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The Pink Triangle

The Pink Triangle was a publication focused on strengthening the gay liberation movement. It provided a platform for radical issues in New Zealand such as queer rights, Māori land rights, abortion, feminism and much more.

The Pink Triangle was a lesbian and gay newspaper published in New Zealand by the National Gay Rights Coalition of New Zealand (NGRC). Beginning officially in May 1979, original editors Hugh Gaw and Jan Gee chose the name to identify with the persecution of gays and lesbians during the Holocaust by the Nazis. The symbol had moved “from a symbol of degradation to a symbol, it has been adopted by the international gay community as a symbol of pride.”[1] Having chosen their name, they sought to spread their message throughout the gay community in New Zealand and raise political awareness for liberated gays and lesbians.

Pink Triangle’s pages were littered with advertisements and notices for other lesbian and gay groups throughout New Zealand and the world. The National Gay Rights Coalition advertised the names and locations of their constituent groups throughout New Zealand and how often they met, in an effort to build their network and membership.[3] Pink Triangle also attempted to build more global coalitions and look beyond lesbian and gay activism in New Zealand. Their subscription notices list prices for both the United Kingdom and the United States, aiming to grow and support gay movements abroad. They also published news about homosexuality in different countries, spanning from warrants for the arrest of Ayatollah Khomeini to news about homosexuality in China and London.[4]  

An image calling on lesbians to unite appearing alongside a lesbian-separatist piece in the Pink Triangle. Credit for all images in this article goes to Pink Triangle.

Because Pink Triangle drew its ideas and theory from US gay liberation, feminism formed an important part of its ethos in the earliest issues. Attempts to give equal weight to lesbian and gay issues are clear, as well as the institutional setting of having two editors, one gay man and one lesbian woman. The editors noted “we now have two editors… this is an encouraging move in the co-operation of all gay people against the fight against the oppression of sexism.”[5] This coalition did not always produce a fruitful or cordial alliance. Reflecting earlier patterns of lesbian-feminist separatism in the United States, lesbian feminists who read Pink Triangle challenged gay men on their sexism, and at one point issued a stark warning to gay men “unless male homosexuals seriously consider the questions lesbian-feminists are posing, there can be no united homosexual movement.”[6]

Commitment to a wide range of radical causes at the time permeated the pages of Pink Triangle, including radical and lesbian feminism but also environmental conservation, Māori land rights, and international student rights. In a tirade against the government’s ignorance of a Human Rights Commission report, the editors railed against the “anti-woman laws on abortion, the government’s vicious activities on Māori land rights, and racist policies on fees for international students.”[7] They also published contact details for groups like Greenpeace, making clear their commitment to a broad range of issues that intersected but were not explicitly linked to their own cause.[8]

A cover of Pink Triangle from 1985 featuring Labour MP Fran Wilde, sponsor of the Homosexual Law Reform Bill. (Credit for image goes to Pink Triangle.)

Pink Triangle also published material in support of trans rights groups, promoting separate trans groups seeking to achieve their own goals, rather than direct coalition-building with them. They reproduced materials from Hedesthia, a trans rights groups in New Zealand, and provided clear information for their readers who might not have understood trans issues as well as they did homosexuality.[9] Hedesthia’s messaging focused on the constructed nature of gender and its separateness from sex, helping to break down male-female dichotomies within the gay community. Over the years the style and print variety of Pink Triangle changed significantly as editors and priorities changed. Throughout the mid-1980s, Pink Triangle published a large amount of coverage of the homosexual law reform bill, to shore up support for the bill and encourage people to come out in support.[10]

A Glossy Front Cover of Pink Triangle from the early 1990s, clearly marketed towards gay men. (Credit for the image goes to Pink Triangle.)

