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March 31, 2014 | by  | in Opinion |
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Rāwinia Thompson, Academic Vice-President

In my job as AVP, I’ve been affectionately dubbed “Vice-President of boring and serious”. I deal with a lot of documents, attend a lot of long meetings, and write a lot of submissions. It takes me back to the first submission I ever wrote; it wasn’t a thoroughly researched ten-pager as per usual, but instead a short story written to the Select Committee about how my life might be made a little easier if the Marriage Equality Bill was passed. I was in my last year at high school, had just turned 18, and a few years earlier had realised I liked girls.

I joke about belonging to the “trifecta of minorities” as a queer Māori gal, but real life isn’t always as feelgood as a snappy line for my Twitter bio. I was lucky to have grown up in the queer capital, Wellington City; I went to a fairly accepting all-girls’ high school; I have supportive parents who love me no matter what, even after they sat me down at age 15 having just returned home from my then girlfriend’s house, and asked if I had “anything to tell” them; I came out to my sister when she was only ten years old, and she has been proudly telling her school friends that her older sister likes girls ever since.

I’ve never had short hair, because I’m not nearly hip enough to pull that off, and – in case you didn’t know – I’m quite fond of my hair. I have a thing for this girl right now who has fantastic curly hair, which is hurting my hair pride a bit. I’ve been told I don’t look like a girl who likes girls. It hasn’t exactly been easy, but I’m aware that coming out could have been much, much harder.

Marriage Equality night is one night I’ll remember for the rest of my life. A queer friend of mine was working in Parliament at the time, and got us into the gallery for the third reading of the Marriage Equality Bill. We laughed during Maurice Williamson’s iconic gay rainbow speech; we cried tears of joy; we sang ‘Pokarekare Ana’; we saw history made as a law was passed which meant that, one day, we and other queer people like us could get married too. That same friend and I were at a function where Louisa Wall, the MP who sponsored the Marriage Equality Bill, was also in attendance. We drunkenly hugged her and thanked her for everything, for all the work she and her colleagues had done to make our Aotearoa a safer, more inclusive, loving and accepting place for Kiwis of all colours – including rainbow Kiwis – to live in.

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