'Gay-friendly' city still discriminates, doco shows
In the midst of Pride Week, Hamilton has been hailed as a fairly gay-friendly city, but some say complacency and the desire to be positive may have swept some issues under the carpet.
Hamilton Pride chair and University of Waikato professor Lynda Johnston said lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people are still discriminated against and still suffer.
Raymond Wilson, 31, works for Inland Revenue and is one of nine men starring in a documentary, Men Like Us, being shown as part of Pride Week.
The documentary reveals discrimination happens not only from outside the gay community but also within it.
"Some of it for me was about body image and that stigmatism with being gay where some people think we have to look a certain way," Mr Wilson said.
He said Hamilton has improved but could do better. He also said LGBT people also needed to appreciate that "it's not always about flaunting it and shoving it down people's throats".
Simon Hinchco, a 23-year-old gay media arts student at Wintec, said Hamilton can be a diverse and accepting place but he has been the victim of abuse, being called a "faggot" and being spat at.
Prof Johnston said people may feel or act like everything is fine but the LGBT community was still being marginalised.
"There's always this desire to be positive and say we've come a long way in terms of liberation but there is still that discrimination and marginalisation happening.
"Being young and LGBT is very hard, particularly in schools, and we know people in our community may suffer from mental illnesses as a result. So these feelings are still there."
It is for that reason that Pride Week exists - to have a positive festival celebrating diversity and raising awareness.
Pride Week runs until Sunday, with the Men Like Us screening wrapping up the week's events.
For more information about Hamilton Pride, Pride Week or Men Like Us, visit www.hamiltonpride.co.nz.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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