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July 31, 2017 | by  | in One Ocean |
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One Ocean

I’m going to be honest and say that this is the first time I’ve written a piece about anything even distantly related to LGBTQ+ communities.

Truth is, in regards to sexual orientation and gender, before I came to New Zealand, I didn’t know — and wasn’t allowed to know — much about any person, idea, lifestyle, or preference that was “outside” of the (so-called) “normal” one-man-one-woman-who-have-biological-children ideal.

Is this a cultural ideal? A religious ideal? For me, it was a bit of both. I grew up literally living next door to a church and, of course, that place was an exclusively heteronormative space wherein it was A-Okay to say things like “he’s so gaaaaaaay” as a joke. I know because I used to laugh at that. I laughed because I was taught to laugh. Anyone who didn’t laugh (no matter what their reasons) was supporting whoever was being made fun of. Looking back, I realise how little opportunity I, and a lot of other Pasifika people, are granted to think and reason for themselves. “That’s bad/weird/unnatural” because “it just is.” You don’t get to ask why, and stuff even considering saying “I think you’re wrong and we’re all equal!”

I also feel like the knowledge void that I’m still working to fill was/is a result of years of colonialism, and all the walls, rules, and standards that such a long period of oppression has engrained in a lot of Pasifika societies. Of course, the decolonisation process is ongoing, but I believe we are living in a time where we have increasing opportunities to learn to accept each other and ourselves.

I’m writing this as someone who wants to learn, and who has no excuses anymore for being ignorant.

I need to change.

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