on creativity and NZ content. For many years, Galaxies ran a yearly Advent service with a choir. Public activities included church advocacy for LGBT rights and law reform submissions. Many WGWG members will be familiar with the Galaxies name as financial supporters of WGWG in various projects over the last few years.

Today, the services are a shared meal with an informal discussion or relevant DVD or a communal time of prayer and reflection, often including resources and practices from non-Christian traditions.

The question time was wide ranging. Questions ranged from the practical, such as how can Galaxies help LGBT today? To more theological but just as important questions, such as What is spirituality? And how do we define God?
There were some very practical questions about how Galaxies could help the WGWG helpline. How do we counteract homophobia? As well as providing a safe environment for worship, Galaxies can provide scholarly articles on theology and LGBT issues within the church, as well as being a source of LGBT role model stories and news items. Galaxies also provides an alternative to the bar scene for LGBT people who want to socialise outside of the jetset!

Pete has also released a collection of books and publications in PDF form that show how LGBT people are not condemned in the Bible but how these key scriptures have been misused.

There are brochures with contact details in the WGWG office, or you can contact Galaxies through their website at The next Galaxies meeting is Sunday, 24 June at 5.30pm and will celebrate the Winter Solstice. Galaxies meets in St Andrews on The Terrace, through the side entrance.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

20 ways to meet gay guys in Wellington

We often get contacted by guys who are coming out or are new to Wellington and they have no idea how to meet other gay guys socially.  When we start to run through a list of options, usually they're really suprised.  Here's a list of 20 ideas I've put together and sent to a couple of guys recently.  Tell us what you think - what's missing that you'd recommend?

20 things a gay man in Wellington can do to meet other guys socially...

1.Drop in at the S&M bar on Cuba Street. They're friendly and there are free newspapers and pamphlets that tell you what's going on. If you feel awkward with nothing to do, come to one of their camp bingo (bingay) evenings on Wednesday and have some fun.

2. Go to Pink Ink. The gay men's book group that meets monthly to discuss and share books and DVDs. Contact, mobile: 027 274 4200

3. Try bowling. Sundays, 5pm at Strike, 399 Hutt Road, Lower Hutt. Playing 3 games of tenpin in teams of 2. Cost is only $20pp. email:

4. Sing with the gay and lesbian choir, the Glamaphones. Rehearsals are on Thursdays 6.30 - 8.30, at St Mary's Hall in Boulcott Street, 50m up the road from the church. Contact Jo Calascione or Jan Suckling

5. Learn how to dance. DANSSINZ classes for Wellington Gay and Lesbian dancers and friends are held at Thistle Hall, located on the corner Arthur Street & Cuba Street, upstairs (enter through Arthur Street side). Payment is by koha/donation. No partner is necessary. Sunday Nights. 7-9 pm

6. Chill out at a cafe. Abode Cafe, 28 Cornwall Street, Lower Hutt's only out and proud gay owned and operated cafe!

7. Get fit running. Frontrunners is an inclusive running group for the Capital’s gay and lesbian runners. They meet outside the Freyberg Pool on Oriental Parade on Sundays at 9am.

8. GOTH. It's not what you may think. Gays Of The Hutt is a gay mens social group that meets in the Hutt for pot luck dinners. The group's meetings are on the second Saturday of each month from 7.30pm-10pm (from February-November). The attendee numbers vary from about 7-15 people each month. Contact GOTH by phoning the gay helpline on 473 7878.

9. Pack condoms. The NZAF Āwhina Centre is based on Willis Street in central Wellington. Our one constant opportunity is condom packing. One evening every week we have a dedicated team of volunteers who gather at our main centres to pack condoms. We distribute around 30-40,000 condoms each month - that's a lot of condoms! We would love your help to pack them.

10. Swim. Different Strokes is a group of mixed ability swimmers who swim together for fitness, fun and friendship. All ability levels, male and female swimmers are welcome. Coached swimming training sessions every Monday at 7:00pm; uncoached training sessions every Thursday night at 7:00pm and social swim sessions every Sunday at 5:00pm during winter daylight saving times and at 6:00pm during summer. Address: Freyberg Pool, 139 Oriental Parade, Wellington. (Thursday and Sunday). WRAC, 63 Kilbirnie Crescent, Kilbirnie.(Monday).  Email: Different Strokes Website:

11. Hear a coming out story (or tell yours). Newcomers is a group run by Gay Wellington where guys meet every second Tuesday from 6pm to 7.30pm to share their coming out story or hear others talk about their lives. Great to do if you're coming out, but if you've already been there you can still come and help other guys by telling your story. Phone the gay helpline on 473 7878.

