Happy Pride! Christchurch Pride Week – 15 to 24 March

It’s nearly Pride Week! Lasting a little bit longer than an actual week, starting Thursday 15 March, Pride Week is a celebration of sexuality- and gender-diverse folks in Ōtautahi, and it’ll feature allsorts, from parties to seminars, art shows to dog walking. The rainbow flag will fly at the Christchurch City Council Civic Offices from 15 to 25 March.

However, pride celebrations have pretty sombre beginnings. The first pride marches in the USA were protests against the mistreatment and discrimination of LGBT+ people by the police, public services, and the law. As rainbow communities have largely seen great leaps forward in these areas over the past 40-50 years, these pride events focus more and more on celebrating diverse identities – but it’s important to take a moment to remember that there is still a struggle; that people are still being discriminated against because of their sexuality or their gender identity, both close to home, and globally.

Find out more about Christchurch Pride:

Pride Picks

Here’s my top 3 pride events you should check out happening in Ōtautahi in the coming weeks:

QCanterbury Quiz Night

I have a slight bias towards this event because I’m the MC! But who doesn’t like a quiz??
Friday 23 March 7pm to 10pm, The Foundry, 90 Ilam Road

Art Show

Christchurch Pride has started with an Art Show for a few years now, and it’s always a good night, with lots of mingling and snacks! Plus there’s an opportunity to buy some new artwork and support local LGBT+ artists at the same time. Thursday 15 March 5pm to 8pm, Windsor Gallery, 386 St Asaph Street

Bingo Fundraiser

I’ve been along to this event in previous years, and it is ridiculous fun. With all proceeds going towards a local youth support group, and the chance to win some fabulous prizes, it’s well worth it…who knew bingo could be so much fun?! Tuesday 20 March 7pm to 10pm.  Sixty6 On Peterborough, Christchurch Casino

More Pride

If this is a topic you’d like to learn more about, the library has some great reading/viewing material! Here’s some of the things I’ve enjoyed recently:

CoverQueer: A Graphic History  Meg John Baker and Julie Scheele – A non-fiction graphic novel style book delving into the history and key milestones of LGBT+ rights, as well as an introduction to queer theory. Engaging and witty and fun to read!

CoverPride – a film with all your favourite British actors about an unlikely partnership between gay and lesbian activists and striking miners in Wales.

Milk – a beautiful and heartbreaking film about Harvey Milk, an openly gay politician and activist in San Francisco in the 70s.
CoverThe library has a book about Harvey – and an opera.

CoverTomboy Survival Guide – Ivan Coyote – Brilliant, funny, serious, adventurous stories about growing up in rural Canada and navigating gender and sexuality.

Read our blog posts about Ivan, and Look up Ivan on YouTube too! They’re an incredible live storyteller.

Of course, there’s a never ending list of books and films to read and watch that explore what it means to be sexuality- and gender-diverse from a range of different cultural perspectives – Why not introduce yourself to something new this Pride Week?

Regardless of your orientation or identity, pride is a time to celebrate diversity and promote inclusion – a good reminder to have a look at your workplaces and community spaces and check they are inclusive and welcoming environments; or educate yourself on some new language or ideas within the rainbow community; find out what is going on for rainbow communities in other parts of the world; and, most importantly, check in with LGBT+ people in your life and remind them that they are loved.

Happy Pride!

Ray

An evening with Ivan Coyote – Tuesday 16 May at WORD Christchurch Autumn Season

Last year, I went to two events run by WORD Christchurch, and I fell in love with Ivan E Coyote.

Ivan Coyote. Image supplied.
Ivan Coyote. Image supplied.

Cover of 'Tomboy Survival Guide' by Ivan CoyoteI first saw them (Ivan goes by the gender-neutral pronoun) at Speaking Proud which I’d attended to see old favourite David Levithan. Ivan read their reply to a letter someone had written them, ‘Shouldn’t I feel pretty‘. It was a powerful, powerful letter and we were both tearing up by the end of it. All Ivan’s writing is performed impeccably – for them, writing goes hand in hand with performance – and is simultaneously moving and stunning. The letter was about more than just gender identity, it was about surviving in the world.

Cover of 'Missed Her' by Ivan CoyoteAt the end of the session, I bought their book Missed Her – a collection of moments, autobiographical stories, things you might read on the blog of a friend. There’s a wicked punch of honesty in each of the stories. When I went up to get the book signed, Ivan thanked me for being part of the audience “I saw you listening intently.”