In other periods it focused more on society and culture, rather than explicit political engagement, with issues on the cover not advertising political activity but rather “an erotic guide to gay men” and “Italianissimo! Food and Fashion”.[11] Over time, Pink Triangle shifted to produce a much more holistic guide to gay and lesbian life in New Zealand, a sharp change from their radical political origins. Feminism became less prominent in Pink Triangle as time went on. The emphasis on gay male lifestyle after 1986 meant that little of the content was concerned with lesbian life, as some pointed out in letters to the editor.[12] But in its beginnings Pink Triangle blazed a radical gay liberationist trail, linking homosexual oppression to patriarchal oppression and attempting to build radical coalitions with like-minded people to achieve positive outcomes. Though it followed the commercial trends of the later 1980s and liberalization of gay politics generally, it made a significant contribution to promoting a litany of radical gay and lesbian voices in the early 1980s.


Liam Perkins
Liam Perkins

I’m Liam, I am 23, currently working on my MA project in US queer history in the 1970s.
I got involved with WHNZ to learn more about New Zealand history and contribute material to a database that would help others do so, as well as practice writing for different audiences. I really enjoy being able to learn and write about new topics on regular basis and helping others to do so.

Recommended Further Reading:

Else, Anne (ed.) Women Together: a History of Women’s Organisations in New Zealand. Ngā Rōpū Wāhine o te Motu, Daphne Brasell Associates Press and Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington, 1993, p 98-99

Rowland, Robyn (ed) Women Who Do and Women Who Don’t Join the Women’s Movement: London: Routledge Kegan Paul: 1984

 ‘Connie Purdue’ New Zealand History https://nzhistory.govt.nz/media/photo/connie-purdue Ministry for Culture and Heritage, updated 4 Nov 2020 (retrieved 5 July 2021)

Bibliography:
  • Atmore, Chris, ‘Lesbians and PT.” Pink Triangle, October 1988.
  • Bebbington, Laurie, Lyons, Margaret, ‘Homosexuality and Feminism.’ Pink Triangle, 6 August 1979.
  • Gautlett, Sandy, ‘Greenpeace and Project Jonah.’ Pink Triangle, May 1980.
  • Gaw, Hugh, Gee, Jan, ‘Editorial.’ Pink Triangle, 14 May 1979.
  • Hedesthia. Pink Triangle, August 1979.
  • Pink Triangle, 25 May 1979.
  • Pink Triangle, 29 October 1979.
  • Pink Triangle, August 1987.
  • NA, ‘Gays, Dykes Hit Back.’ Pink Triangle, June 1985.
  • Waghorne, Mike, ‘“Human Rights” Commission.’ Pink Triangle, March 1980.
Reference List:

[1] Hugh Gaw, Jan Gee, ‘Editorial.’ Pink Triangle, 14 May 1979. p. 2.

[2] Pink Triangle, 25 May 1979. p. 1.

[3] Pink Triangle, 25 May 1979. p. 8.

[4] Pink Triangle, 29 October 1979. p. 6.

[5] Hugh Gaw, Jan Gee, ‘Editorial.’ Pink Triangle, 14 May 1979. p. 2.

[6] Laurie Bebbington, Margaret Lyons, ‘Homosexuality and Feminism.’ Pink Triangle, 6 August 1979. p. 2.

[7] Mike Waghorne, ‘“Human Rights” Commission.’ Pink Triangle, March 1980. p. 3.

[8] Sandy Gautlett, ‘Greenpeace and Project Jonah.’ Pink Triangle, May 1980. p. 3.

[9] Hedesthia. Pink Triangle, August 1979. p. 7.

[10] NA, ‘Gays, Dykes Hit Back.’ Pink Triangle, June 1985. p. 2.

[11] Pink Triangle, August 1987. p. 1.

[12] Chris Atmore, ‘Lesbians and PT.” Pink Triangle, October 1988. p. 47.

Image Bibliography:
  1. Pink Triangle’s First Logo. (Credit for image goes to Pink Triangle.)
  2. An image calling on lesbians to unite appearing alongside a lesbian-separatist piece in PT. (Credit for image goes to Pink Triangle.)
  3. A cover of Pink Triangle from 1985 featuring Labour MP Fran Wilde, sponsor of the Homosexual Law Reform Bill. (Credit for image goes to Pink Triangle.)
  4. A Glossy Front Cover of Pink Triangle from the early 1990s, clearly marketed towards gay men. (Credit for image goes to Pink Triangle.)