12. Cycle. Yes, Wellington does have a gay men's cycling group. The guys cycle for an hour most Saturday mornings and have coffee afterwards. Phone the gay helpline on 473 7878.

13. Get political. The Queer Avengers is a group fighting homophobia and transphobia, in Wellington and further afield. They meet every Thursday and they like rainbow balaclavas and unicorns. Contact them by email at: thequeeravengers AT gmail DOT com.

14. Volunteer. Gay Wellington runs a helpline, coming out groups, School's Out, a HIV/AIDS grant fund and much more. They have monthly guest speakers from the community as well as monthly social events. Phone the gay helpline on 473 7878. If this isn't your thing, have a look round for other volunteer groups to join. Gayline is another group of volunteers working to help others who are gay or are exploring their sexuality by maintaining a database of what's on. Check out

15. Become a social fruit. Social Fruits is a social group for young LGBT people 18-30 years. Contact Ellen on 027 5499542 or email for more details.

16. Are you a gay or bi dad? Gay Dads is a friendly social group for gay dads and their partners. The group meets monthly (usually at weekends) for a pot luck meal and drink. This is a social group and they normally meet in someone's house. email

17. Take a trip out of town. The Kapiti Rainbow Club is a social group for men in the Kapiti and Horowhenua areas. Monthly gatherings, email There's also Rural Blokes, a social group for gay men in the Wairarapa that organises social events. email

18. Network. Rainbow Wellington is a group representing the interests of, and organising social functions and activities for, the local GLBTI community. They hold regular events and publish a very good newsletter. It costs $40 to be a member. Email or check out their website which is always up-to-date and quicker than email:

19. Walk on the wild side. Wellington has two gay saunas - Checkmate at 15 Tory Street and The Emperor's Bathhouse on 5 Wigan Street.

20. Admire the flora. Join the Wellington Rainbow Gardening Group. email

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Co-chair soapbox

April was a busy month for Gay Wellington. Our total number of members and new volunteers has hit a record high of 45 people after the recent intake day, so a warm welcome to all the new folk! It’s great to have you on board to help promote the welfare of all those in the Wellington region who identify with the queer communities. We often receive good feedback about the work we do - it's great to make a difference.  For example check out our blog for the feedback we received in April about Newcomers, our coming out group for men.

When the Wellington lesbian couple publicly denounced the discrimination they felt at a public bar last week, homophobia was on the minds of many people in our community. Homophobia isn’t acceptable and it’s Gay Wellington's job to reinforce the validity and acceptability of gayness. As the events unfolded in front of the media we didn’t release a statement as groups like Queer Avengers have done (they did a good job though, well done guys). However we want the community to know that all of the Gay Wellington subgroups and volunteers are here to give personal support to people facing homophobia. That's one of the reasons why the Wellington helpline, School's Out, Tranzform, and the coming out groups for men and women exist!

In future we may become more proactive with the media – that’s something we’ll discuss more as a group. The upcoming planned survey about what the Wellington GLBTI community expects from us will help us plan our future role in the community. If you are willing to help out with the survey project, let us know.

Finally, one of the many highlights of the month was when a group of 18 Gay Wellington volunteers went to That’s So Gay at BATS. Most of us shared a dinner afterwards - a fabulous night out and a good way to socialise with fellow volunteers. Thanks Jo and Marc for putting time aside to make these social events happen.  And thanks to everyone who worked on the production of That's So Gay - it was brilliant!

If you're reading this and you'd like to join our group of diverse volunteers, don't hesitate to call helpline on 473 7878 or email us at

Stu & Kura

Updates from School's Out and Helpline


Things have quietened down for School's Out in April, but we've still been involved in exciting activities for our holidays including a successful trip to the zoo, and a games day at Zeal. A number of our youth have also been involved in the Toi Whakaari production, That's So Gay which is a collection of true stories which reflect the lives of our queer youth. The show sold out over three nights, and we hope that everyone managed to get a chance to see this awesome performance!

