My day job entails providing human rights advice to New Zealand's Chief Human Rights Commissioner, Professor Paul Hunt, in the area of SOGIESC. My role uses human rights laws and principles – such as the right to be free from discrimination – to address the issues LGBTQI+ communities still face.
Starting out as a leader for LGBTQI+ advocacy
When I was first coming out and getting involved in LGBTQI+ advocacy and activism, I saw first-hand that everyone had something to contribute, especially those who I disagreed with. Working together in a collaborative, non-hierarchical, and fun way made me a more open-minded person.
When I was coming out many years ago, there was much less visibility than there is now of openly queer and transgender people like me. If we don’t see our stories and our lives celebrated publicly and joyfully, we can feel isolated and begin to doubt ourselves. In my own life, being strong in my identity has required a great deal of diplomacy and the ability to deal with antagonistic opinions. It has also given me both a strong sense of social justice and a profound sense of gratitude to the freedoms and opportunities I enjoy.
Applying the Core and Flex principle
One of the most useful and tangible things I learnt during my Common Purpose programme was the concept of Core and Flex. The programme shook me out of my comfort zone, and the connections I made with other young leaders from across the world challenged my thinking in a positive way. I was so humbled to be part of the experience and feel certain that it contributed to future jobs and opportunities.
The LGBTQI+ community's 'thin-crust pizza' approach to leadership
Most of the social change work in LGBTQI+ communities is done by unpaid activists on weekends and late at night after our day jobs. Together we organize, lead, and strategize to make a very small amount of resource go a long way. A friend of mine describes this as the 'thin-crust pizza' approach!
I see community leadership all around me. It reminds me to think about who has access to a microphone and who doesn't. The issues facing LGBTQI+ people are intersectional: racism, climate change, abortion rights and bodily autonomy are all LGBTQI+ issues. Showing solidarity across different movements will help us all get to a fairer and more just society faster. Shared goodwill has more power than division.
'Nothing about us without us.' Our communities need to be resourced to help develop solutions. After all, the community exists to help individuals remember their purpose: our common purpose.