Happy PRIDE Month!

New PRIDE crossing in Karangahape Road,,

There are lots of exciting events in Tāmaki Makaurau during Pride month..

…we started with the SameSameButDifferent Writers’ Festival

The SSBD Literary Festival is the only LGBTQI  Festival of its kind in Australasia- a celebration of Aotearoa’s LGBTQI writing talent.  This is its sixth year- it was founded in 2016 by Peter Wells, who, sadly, died in 2019.  The Peter Wells Memorial Lecture is delivered annually in his honour.

The 2021 theme for the festival was “Home” ,  and what it means to our diverse community.

The outstanding presenter this year, for us, was Kassie Hartendorp (Ngati Raukawa), the new Director of the national online Action Station Network, who delivered the second annual Peter Wells Lecture

Kassie is a powerful  orator, who courageously shared her deep, personal adoption story , and her harrowing search for her identity.  She was embraced at different stages of her journey as a political activist in Wellington by groups such as trade union members,  the Queer community, the Maori kapahaka cultural group;  eventually she found, and was welcomed by, her Ngati Raukawa hapū and whānau.  

She talked about the importance of different generations working together for change.  We enjoyed her company informally at a meal after her event, and were moved  by her genuine interest in our lives as older lesbians, and her curiosity as to how we view the younger LGBTQI + generations. 

She is an extraordinary young woman in her political awareness, her skills as an orator,  and her clarity, warmth and strength.

Other Festival sessions  we attended and enjoyed:

Sisters Gay: Your Loving Friend

Our 2021 literary salon – aka Storytime – for grown-ups and other family, features ardent epistles and juicy journals by ladies (and the odd gent) of letters…

Presenters ( from left: Alison, Peggy, Claire, Adrienne) at the Grey Lynn Library  as part of the Pride Festival , and the samesamebut different  celebration of LGBTQI writing.

The programme featured interesting choices of love letters read by these staff and friends.

And we had a final sing-along with the audience of “Some Enchanted Evening”...popular in the 1940s and 50s, Charmaine remembers.

We also specially appreciated the Sisters Gay 2021 Booklist and Playlist,  which our library staff gave out too!  No doubt if you wanted one the library staff could email it to you...



Joanne Drayton gave a lively and convincing account of Ngaio Marsh‘s life, prolific writing career, and probable lesbian orientation.  Joanne also mentioned some of the obstacles and objections she encountered in researching the story.




Hilary Lapsley and Lois Cox explained  how they write together under the pen name  Jennifer Palgrave, and shared some tasters from their just published  second political crime novel, Rising Tide.


Ahi Karunaharan, award-winning playwright and rightly acclaimed story-teller,  illustrated dramatically how his writing changes as he moves between his two homes in different countries, Sri Lanka and Aotearoa…


Aroha Awarau told a moving story of growing up as a gay boy and experiencing violence and abuse from some in his family and community as a consequence.

He drew strength from his mother, who named him, and he has become an accomplished journalist, broadcaster  and playwright.

His play Provocation has earned many tributes.




Jen Shieff, lesbian crime-writer,  and twice a finalist for the Ngaio Marsh Award, hosted the Crime and Punishment panel, and also contributed a reading from her own work in the “At Home with Samesame”session




Good to see how this festival has grown over the last five years, with more and more support from Auckland’s funding groups, so that all events at this year’s festival were free, and based at the Ellen Melville Hall..

The final event was the naming of the winners of the SSBD Short Story Awards , one for writers under 25 and one for the overall winner

This year, both prizes were awarded to under-25 Wellington writer, Joy Holley, who is currently studying at Victoria University in their International Institute of Modern Letters. 

Double congratulations, Joy Holley!  Obviously a name to look out for…!


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