Kamp Camp a Success - 28-Apr-2005
“My Mother made me do it!”
That was the grateful reaction from one of 30 young people who attended the Takatāpui Rangatahui Hui / Queer Youth Camp in Northland during ANZAC weekend.
Organised by the Northland Queer Takatāpui Support Group with assistance from the New Zealand AIDS Foundation, Northland Health and the New Zealand Police (Northland), the camp, according to evaluations from the participants, more than succeeded in its goal of promoting health, hauora/wellbeing, self understanding and self esteem among young gay, lesbian, bisexual, takatāpui and transgender (glbt) people.
“I was scared,” said one young person, who reported huge personal benefit from attending the camp. “I’d never been to any type of gay thing but my Mum convinced me to go!”
“I feel more confident and less hung up about my identity,” said another.
“I met some amazing, inspiring people. (I) had the chance to be gay as I wanted without fear of social constraints, (it was) a good exploration of self,” was another typical comment.
Indeed, said Hau Ora Takatāpui health promoter Jordon Harris, the New Zealand AIDS Foundation’s main organiser for the event, the only criticism of the camp was that it was not long enough and there were not enough of them.
Harris said some threatened local protest about the camp never eventuated and it was good to see so many young people who “arrived with their heads down”, lifting their heads up and gaining confidence as the camp covered activities ranging from the purely fun, to serious issues around HIV and AIDS, glbt history, self awareness and knowledge, and gender issues. Police also attended to talk safety, and the role of their diversity liaison officers.
“Young people came from as far south as Nelson and throughout the North Island to the camp,” Harris said.
“It very clearly demonstrated that a lot of young glbt people out there have issues around isolation, loneliness, self care and health awareness that are not being met by their communities, as they should be. Camps like this clearly help fill that gap by being one the few places where non-heterosexual youth can get together and share and celebrate their lives in a positive, health affirming way.”
Harris said the great thing was that, while some in the Northland community had expressed concerns about the camp, many more supported it. A lot of the expenses associated with it had been met by the Northland QT group through local fundraising, which was well supported.