This is a guest interview with 30Traveler, a 30-something New Zealander who writes an anonymous travel blog. She has lived in New Zealand, Brighton (UK) and New York, is bisexual, and has been in a same-sex relationship for the last 12 years.
Q: This week the current New Zealand Prime Minister John Key used the term “gay red shirt” to insult someone. Is that attitude common in New Zealand?
A little bit. New Zealanders are usually polite publicly but sometimes can be prone to making stereotyped comments with their friends. People would usually only say this kind of thing in their own homes. Of course a lot of New Zealanders have positive attitudes too – there has been a “Gay Red Shirt Day” meme going around New Zealanders on Facebook. A segment of NZ do other stereotyping behind closed doors too e.g., people sometimes make stereotyped comments about our indigenous culture like “Maori rugby players are dumber than white rugby players.” Our Prime Minister isn’t usually gaffe prone, but he did also call David Beckham dumb this week.
Institutional discrimination is rare. We have civil unions, and New Zealand has a long history of civil rights e.g., we were the first country in the world to give women the vote in 1893.
Q: What experiences have you had traveling in New Zealand with a same-sex partner?
Generally positive. Gay and lesbian travelers don’t need to hesitate about booking one bed rooms or being open about their relationship with people they meet.
In an article on my own blog I wrote about how accommodation providers sometimes like to delude themselves by referring to my partner and I as mother and daughter (we have an age gap but not big enough to be mother and daughter!)
Occasionally my partner and I get attention from what we’d call “yobbos” or “bogans.” When we’re out having our evening walk together, young guys sometimes yell “lesbians” out the window of their cars and throw eggs. This happens around once a month. We’re not the only targets of the eggs though.
Q: Can you tell us about any queer-run tourism in New Zealand?
A few examples. There is a lesbian owned winery (they offer tastings) about an hour’s drive from Queenstown (http://desertheart.co.nz). A lovely lesbian couple also run a backpackers in Queenstown (http://www.aspenlodge.co.nz/). There is also lesbian-run Criffel Peak View B&B in Wanaka (http://www.criffelpeakview.co.nz/)
Q: For people who might be considering extended travel to New Zealand, what’s it like as a place to live for gay people?
Pretty good. As I said previously, institutional discrimination is rare, so it’s fine to mention your partner if you’re applying for a job in New Zealand etc (Unlike if you’re applying for a job in Singapore).
People will generally invite you and your partner to things, just as they would invite someone’s opposite sex partner. (In NZ, lots of unmarried opposite sex couples use the term partner too).
Culturally, New Zealanders are less extroverted and outspoken than Americans. For example, religion is not really talked about publicly here. That can make the culture feel more accepting than in some parts of the US. Attitudes to gay people are similar to attitudes in liberal US states.
It’s not perfect but people are pretty accepting e.g., my Mom (who is wonderfully supportive) still introduces my partner to people as my “friend.” I’m sure a lot of other gay couples all over the world can relate to that type of thing.
30Traveler is about travel beyond backpacking, with a focus on flashpacker style travel, renting apartments, and vegan/vegetarian travel.