The Tron NZ's gay capital?

SIENA YATES
Last updated 10:20 09/11/2012

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Mardi Gras could be coming to town if Hamilton Pride succeeds in a new bid to make the city the gay capital of New Zealand, and they're challenging the council to help make it happen.

Lynda Johnston and Hamilton Pride hold Pride Week every year as a way to ''fight the heterosexual norm'', and said if they can build up more momentum they can put the city on the map.

''This identity is something that one has to work for and work on. We know that Sydney is famous for the gay and lesbian mardi gras and that's a world famous event.

 For Hamilton, it's slightly tongue and cheek because we're also pointing to the fact that we're a very conservative part of New Zealand, so we're trying to move that along ,'' Ms Johnston said.

While Pride Week continues to grow each year, Ms Johnston said there is still more to be done, and would be helped hugely by backing from the Hamilton City Council.

''The Hero Parade is happening in Auckland for the first time in years, and that's happening because the council has got behind it. You do need support from the institutes that run cities to change behaviour and create places that are inclusive.''

She said a Hamilton mardi gras or Hero Parade equivalant could be on the cards if the council and other groups got behind it.

''We think we offer something uniquely different here...that's not got that big city feel but has a Hamilton feel about it. It would be quite a vibrant city with that kind of input,'' she said.

''Its a challenge to say there's nothing stopping us, we could be the gay capital of New Zealand. Not just a place with fabulous events for Pride Week, but also a place where your every day lifestyle is accepted. We'd get a reputation for being a gay friendly place, whether we're the capital or not.''

Councillor Daphne Bell said the council supported an inclusive community which values and does not discrimnate against its members and groups.

However, with no formal approaches or suggested action to make them reality, it was too soon to comment.

Lynda Johnston will deliver a lecture on this subject called, ''Proud people and places or just more Riff Raff? The spatial politics of Gay Pride'', which Councillor Bell said she will attend.

The lecture is at 6pm, November 20 at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts at Waikato University.

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