Published: September 16, 2021

Last modified: January 5th, 2022

Cite as: Liam Perkins, The Pink Triangle, Womens History of New Zealand, Last modified January 2022, https://atomic-temporary-193744190.wpcomstaging.com/the-pink-triangle/

Categories
Luisa Dewar

Christchurch Girls Are Sick of Your S*** – Sexual Assault and Christchurch girls

How vandalism at Christchurch Boys’ High school launched a new community of fourth-wave activists. How women get heard.

Sexual assault. Sexual harassment. Rape. These are problems women have always had to face. These problems don’t just occur in dark alleys at night. What the chalking of Christchurch Boys’ High school has proven is that these issues are also part of everyday life. On March 21st 2021[1] three members of Christchurch Girls High School (CGHS) vandalised Christchurch Boys High School (CBHS). They chalked statements about consent, sexual harassment and LGBTQ+ issues on the walls and footpaths of CBHS. The chalked statements were subsequently taken down on the Monday immediately following. Not by staff, but by students of CBHS.

Chalk Statements

Photos from : ‘Graffiti at Christchurch Boys’ High School highlights Rainbow and women’s rights‘. By Hanna McCallum and Jody O’Callaghan.

Prior to the chalking CGHS students had reached out for support from their school administration over these issues[2]. The ‘vandalism’ was an attempt to raise the issues these CGHS students were facing.  This was the result of a final straw moment as you will. This was not an unprovoked rage of the moment action. The chalking was planned, as said by one of the vandals. “We were sick of not being listened to so we decided to do something CBHS had no choice but to see. Personally, CGHS is full of people I absolutely love and adore, and almost everyone I know at CGHS has a story about harassment or assault. It’s really just heartbreaking. It was sort of a ‘we’ve had enough, you WILL listen’ type of moment. We made the plan on Friday after doing some legal research as to what we could and couldn’t do and went to CBHS on Sunday. “[3]

After the chalking, the vandals started an Instagram account named ‘chchgirlsaresickofyourshit‘ (later known as culturechchange). The account was to raise awareness of sexual assaults faced by CGHS students. This was quickly met with backlash from both CBHS and CGHS students. The account quickly amassed followers. The vandalism quickly raised media attention. News organisations began covering the event. One example is this article published on Stuff ‘Graffiti at Christchurch Boys’ High School highlights Rainbow and women’s rights by Hanna McCallum and Jody O’Callaghan.

‘Trans Lives Matter’

‘I hereby claim this school property of the queers (yeah)’

‘Our bodies are not up for discussion’

‘Its chalk it washes off, but memories stay for life’

‘97%’

‘Protect your daughter educate your son’

‘not all men but nearly all women’

‘boobs ≠ consent’

Examples of the chalk statements on CBHS

The vandals received no formal punishment from CGHS[4], with the administration sympathizing with the vandals message. Actions were then taken by CGHS and CBHS to address the vandals concerns. Both schools worked together to address these issues. CGHS immediately held an assembly to address the chalking. While they renounced the vandals actions, they also made effort to make clear they can offer support.[5] Opening up communication lines that were not there before. CGHS also allowed a protest on schoolgrounds over sexual assault. This protest attracted large media attention.

CBHS also had an assembly after the chalking, to try address the behaviors exhibited by CBHS students. The CBHS School Board also had a meeting with the vandals, in which the vandals concerns were formally raised with the administration. Individual teachers at both schools also made their own actions. Some teachers were supportive of the vandals cause, others were against. At CGHS some teachers tried to get students to unfollow the vandals Instagram account. At CBHS, some teachers tried to discourage students from following the new anti accounts against CGHS Instagram. Across both schools there was varied opinions, just as there was varied opinion amongst the students. After the chalking vandalism what emerged, was a new community working together to make cultural change. ‘chchgirlsaresickofyourshit‘ would continue to engage with political activism through protest, talks, Instagram activism and further chalking (for a fundraiser for the Battered Women’s Trust).


Luisa Dewar
Luisa Dewar

Kia ora, I’m Luisa. WHNZ is my passion project turned into a reality. I thought it up one day in a history class, then with some hard mahi and awesome people it became a reality.

