Nelsonians is what Nelsonians call people from Nelson…..! I have lived here for a couple of years now but don’t think I have been admitted to the “Nelsonian” club yet. I think you had to come on a particular ship or waka and I just came over on the Interislander.
But since I have been here, I have become very involved with a group of young people called Q-Youth (short for Queer Youth). I have become their patron(ess?) and chair their Board. It all came out of the now famous Nayland Alliance of Gays and Straights (NAGS) at Nayland College, which some years ago made a conscious effort to support its uncertain, enquiring and definitely gay young people. Having taught a boy once in the 1980s who was clearly gay but who left school and within 2 years had committed suicide, I resolved, on hearing of his death, always to support young people wrestling with their sexuality. These young people in Nelson have gathered lots of supportive straights around them (school counsellors, parents, youth workers, etc) to broaden the support base available to them.
Anyway, the brave bit. I recently hung out with these kids as we dragged ourselves around the Saxton Sports Ground as part of the Relay for Life cancer fundraiser. They had decided to do it as a group. 2 of the young men turned up in drag. They got blisters from walking around and around the track in high heels. But that’s not the brave bit. The brave bit was turning up in drag. These boys will probably end up being trannies of one sort or another but I hope they will be able to be themselves, whatever that turns out to be – and be themselves safely, with dignity and self-respect. They turned heads, words were muttered behind hands, looks cast and even some photos taken. The courage it took for me to walk alongside them was nothing compared with their bravery in insisting on being themselves.