School's Out would also like to thank all of its wonderful volunteers. The role of a facilitator can take up a lot of time, as well as be emotionally demanding, and we appreciate the effort that each of our volunteers (including those behind the scenes) put into making this a strong and supportive organisation for youth.
Lastly, if you know of anyone between the ages of 14-18 who is queer or questioning, don't forget to let them know about us, and pass on our number: 0277 639 793. Kassie

We were available for 15/18 days in April, took 7 calls (3 male, 4 female) and spoke for 2hrs. The callers were a mix of people who recently moved to Wellington or who were coming out.

That's the lowest number of monthly calls in ages.  What happened in April?  If you would like information about the local GLBTI community, want a referral to another group or just want to chat about what's going on in your life, give us a call.  We've got a diverse group of volunteers ready to say hello from Sunday through to Wednesday, 7.30pm-9.30pm.  Phone 04 473 7878.

Newcomers - is it any good?

A Newcomer recently wrote this testimonial about us (thanks Logan): "Being a gay man thinking of coming out, I joined Newcomers hoping to hear about the stories of others and how they found the whole coming out process. I have always been able to relate, in some way, to the stories shared by other members of the group and have been amazed by how much some members have gone through – it really puts my own reservations about coming out into perspective. I also like the informal and ‘no drama’ nature of the meetings as well as the support and honest advice the group provides. I have been going to Newcomers for about three months now and would recommend it to anyone who is keen to give it a go." The next Newcomers meeting is Tuesday 8th of May and we meet every second Tuesday (from 6pm-7.30pm). Email or phone helpline if you'd like more information.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

LILAC talks to Gay Wellington

Our guest speakers this month were Alison and Mari from LILAC, the Wellington Lesbian Information, Library and Archives Centre.

LILAC is a collective of 12 women who have been operating the lending library since September 1994. What's amazing is that LILAC is unique - there's no other service like it in New Zealand.

The library at 64 Cambridge Terrace has a range of lesbian material including books, DVDs and magazines which you can browse from the electronic catalogue on their website. New items arrive each month so there's always up-to-date material to look at. Their New Zealand and Australian collections are really comprehensive.

The group recently introduced an 'outreach' service to the Kapiti Coast and is considering whether to expand further afield.

Since 2010 LILAC has also run a bookclub on the last Thursday of the month.

One message we took from the talk was that if you're a lesbian or bisexual woman, LILAC is definitely a place to visit. It's a women only space and a great location to go to if you're coming out and you want to start making connections or do some personal research. Although there's a modest membership fee if you want to withdraw books, it costs nothing to visit, browse the collection and chat to the volunteers.

Thanks Alison and Mari for coming along, it was fantastic to hear what your group is doing for the local community!

Monday, April 2, 2012

That's So Gay - at BATS Theatre this April

If you aren't going to see That's So Gay at Bats, then you're really missing some great theatre. The production is based on real life stories from the kids at School's Out, which is Gay Wellington's queer support group for teens based in Wellington, Kapiti and The Hutt. A group of 18 of us from Gay Wellington went on Friday 27th April. The passion of the actors and the creative way of telling stories and getting points across were brilliant. No wonder it is a sell-out - it could have fun for 3 weeks rather than 3 days!


That’s So Gay is a culmination of true queer stories that reflect the lives of Wellington youth today gathered, devised and performed by them. It is a truly collaborative community theatre production that will no doubt be inspiring, touching, and at times humorous—an absolute must see theatre piece at BATS Theatre this April.

Directed by Toni Regan
Co-Produced by Anny da Silva Freitas and Toni Regan

6:30pm at BATS on:

Thursday 26th April
Friday 27th April
Saturday 28th April

Ticket Prices:

$18.00 (Full Price)
$13.00 (Concession)
$14.00 (Groups 6+)
$5.00 (Schools Out/Te whaea Students)

Tickets can be purchased at BATS box office or online at

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Greetings from new volunteers Alison & Marc

Kia ora everyone, Alison here. I’m a 23 year old escaped Hamiltonian who has been living in Wellington for about 5 years now. I started my coming out process roughly 3 years ago, and recently decided to get involved with WGWG as a way to connect with the community. I was inducted last November, and have just been voted in as a full member, go me!