Recommended Further Reading:

Bibliograhy:
Reference List:

[1] Instagram post, https://www.instagram.com/culturechchange

[2] interview with the vandals

[3]interview with the vandals

[4] interview with the vandals

[5] CGHS informant

Image Bibliography:

All photos from ‘Graffiti at Christchurch Boys’ High School highlights Rainbow and women’s rights‘. By Hanna McCallum and Jody O’Callaghan. https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/124616763/graffiti-at-christchurch-boys-high-school-highlights-rainbow-and-womens-rights.

Published: August 20th, 2021

Last modified: January 5th, 2022

Cite as: Luisa Dewar, Christchurch Girls Are Sick of Your S*** – Sexual Assault and Christchurch girls , Womens History of New Zealand, Last modified January 2022, https://atomic-temporary-193744190.wpcomstaging.com/christchurch-girls-are-sick-of-your-s—sexual-assault-and-christchurch-girls/

Categories
Liam Perkins

The Topp Twins

The Topp Twins – Musicians, Comedians, Activists.

Lynda and Jools Topp, better known as the Topp Twins are a musical performing duo hailing from Huntly. The twin sisters, known for their eclectic[1]  sense of humour and musical style which incorporates yodelling and elements of country, originally got their start performing at gigs in Christchurch before becoming involved in the feminist movement in the late 1970s.[1]

Their musical style derives from a mix of old Australian yodel music from the 1930s, difficult to get a hold of when the twins were growing up in the small farming town of Huntly.[2] The Twins learned their singing and yodelling craft alongside horse riding and farming, adding to their earthy sense of style and humour.[3] Their feminist politics and sexuality, as well as their distinct sense of humour, have been a part of their performances since the late 1970s. Though they originally began performing musically as a duo, they expanded rapidly to include skits and other performances during their shows.[4] The Twins wrote and performed the track Freedom for the 1978 United Women’s Convention, demonstrating their second wave feminist consciousness and activism. Jools Topp stated in 1980 that “‘Freedom’ is a real fighting song, a powerful song. We only sing it when we’re doing a women’s concert or when there are other women on stage.”[5]

The Topp Twins performing in support of lesbian and gay rights. Source: Stuff. https://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/tv-radio/95592642/topp-twins-lives-laid-bare-on-the-walls-of-te-manawa

The song encompassed much of what second wave feminism was about in New Zealand in the late 1970s and 1980s, with the emphasis on women’s freedom and power to do anything.[6] The Twins also wrote songs that dealt explicitly with their lesbianism, such as Paradise, and other feminist anthems such as Sisterhood, which boldly stated “Bring all the ladies together/Bring ’em all together to be strong/We’ll give you something worth fighting for/We’ve been fighting for nothing too long/And it’s called sisterhood/Yes, it’s called sisterhood.”[7] Their country style music blended with their sense of humour has engaged audiences the world over, including in Australia, the UK, the US, and Canada. They have also forayed into television and often performed as a host of different characters in their performances, shifting “character, musical style and gender with ease.”[10] Their host of rotating characters and performances have included a range of satirized people from New Zealand culture, including urban/rural blokes, camping ground operators, ‘posh’ socialites, and bowling ladies.

A 2009 film, Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls, told the story of the Twins life on their 50th birthdays. The film, “ Part concept film, part biopic, part historical record and part comedy”, directed by Leanne Pooley, shared the links between the Topp Twins’ personalities, activism, performances, and symbols of New Zealand culture, while displaying their wide range of characters and styles of performance.[11] The Topp Twins have won a range of accolades throughout their long career. In 2008 they were inducted into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame, and in 2011 granted honorary doctorates from the University of Waikato. In 2018, Queen Elizabeth II made the Topp Twins Dame Companions of the New Zealand Order of Merit for their services to entertainment.[12] The Topp Twins’ long-term success derives from their unique sense of humour, shifting characters and creativity, advocacy on a range of important social issues, and versatility in a wide variety of media.