Then the Christchurch Art Gallery hosted Hear My Voice, a non-stop hour and a half of spoken word poetry, and Ivan was there, a storyteller among the poets. They read ‘literary doritos’ – not quite poems or prose, but little anecdotes, some of them deeply upsetting, some so full of hope. There were stories of cruel, cruel words spoken by adults and poignant, brilliant words from kids who haven’t learned to hate yet.

“I don’t think he is a lady” said a young girl named Rachel, “I think he is a man… but with really pretty eyes.”

A year on and I can still hear Ivan’s delivery when I read those lines. Their storytelling power is epic, the kind of epic that, if you possibly have a chance, you must hear in person to really believe it.

Luckily for all of us – Ivan is coming back to Christchurch soon, at the Piano on the 16th of May. It’s a late-ish session – 8pm – and I’m preparing myself for an intimate, honest, hilarious, heart-aching evening.

Cover of Gender Failure by Rae Spoon and Ivan CoyoteAnd for those who can’t make it, I really encourage you to pick up one of their books and read a story. It won’t take much time, some of them are only half a page long, but it will be worth it. Or look them up on YouTube (Ivan’s done a great TED talk about the use of public bathrooms, and you can also find several performances of their work).

But try and get there if you can; it’ll be a night to remember.

Ivan Coyote: Tuesday 16 May 8pm

Podcast – Access to bathrooms

Speak Up Kōrerotia logoChristchurch City Libraries blog hosts a series of regular podcasts from New Zealand’s only specialist human rights radio show Speak up – Kōrerotia. This show is created by Sally Carlton.

This episode discusses issues around access to bathroom and toilet facilities such as –

  • bathrooms for transgender people, people with health conditions and people with restrictions placed on their bathroom usage by their workplaces
  • social and health consequences of not being able to access bathrooms
  • safety issues

The panel for this show includes host Sally Carlton, Brian Poole (Crohn’s & Colitis New Zealand), Olivia Clark (University of Canterbury Law graduate), Anne Nicholson (Qtopia) and Lisel O’Dwyer (Flinders University in Adelaide).

Transcript of the audio file

Websites mentioned in the show

Find out more in our collection

Cover of Conquering Irritable Bowel Syndrome Cover of Supporting Transgender & gender creative youth Cover of Trans bodies, trans selves Cover of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis Cover of Better living with IBS Cover of IBD Self-management Cover of Transgenders and Intersexuals Cover of To be who I am

More about Speak up – Kōrerotia

The show is also available on the following platforms:

Ivan Coyote: Talking across boundaries – WORD Christchurch

Ivan Coyote
Ivan Coyote (Image supplied)

When the WORD blog team put their hand up to cover different sessions at WORD Christchurch, I was fortunately alone in choosing both “The Storyteller” and “Black and Blue Storytelling” with Ivan E. Coyote. As the event continued and audiences enjoyed the stories, people kept coming back for more and more. By Sunday morning, “The Storyteller” session was sold out and WORD volunteers brought more chairs in.

Ivan hails from the Yukon, Canada and their stories are autobiographical, exploring family history and dynamics, gender identity, social justice and equality. At times self-deprecating, but with a good sprinkling of wit and humour so that the messages they are conveying are all the more powerful for being from personal experience. To deliver these messages in any other way, would perhaps come across as a lecture. Ivan has taken pains to point out that that is not their intention. In a Radio New Zealand interview Ivan explained that the medium they use is very traditional, whilst the subject matter is not. They write the story down and craft it before learning it, then once it is learnt, they are able to really tell it and tweak it and ad-lib for the audience. The result is a very natural, polished telling by a gifted raconteur.

Autobiographical storytelling requires a fine balance between truth and privacy. Ivan applies a strict set of criteria to their writing / telling. They ensure that the story is honouring and they thoroughly examine their own motivation in writing the story – for example are they trying to ensure that they have the last word? The essence of this is ensuring that they show compassion and that they “use their powers for good”. Ever since the sessions during WORD, I keep thinking what a great attitude and approach it is to aim to make everyone, even the most challenging person in the room comfortable and included. At the end of the day, why can’t we all just get along?

Ivan uses story to recount interactions with people with absolute attention to detail. “I’m not so much OCD but ATD – that’s attention to detail”. Through “Scars” we learnt a little about the mysterious world of a hand model, the map of childhood accidents and ultimately the effect of top surgery. This was moving for both the teller and the listeners. The humane telling elicits empathy, groans and sighs from the audience. On Sunday morning there was barely a dry eye in the room.

The session ended on a lighter note with Ivan telling a series of “literary doritos” short, bite-sized stories inspired by overheard snippets of conversation and a standing ovation.

