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July 23, 2018 | by  | in From the Archives |
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From the Archives

Pachali Brewster wrote the UniQ Queer column for Salient in 2007. I asked her some questions about her column, and changes in the discourse around Queer identities that have occurred in the last decade.
How did you come to be the writer of the Queer column in 2007?
I became the President of UniQ for a bit in 2006, and the following year became the Co-Communications Advisor. One of the tasks for which was writing the Queer column, which I commandeered full responsibility for as I was super keen to write for Salient.
What were the Queer issues that you felt were particularly important to cover at that moment in time? What broader Queer discussions were you contributing to?
I didn’t go in with a particular theme in mind, but in hindsight the content by the guest writers and I boiled down to: the visibility of Queer sexualities, and the diversity therein; gender, and how fluid it is; and the importance of self-acceptance (always relevant).

How visible was the Queer community on the VUW campus at the time? Do you recall if there was much content covering Queer issues in Salient besides your column?
Super visible. We held large social meetings every fortnight and organised Queer movie nights, dance parties, a mentoring partnership with the VUW counselling service, and events at the university for Pride week. We also promoted safe sex, with ample support from the New Zealand AIDS Foundation. I don’t recall if there was any other Queer content in Salient besides my column, probably not, but I did also pull together the Queer Edition that year, which I was particularly proud of.

In terms of Queer representation and acceptance in the media generally, what kind of progress has been made in the last decade? And how far do we have to go?
I can’t speak too much about the media, since I consume much less of it than I used to (although I do wish that trans characters were more normalised and less acted by cis-men who get lauded for their “daring” performances. I also wish there were more bisexual and polyamorous characters casually strewn about in entertainment media. That would be a hoot). But in daily life, I must say: A shit-tonne of progress. Since 2007 we have seen conversations shift from gay and lesbian acceptance to the acceptance of trans and gender-diversity, as well as other unconventional sexualities e.g. asexuality, non-monogamy, and BDSM practitioners thanks to 50 Shades (ironic laughter). My most recent foray into the queer scene was meeting a bunch of young, new drag performers who wanted to start a movement away from one cis-sex parodying the other cis-sex, and towards a more nebulous gender-fuckery performative statement. Revolutionary!

These are conversations I didn’t imagine we’d be having in the future, and it’s been amazing watching humanity continue to evolve as a whole. (Or maybe it’s just because we live in an educated, progressive, Wellingtonian bubble, the privilege of living in which should not escape one’s notice.)
There was a time where we felt like it was a very Us and Them mentality, there was a prevailing feeling of: “Love is normal, no matter who it’s between! Stop persecuting us and let us lead a hassle-free life!”
And now I can honestly say, with profound relief, that my life as an out, pansexual woman in two non-monogamous relationships with a trans woman and a kinky, queer man is so much easier than it would have been even 10 years ago. And for that I am truly grateful, to all the people who paved the way for us in the past, and to all the people continuing to pave the way into the future.

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