I'm graduating this May with a BA in International Relations and Geography. Don't ask me what I plan to do with it. Please. Other interests/hobbies include music, comic books, hanging out at the library, green politics, feminism and intersectionality, and naming my future 17 cats for when I inevitably become a cat lady (true story).

I enjoy a good label - I identify mostly as queer but sometimes gay and occasionally a lesbian. It's a pretty complicated system. So far I'm enjoying being a part of WGWG as a Helpliner, and look forward to helping out with other parts of the organisation when I get the chance. Alison


I’m originally from Guernsey and my parents divorced when I was 5. As a teenager I was unsure of my sexuality. I had a kind of relationship with a boy when I was 13 but told friends I liked girls. I lost my virginity to a woman at the age of 18 but thought that didn't really go how I thought it would go! I tried again at 20 and still had the same weird feelings so I said to mum "I think I'm bi". Her eyes just widened and she said “whatever makes you happy”.

By the time I was 21 I told my close friends I was gay. Mum was the next mission – I thought she might disown me! I was making a cheese and ham sandwich at the time (it’s sooo much easier making a sandwich and telling the parents lol). Mum walked in and the words “mum I’m gay” just fell out of my mouth. She went into the conservatory and shut the door. It felt like a lifetime and I wondered if her heart sank with the notion that she would not have grandkids. But she returned and once again said “whatever makes you happy Marc”. I’m lucky that I was accepted by all my family including my 86 year old granddad.

I didn't tell my dad I was gay and I regret that I never had the chance. I didn't see him much growing up. When he celebrated his 50th birthday it was a great night and I sat next to him at the head of the table. But dad just didn't seem right. Two days later he died at home. I was 23. A few weeks after that I told my step mum I was gay. She said “yeah we knew, and your dad accepted you for it”. Marc

What did we do in March?

We were available for 15 days in March, took 14 calls (13 male, 1 female) and spoke for 5hrs. The themes were ‘straight’ men with a same sex attraction, relationships, and loneliness.

School’s Out
The past month has been a very busy period for School's Out. We made huge leaps and bounds towards restarting up a new group based in Lower Hutt, due to the high demand from queer youth in the area. We held a community meeting where MPs Jan Logie and Trevor Mallard attended, showing that queer youth issues appear to be gaining more recognition in the parliamentary crowd.

We also held a successful training workshop for current and prospective queer youth workers which was facilitated by George and Mani. The weekend long training had 25 people attending from all over the lower North Island, and showed that there is a strong and enthusiastic bunch of people wanting to help our queer youth.

Sadly, the passing of a former School's Out youth also took place this month. Our youth and facilitators were all affected by this on some level, and we give our most heartfelt condolences to the family and Kapiti communities affected by this tragic event. E ngau kino nei te aroha. Kassie

We had two meetings in March, with 10 guys turning up to each and the stories are as compelling as ever! Stu

Lesbian Drop-In
The Lesbian Drop-In continues to meet monthly at the Embassy Theatre cafe. We now have a sign that we display on the table so newcomers can spot us. The next meeting is April 5th, 6pm - 7.30. Feel free to email me with any queries ahead of time - Cheers Jo

Cuthbert funds for Wellington gay men with HIV
The funding committee had a meeting in March to debrief on the last few years and see if there are any learnings for the future. We agreed to draft a blurb for the website soon so there will be wider awareness of the fund. Stu

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Donate to Gay Wellington this week and get a tax break

Hi everyone

We don't often ask the community to donate to the Wellington Gay Welfare Group. But this year our funding income is down and there's so much we want to do!

The next week up to Saturday 31 March is the ideal time to donate to us. Because we're a registered charity, any donations made to the group qualifies for a donation tax credit. If you donate before 31 March, which is the end of the tax year, you'll be able to claim 1/3rd back from IRD as soon as May 2012.

We put a lot of effort into keeping our website up-to-date so people know who we are, what we're doing and what's happening. Check it out to see what a difference we're making to the GLBTI community in the Wellington region.