Cover of Tomboy survival guideI asked Ivan if they intended readers to read their collections in order, as it seemed that Missed Her was intended that way. Ivan said that it didn’t matter although the Tomboy Survival Guide would probably be better if it was read in order. You read it here first…

Find stories by Ivan Coyote in the library catalogue

More WORD Christchurch

Black and Blue Storytelling – WORD Christchurch

Black and Blue Storytelling
Close confines at Black and Blue Storytelling

Black and Blue Storytelling at 27 steps brought me right out of my comfort zone. To be heading into Christchurch whilst stone cold sober and on my own on a Friday night after 10pm was a big thing for me – but there aren’t that many opportunities to hear adult storytelling. In my excitement I hadn’t really reflected on the name – black and blue storytelling in that some of the stories might be a bit risqué.

According to the host, Derek Flores aka ‘The Unicorn’, the aim of the evening was to conduct a social experiment to find “an inconvenient space and cram as many people as possible inside”. It was hot, or as the Unicorn described it “toasty” and the vibe was becoming a lot more like hot yoga – we were achieving weightloss through storytelling – yay!

To add to the surreal vibe, Mitchell the bar tender circulated bills to the people seated and unable to get to the bar. It is virtually a story in itself that, at the moment of Ivan E. Coyote’s introduction, Mitchell was trying to rest payment from them for Ivan’s bourbon.

Ivan had a simple message for the crowd in “A Cautionary Tale”. A tale involving a retro, blue polyester tuxedo, beer, ecstasy, air travel and inappropriate packing told with humour and panache. Don’t drink beer. We laughed, empathised and cringed together.

gender failureThis tale features in the book “Gender Failure” written with Rae Spoon, exploring their failure to fit into a gender binary world.

The Unicorn and Alice Canton wove an improvised tale that spun, as improvisation can into a surreal meander where the thread was almost lost until the Unicorn brought it all back together to a conclusion. The contrast between the crafted story and improvisation offered two very different oral narratives – a rare and welcome alternative offering in a literature festival programme.

More WORD Christchurch

Speaking Proud – WORD Christchurch

It’s too early to say that Speaking Proud was my favourite WORD session, since it’s the first I’ve attended so far, but for now it is. First time I’ve been back in the COCA gallery since 2010 (for shame!) and it was filled with cool, talented young people with great hair. I was as impressed by the local poets as I was by international writers David Levithan and Ivan E. Coyote. I highly recommend attending their other sessions this weekend, and also supporting the amazing work of Q-topia, Canterbury’s local LGBTQIA+ youth organisation.

David Levithan
David Levithan. Image supplied.

Isla Martin (master of words):

the thing is, I know God

and she doesn’t want us to clap our hands together in prayer,

she wants us to clap and keep clapping for every one of us still fighting and still here

Sophie Rea (funny, heartfelt):

If I ever have a daughter, I will dress her in rainbows.

Later when she’s older I’ll let her pull her wardrobe apart

and let her decide what to wear herself

and she’ll go to kindy in stripes and spots,

pastels and glitter, superhero masks and fairy wings

if she wants.

She’ll go to kindy in cut-off jeans and sneakers, monster truck t-shirts

or pink dresses and clip-on earrings or a mixture of it all

if she wants.

(I will make sure she is warm.)

Kimberley Holmes (tongue in cheek and heart in mouth):

Should I cut off my hair, be a better stereotype

do I owe you, be a better warning of what I happen to be

which team I play?

I’m not some teen boy’s party trick.

I wasn’t playing a game.

David Levithan, reading from Two Boys Kissing:

Love is so painful, how could you ever wish it on anybody?

And love is so essential, how could you ever stand in its way?

CoverIvan E. Coyote, reading from their upcoming book:

I’d have these panic dreams about boys waiting under the backless wooden stairs that led into the portable trailer next to the school where my kindergarten class was held.

I’d have these sweaty, fear-stained dreams of laughing boys looking up my skirt and I couldn’t even kick them properly, because have you ever tried to do a high kick in a long dress? The harder, the higher you kick the faster your one raised leg pulls the other leg out from under you, hot tears on my cheek, my bare thigh all torn up by the gravel and I am quite sure I know many people, even in this room tonight who have perfected a technique to account for the high kick in a long dress phenomenon. But I never did.

ivan004
Ivan E. Coyote. Image supplied.

If you’re upset you missed out on these great words, don’t despair! Sophie Rea, David Levithan and Ivan E. Coyote are speaking at a number of other events this weekend, listed below. I look forward to seeing you there.

Find books in our collection by:

WORD Christchurch