Lexie Matheson talks to express about her nomination for Senior New Zealander of the Year and her take on Auckland Pride.
It would be fair to say Lexie Matheson’s nomination as Senior New Zealander of Year couldn’t have come at a better time for the veteran Trans activist.
Matheson, who last year resigned from the Auckland Pride Board has been a vocal supporter of the board’s decision to ban uniformed police officers from participating in this year’s parade and has attracted attention for it.
The nomination for Senior New Zealander of the Year came as a surprise at the end of what Matheson says was a “rough year for a lot of people.”
After hearing she had been shortlisted, Matheson said she “ was gobsmacked then and even more so when I eventually saw the company I was in: so many people I’d admired for so long – Dame Kate Harcourt and Sue Kedgley to name just a couple – but others too, obviously.”
Matheson says the award is also a reflection of the help she has received on her journey.
“It’s an amazing honour that’s been accorded me now I’m in my mid 70’s, but seldom on my journey have I been alone so this is also a reflection on the work of countless others too.”
The nomination for Senior New Zealander of the Year follows Matheson receiving a New Zealander of the Year ‘Local Hero’ award in November.
The awards ceremony was a ‘humbling’ experience for Matheson. “Listening to 40+ citations outlining the work of so many amazing community contributors made me realise how reliant we all are on the goodwill of tireless – often faceless – people who give so much. My contribution felt slight compared when compared to many of the others.”
On the attention she has received over the Auckland Pride board’s police uniform ban, Matheson says she is incredibly sad about Auckland Pride and the ugliness that’s permeated the legacy that’s been created over the past six years.”
While Matheson left the Pride board in February she did so saying after a festival she was “really proud of.”
“I’d seen new pathways opened up and greater opportunities made available for unique queer expression and that was deeply satisfying.”
That changed after the community debate over the ban on uniformed police participating in this year’s parade with Matheson saying, “a political gap between diverse factions that has since blown up” although she says the divide is over more than just the police ban.
The parade has subsequently lost ATEED funding and is being replaced with a smaller-scale march, according to a number of media reports.
“What was originally an issue of police marching in uniform seems to have become a more visceral battle between the political right and the left, between the need for activism and a desire for inclusion without question. At the heart of this, there seems to be a shared refusal to understand.”
Matheson says she stayed away from the community hui but, “had read the debate and the personal ugliness has distressed me.”
Matheson issues a plea to all those in the LGBT community to “ensure that Pride events continue to be safe for everyone and that the needs of our most vulnerable remain in the forefront of community thinking.”
“We need to heal and there’s no doubt that this will take time – and respect. I’d like to hope that, out of this chaos, will grow a new and appropriate contemporary model that enables us all to express our hopes and dreams in creative ways that will advance everything queer.”