Funders like the Wellington City Council and Lotteries are great supporters of our group, but they prefer to help fund salary costs for our School's Out activities. That means we struggle to pay for the basics in other areas. A $20 donation will pay our telephone bill for 1 week. $50 will pay for a week's worth of advertising so people can find out about us. $100 will help pay for a month's worth of travel so our youth facilitators can help in the Kapiti Coast and the Hutt.

You can donate directly into our bank account. Click on this link to find out how to do it and let us know if you want a receipt to claim back the donation tax credit from IRD.

Thanks for reading this blog. Any financial support you can provide is really appreciated. And don't forget that if you want to help but you don't have any money, you can still donate your time. Our next volunteer intake day will be on Saturday 21 April. Call us at helpline on 473 7878 or email us at to find out more.

Many thanks

Stu & Kura
Co-Chairs, Wellington Gay Welfare Group

PS You can also help us by forwarding the link to this blog to your friends who you think may be interested in supporting WGWG. Much of our work is by word-of-mouth so if everyone forwarded this on to several friends we'd be very grateful :-)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Join Gay Wellington! Next intake: 21 April 2012

If you'd like to do something for the community, now's the time to join Gay Wellington. We're not just a facebook group, we also run the Wellington Gay & Lesbian Helpline, coming out groups for men and women, School's Out, a grants committee for men with HIV/AIDS, we support Tranzform and we get involved with a lot of other things as well.

If you do decide to join you'll be part of a group of over 40 other volunteers, all working under the umbrella of a registered charity that started in Wellington back in 1979.

It doesn't cost anything to become a member apart from your time. And you're guaranteed to learn something and meet new people. We have monthly guest speakers (Agenda and the queer network for union members were the two most recent) and are planning a series of social events during the year.

If you are interested we'd usually catch up over coffee first to give you a better overview of the group and invite you to an intake/training day. The next one will be on Saturday 21 April from 9.30-4.00pm. Give us a call at helpline on 473 7878 or email us at You can find out more on our website.

Out@PSA & Out@work talks to Gay Wellington

On the third Tuesday of every month from 6pm-7pm we invite guest speakers along to talk to Gay Wellington members. Folk in the wider GLBTI community are also welcome to sit in.

Yesterday our guests were Sarah and Eileen from the PSA union and the NZ Council of Trade Unions. We had about 20 people in the audience, which was a fabulous turn-out.

Sarah told us about Out@PSA, a network for PSA members who identify as gay, lesbian, intersex, transgender, takataapui, fa'afafine or bisexual.

Eileen talked about the CTU network called Out@Work. This group was set up in 2000 as the Council of Trade Union's network for lesbian, gay, takataapui, bisexual, intersex, transgender and fa'afafine union members.

We learnt how unions will be passionate advocates for GLBTI issues. The role of both organisations is to promote respectful, diverse, and inclusive workplaces.

Eileen also mentioned some very useful information provided by the Human Rights Commission. For example, the "A to Z for employers and employees: pre employment guidelines". This publication offers a lot of good advice and answers questions such as 'What are the situations where the sexual orientation of a job applicant can be taken into account?'

A big thanks to Sarah and Eileen for taking the time out to talk to us :-)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Greetings from Ashleigh, a new volunteer

[GW] Welcome Ashleigh! So let's start with an easy question. What have you been doing for the last 100 years?

[A] Right, I've been wandering around this earth like the Isralites in the desert, finding a home. 40 years of that, I landed back in Wellington for work, a social life and, with a little surprise, a new girlfriend. I'll always be a mainlander at heart though, but Wellington is a great place to be for all of the above.

[GW] Nice one, so what made you join Gay Wellington?

[A] I've joined Gay Wellington cos it’s a great place to meet new people / contacts, and it presents an opportunity to do some financial type things. This fits with my new studies, where, when I grow up, I aspire to be a money laundering accountant...I mean a clean upstanding citizen who plays with other peoples' money for a living.

[GW] What’s your favourite saying?

[A] Life's short, eat dessert first.

[GW] Finally, what music is played in your house/car?

[A] Music depends on the mood, sometimes it's Anne Murray in the car,
other times, Leanne Rimes or Guns and Roses, Lady Gaga or Pink
sometimes make a cameo, but my music heart never truly progressed
past the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s.