The Topp Twins in character as Ken and Ken. Source: https://topptwins.com/pages/about-us

For the Topp Twins, moving around New Zealand and later the world provided thrilling opportunities to engage with a wide range of people and the chance to engage in feminist politics, particularly lesbian feminist politics, a strong issue in the late 1970s.[8] The Topp Twins’ artistry and politics have never been fully separated, and the twins were involved in a range of political causes, especially in the 1980s, including the Springbok Tour Protests, anti-nuclear NZ campaigns, and homosexual law reform. During the late 1990s, the Topp Twins moved into television programming with Do Not Adjust Your Twinset, which captivated audiences with its distinct mix of characters, which the Twins also performed as in live shows, and enabled them to reach a wide range of audiences outside of New Zealand. Do Not Adjust Your Twinset ran for three seasons, winning awards across New Zealand and Australia.[9]

The Topp Twins have made an undeniable impact on New Zealand media and their creative play with gender and sexuality in performance has normalized queer identities for the wider New Zealand public, especially in the 1980s when both the AIDS crisis and homosexual law reform were at their most contentious.[13 The Topp Twins are still active today, still performing and speaking out about a range of contemporary issues, including water rights and preservation, cancer issues, and leading in organizing events such as the Busker’s festival.


Liam Perkins
Liam Perkins

I’m Liam, I am 23, currently working on my MA project in US queer history in the 1970s.
I got involved with WHNZ to learn more about New Zealand history and contribute material to a database that would help others do so, as well as practice writing for different audiences. I really enjoy being able to learn and write about new topics on regular basis and helping others to do so.

Recommended Further Reading:

Bibliography:

Image Bibliography:
  1. The Topp Twins in the early 1980s. Source: RNZ https://www.rnz.co.nz/programmes/ours/story/2018647507/the-topp-twins-and-the-dolls
  2. The Topp Twins in the early 1980s. Source: RNZ https://www.rnz.co.nz/programmes/ours/story/2018647507/the-topp-twins-and-the-dolls
  3. The Topp Twins performing in support of lesbian and gay rights. Source: Stuff. https://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/tv-radio/95592642/topp-twins-lives-laid-bare-on-the-walls-of-te-manawa
  4. The Topp Twins in character as Ken and Ken. Source: https://topptwins.com/pages/about-us

Published: August 6th, 2021

Last modified: January 5th, 2022

Cite as: Tim McVicar, Connie Purdue – Activist and “Anti-Feminist”, Womens History of New Zealand, Last modified January 2022, https://womenshistorynz.com/connie-purdue/


Categories
Izzy France

Fran Wilde

Fran Wilde, distinguished politician, social campaigner, business advisor, and activist. The woman who introduced the Homosexual Law Reform Bill to Parliament

Fran Wilde, born in Wellington in 1948, is a distinguished politician, social campaigner, business advisor, and activist. Wilde spent her early life in Wellington, attending Victoria University and Polytechnic and becoming a journalist before an intense passion for social issues in New Zealand in the 1970s propelled her into the political realm.[1]

Wilde was elected to Parliament as the MP for Wellington Central in 1981, entering Parliament alongside other leading women including Helen Clark and Ruth Richardson. She served as Parliamentary whip in the fourth Labour government between 1984 and 1987 and served as Minister of Tourism and Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control during Geoffrey Palmer’s prime minister-ship from 1989-1990. During her time in Parliament, Wilde advocated strongly for recognition of rape with marriage, a strongly feminist driven reform, nuclear free NZ, and adoption reform.[2]

Wilde (left) during her term as Wellington’s mayor. Source: National Library. https://natlib.govt.nz/records/22892824

Wilde is best known for her landmark achievement in introducing and heralding the Homosexual Law Reform Bill through Parliament between 1985 and 1986, which legalized consensual sex for homosexuals over the age of 16 in New Zealand. Wilde stated that she viewed it as a significant gap in New Zealand’s human rights laws, a long standing problem from Victorian colonial era laws concerning sex.

