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 (www.tvnz.com - 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.”

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Coming out in 2012?

Lesbian Drop-In

Happy New Year from the lesbian drop-in! Our first group will be held on Thursday Feb 2nd upstairs at the Embassy Theatre. If you are new to Wellington or to the Queer scene we are here to chat and provide support. If you would like to meet earlier or have questions about the group please email me. Jo


Hi guys who are gay, bi, or think you might be! Our coming out group for men, Newcomers, is going to change this year. In 2011 at the fortnightly Newcomers group meetings we always listened to one person’s life story. Everyone’s personal story is powerful and can really help men who are coming out or who think they may be gay.

The stories were so interesting we thought the audience needn’t just be men coming out – instead, in 2012, any man in the gay community is welcome to come along and share his story or hear others talk about their lives.

The meetings will start up on Tuesday 14th February from 6pm to 7.30pm. There are always free drinks and nibbles. Call or email helpline (473 7878, helpline@gaywellington.org) to find out more.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Thanks for coming to the Gay & Lesbian Fair 2012

It was great to see so many people at the fair today - the weather did us proud.

Gay Wellington's stall had the usual sausage sizzle courtesy of discounts from the butcher at Island Bay. And a big thanks to the Chocolate Cake Company for donating 20 delicious mini chocolate cakes to help us raise money.

If you came to the stall you may have seen our fresh new Gay Wellington flyer which was hot off the press this morning. Tranzform and School's Out had a busy table as well, with impressive new banners.

A big thanks to everyone who volunteered to help, as well as to everyone who came up to say hello!

And congratulations to the School's Out folk who were interviewed for TV1 news tonight. The clip about bullying was excellent :-)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Meet us at Out in the Square on Saturday

Out in the Square, the Wellington gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex (and generally queer) fair, is taking place in Civic Square this coming Saturday, 21st January (from around 9.30am to 4.30pm).

Gay Wellington has had a stall at the fair ever since it started 25 years ago. We'll have a BBQ sausage sizzle with top quality bacon and sausages from the Island Bay butchery. We'll also have our new flyer to give away, a donations bowl, and plenty of other stuff there under the big Gay Wellington sign.

Drop in and say hello. You can even sign up as a volunteer if you like!

See you there :-)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Gay Wellington - what do we spend our $ on?

We run a pretty lean organsation at Gay Wellington.

We've just filed our annual accounts with the Charities Commission, which you can find on the charities register link here. Our charity number is CC32286.

For an organisation that runs a helpline, two coming out groups, School's Out, makes grants to men with HIV and helps Tranzform, our total expenditure for the year was $32k (salaries, which were for Schools Out, were $13k).

Compare that to OUTLine NZ inc in Auckland, which primarily runs a helpline. Their most recent Charities Commission return shows total expenditure of $106k (salaries were $64k).

A lot of that difference in expenditure between Wellington and Auckland is due to the time people donate voluntarily here.

Another noticable difference between Auckland and Wellington is that we received donations of about $300, compared to $64k received by Outline NZ. Outline does a great job of obtaining donations from the public. Convincing local folk that we're worth donating to is something we'll have to work on in 2012!

If you have any questions about our financial accounts, or if you would like to donation some money to us, drop us a line :-)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Libra Tampons Commercial

Radio NZ will broadcast an item on the Libra Tampons Commercial tomorrow.

They asked Gay Wellington to comment as an advocacy group, so I gave a quick interview as co-chair about an hour ago.

I said that Gay Wellington supports the campaign to have the ad removed.

We're involved with the trans community through the helpline as well as Tranzform which is a support group for tranz youth. I said I think trans people are really brave and courageous, coming to terms with their situation and doing something about it. And trans people often say how important it is to have role models so they know they are not alone. So an ad that ridicules and jokes about the trans gender community is not acceptable.

RNZ asked what damage I thought could be done and I said if you marginalise people then suicide can be the result, so that's the ultimate damage.

I don't know whether they'll use the clip, but if they do I hope it helps...

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Helpline caller topics in 2011

About 12 of Gay Wellington's members run the local Wellington helpline telephone service, which is available for 2 hours a day, four days a week (Sunday-Wednesday, 7.30pm-9.30pm). We also have 10 people training to be helpliners at the moment.

During 2011 we had 150 calls (compared to 157 in 2010). From June the number of calls increased every month compared to the previous year. We talked to callers for about 40 hours over the 12 months, out of a total of 300 hours when we were available. Sixty six (44%) of the calls were from women.

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 types of discussion topics during 2011:

Coming out
First time same-sex experiences
Married men with same-sex attraction
Relationship issues and breakups
Transgender discussions
Where to meet other GLBTI people
Callers who are alone and just want a chat
Parents who find out their children are gay
Abusive partners
Oral sex & HIV questions
Immigration issues
Discrimination at work

We're aiming to link up with OUTLine to take national calls sometime in 2012. If you would like to donate money or time to our local helpline, contact us. And if you know someone who may benefit from a confidential and free chat with an experienced helpliner, suggest that they give us a call on 473`7878. Word of mouth recommendations are always the best!