At Gay Wellington we're always keen to have new volunteers. Give us a call at helpline on 473 7878 or send us an email at if you're interested in joining Ashleigh and the team.

Agenda NZ talks to Gay Wellington

Our February training guest was Natalie Shearer from Agenda NZ.

Natalie gave a very thought-provoking presentation on the issues facing the transgender community. Personal stories and experiences were shared from within the group. This increased our awareness and understanding of historical and current challenges. We also learnt how things we take for granted, like getting a birth certificate or presenting our drivers licence to employers, may not be so easy for trans people.

Natalie also highlighted the various support groups she works with in the community. It was a great presentation that would be beneficial for many organisations who want to make Wellington an inclusive, better place.

If you want to know more about Agenda, check out this link.

Our March training guest on Tuesday 20th March at 6pm will be the PSA. If you'd like to come along and listen, give us a call at helpline - we're happy to have more people in the audience.

Reports from Helpline, the Lesbian Drop-In & School's Out


We were available for 16 days in February, took 17 calls (5 male, 10 female) and spoke for 6hrs 30 minutes. The main themes were relationships coming out and information on community links.

Lesbian Drop-In

Kia ora All. At the Lesbian Drop-In this week we had visitors from France, Canada and Mexico. It’s great to hear about people’s experiences arriving in Wellington and their settling process. We continue to meet at the Embassy on Thursdays - the first one of the month. The next meeting will be April 5th. Peace Jo

School’s Out

School’s Out were recently invited by the Governor General, Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae and Lady Janine Mateparae, to a Waitangi Day reception at Government house. Some of our youth, plus me, got all tidied up and in our best finery for the occasion. Everyone loved Skye’s hair. It was a on a beautiful Wellington day and we had a great time and chatted to lots of other youth leaders from high schools from all round the area. I had a chat about School’s Out to my old school principal, and it was a great opportunity to talk about some of the great things we’re doing in the Kapiti area as well. We felt very proud to be invited to this super flash event! - George

This month's Gay Wellington Co-Chair Update

February was a blur for me because my 84 year old mother passed away. The funeral last week went well and over 120 people came, many from the farming district where I grew up. It was one of those rare occasions where the past catches up with the present and by the end of the service, after the celebrant had introduced me and my partner Stephen, everyone knew that mum had a gay son. Mum would have chuckled at the look on some people’s faces, but they were all great about it. It just goes to show that we never stop coming out! And it shows how times have changed for the better.


Welcome back Stu, our heartfelt thoughts were with you during this sad time. Kura

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Introducing Phil, a new volunteer

This year we decided to post more information about the great volunteers here at Gay Wellington. Here's a write-up from Phil who joined us late in 2011.

Hi. I have already met some of you at the intake training day in November. That was a buzz! It was great to be part of a supportive and positive group with so much honest sharing. It was also a real learning experience for me, expanding my ideas on self identity, gayness and gender.

I am a 48yr gay male. I was born and educated in Whanganui. I had a very Victorian upbringing which stopped when my older father died when I was 13 years old. After starting an adventurous sex life very early and into my early 20s, I was hospitalized as suffering from depression and anti-social behaviour. Treatment consisted of some very heavy drug therapy and being told I was gay and a deviant. This period lasted for about 2 years. Having been brought up as a strict Roman Catholic, I resisted the idea and proceeded to throw myself into the corporate world to prove everyone wrong.

After many years of trying to live the straight life, numerous unsuccessful affairs, a serious sexual attack followed by a bout of drinking and drug abuse which nearly killed me, I finally came to a period in my life when I had to confront certain facts about myself. Although some were painful, as I have hurt people in my past, I also discovered that I also have some talents and skills and realized that I can make a difference. Long live life!


Greetings from Kura and Stu, our Co-Chairs

Kia ora.

I have been associated with WGWG for two years predominantly cruising the periphery as a volunteer Helpliner. There are many positives to volunteering, and I have enjoyed working alongside other Helpliners, getting a different perspective on life, that sense of giving back to the community and generally becoming more aware of the issues facing the GLBTQ community. Sure, there have been some “duh” moments but they have been few and far between.