Considering the work needed to pass the bill, Wilde noted that “I don’t think we realized how big the reaction would be, we knew there would be a negative reaction, but I don’t think anyone realized how massive, and nasty, and vindictive it would be, it was truly ugly.”[3] Wilde battled with a team of Labour MPs to get the bill over the line in an 18 month campaign which saw many of New Zealand’s social conservatives mobilize and attack the gay community in virulently homophobic attacks, and with low levels of public and parliamentary support, the bill faced a narrow chance of passage from the outset.[4]

Alongside Trevor Mallard, who worked to help secure the votes and keep a running tally of the MPs who had pledged to vote for the law, and others such as Helen Clark and Michael Cullen, the bill successfully proceeded through its second reading and committee stages before passing after a third reading with 49 votes for and 44 against on 9 July 1986.[5] Wilde noted in 2016 that if 3 people had changed their minds, the bill would not have succeeded.[6]

Wilde with Governor General Patsy Reddy in 2017. Source: Office of the Governor General. https://gg.govt.nz/images/honourabledame-fran-wilde-wellingtondnzm-services-state-and-community

Though Wilde is perhaps best known for her shepherding the HLRB, her career in politics has spanned far beyond her parliamentary service between 1981 and 1992. In 1992, Wilde resigned from Parliament so that she could run for mayor of Wellington, an election she won with 32.91% of the vote to become Wellington’s first female mayor.[7]

During her single term as Wellington’s Mayor between 1992 and 1995, Wilde oversaw the construction of the city-to-sea bridge, the adoption of the current city slogan “absolutely positively Wellington” and helped carry through the plans for the construction of Westpac stadium. At the completion of her mayoral term Wilde decided to step away from politics, citing a need for more personal time, but would later serve on the Wellington regional council from 2004-2016, marking a uniquely lengthy career in local politics for someone who had previously been an MP.[8]

Throughout her career in politics, Wilde has been at the forefront of a number of social changes, advocating firmly for social justice issues at all levels of government. Her work on the Homosexual Law Reform Bill continues to benefit New Zealanders, and as she noted “Had the Christian fundamentalist lobby been successful they would have just moved in a big wave across a whole lot of other issues as well and that would have set New Zealand society back hugely.”[9]

Outside of politics, Wilde has served on numerous business, public, and corporate boards, including Housing New Zealand, Kiwi Can Do, a service that helps to get unemployed New Zealanders into skilled work, and the board of Te Papa, the national museum.[10] As recognition of her long service to the New Zealand public in a range of capacities, Wilde was made a Dame of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to the State and the community.[11] Wilde is still active in a number of roles in governance and community work and was honored for her efforts in passing the Homosexual Law Reform Bill at a panel with Trevor Mallard, the only current MP involved in the passage of the bill in 1986.


Liam Perkins
Liam Perkins

I’m Liam, I am 23, currently working on my MA project in US queer history in the 1970s.
I got involved with WHNZ to learn more about New Zealand history and contribute material to a database that would help others do so, as well as practice writing for different audiences. I really enjoy being able to learn and write about new topics on regular basis and helping others to do so.

Recommended Further Reading:

Bibliography:

Image Bibliography:
  1. Marilyn Waring: A woman’s view of parliament from 1975 to 1984 | Stuff.co.nz. Fran Wilde seen with Marilyn Waring https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/112579830/marilyn-waring-a-womans-view-of-parliament-from-1975-to-1984
  2. Mayor of Wellington, Fran Wilde, with… | Items | National Library of New Zealand | National Library of New Zealand (natlib.govt.nz) https://natlib.govt.nz/records/22892824
  3. Wilde with Governor General Patsy Reddy in 2017. Source: Office of the Governor General. The HonourableDame Fran Wilde, of Wellington,DNZM, for services to the State and the community | The Governor-General of New Zealand (gg.govt.nz) https://gg.govt.nz/images/honourabledame-fran-wilde-wellingtondnzm-services-state-and-community

Published: August 6th, 2021

Last modified: November 6th, 2021

Cite as: Liam Perkins, “Fran Wilde”, Womens History of New Zealand, Last modified November 2021, https://atomic-temporary-193744190.wpcomstaging.com/fran-wilde-new-zealand-campaigner/