In late 2011 I took on the role as co-chair alongside Stu. Whilst the role requires a little more commitment I have gained an appreciation of the length of time WGWG has been in operation, the number of umbrella groups it supports and the investment in time and energy volunteers have given to the organisation. I am reminded of the whakatauki Ahakoa he iti he pounamu - Although small, it is a greenstone/treasure. I am looking forward to making my small contribution to WGWG during 2012.



When we put together the list of non-helpline activities for new volunteers in December, it made us realise how our organisation is strongly building in new directions. We’ve had an extraordinary two months since the last newsletter, ranging from Xmas and New Year functions, through to Out in the Square. Thanks everyone for making it all work.

One topic on our priority list at the moment is the monthly meetings. We received feedback that some people thought WGWG is too internally focused. To help address that, we’re keen to make sure the 2012 monthly meetings regularly have a training/external speaker session before the business meeting. These sessions will ensure members have more exposure to what is going on in the community and we can invite a wider audience. Staying on for the business meeting is optional.

The first meeting for the year will be on Tuesday 21 February. From 6pm to 7pm the guest speaker will be Natalie from Agenda, followed by nibbles and then the business meeting.

There’s a lot to do in 2012. If you can help out in any area, don’t wait to be asked – put your name forward.


Tuesday, January 31, 2012

School's Out work hard at Out in the Square

Wellington thankfully blessed us with glorious weather last Saturday so Out in the Square was able to kick off without a hitch.

We arrived bright and early in Civic Square (around ten or so) to set up the School's Out stall, which was shared with Tranzform, and make sure everything was nice and pretty. Once some of our charming School's Out youth arrived, we lost no time in enlisting their aid. Armed only with flyers, we sent them off into the fray in search of new recruits.

As the day proceeded, with liberous amounts of sunscreen, merriment and dancing (particularly from the youth), we received lots of interest in what it is that we do. Several teachers from a variety of school's approached us about setting up Queer-Straight Alliances (QSAs) in their schools. Many new youth signed up to our email list and we hope to see some more of them very soon.

But perhaps most exciting of all, some of our youth got interviewed by One News and appeared on a segment of the news about Out in the Square which can be viewed on the TVNZ website ( - Saturday 21st Jan 2012,12 min 45 sec into clip)

All in all the day was a fabulous success and we look forward with anticipation to next year's fair!

[Thanks Ellen for writing this article :-)]

School's Out fun at Vinegar Hill

School’s Out went as a group to Vinegar Hill this year. This was the first time that our current leadership had taken youth on any such venture, so we spent the weeks beforehand meticulously planning with help from a couple of the more ‘camp experienced’ youth. Braving cold showers and the likelihood of torrential rain, sixteen of us ventured up to the Manawatu in vans and cars a few days after Christmas.

Vinegar Hill, for those who don’t know, is a popular destination for the queer community in the Christmas/New Year period, and it has been going since the 1980s at least. Every year people set up their tents, generators, fairy lights, disco balls, bring their tiny dogs and their lilos for an extravagant and flamboyant camping holiday.

On the first night, the Queen of Vinegar Hill (who is elected each year on New Year’s eve) hosted Fashion in the Field, in which contestants constructed costumes from the local flora and fauna and modelled it down the runway. The winner, Shane from Camp Snow, later gave cheap haircuts to some of the School’s Out campers.

We played some team bonding games and went swimming in the river the next day. After dinner we played ‘Secret pals’ where we went round the circle writing at least one nice thing about someone else, and everyone had good warm fuzzies going before getting costumes ready for the Paper and Plastic party. The rain had set in by this stage so we gradually ended up sitting next to the massive fire at Camp Hilton.

Our youth mentioned that their favourite things about the trip were swimming, cute group bonding times, games, hanging at camp with each other, dancing by the bonfire, the river, the people, being away, connecting more with the queer community, and meeting everyone. They wanted to stay longer!

Our youth had a great time in a queer space where they felt like they could be themselves. We also had some great opportunities to bond as a group. A lot of the other campers hoped to see us come back next year. We would love to return to Vinegar Hill, with the hope of making it an annual event for School’s Out. Feedback from the youth: “Thanks for camp! It was great fun (even with the rain)”; “It was just awesome to hangout and bond with everyone from School’s Out- I feel like we are a family now.”