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Kiwi Pride with a touch of Aussie

by James Bonello

Australians and New Zealanders have a long history of partnership and cooperation.  Our countries are neighbours with friendship firmly rooted in our shared ethics, values, and adorable accents that other English speakers around the world tend to mix up.  Our kinship is clearly evident in our cultural, sporting, and social connections, including our longstanding military partnership, with a strong ANZAC history bridging the Tasman Sea.

Most notably, Aussies and Kiwis are joined by the playful rivalry of close siblings; Aussie jokes refer to New Zealand as being ‘interstate’, while the Kiwis refer to Australia as their ‘west island’.  We poke a bit of fun at each other from time to time, and rather enjoy it, but deep down we know we’re mates and we have each other’s backs.

Our Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex (GLBTI) communities within the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) are no exception.  Aussies and Kiwis are firm mates.

Naturally, when Auckland recently hosted its first Pride festival in more than a decade, the Aussies were chuffed to score an invite.  The city also made New Zealand history with the NZDF, through its GLBTI group OverWatch, taking part and marching in uniform for the first time ever!

Representing DEFGLIS and lending Aussie support for this important event, DEFGLIS members James Bonello and Christopher Snape (RAAF) made the trip over the Tasman, affectionately and excitedly ‘jumping the ditch’ to support our Kiwi mates.

In true Kiwi style, we were immediately and warmly welcomed by the most gracious hosts that any stray Aussies could have hoped for when visiting this spectacular country.  Getting to know our NZDF colleagues - an impressive group ranging across all ranks and services, some quite new to Defence and others with decades of Service experience - we were overwhelmed with a sense of respect and admiration.  These men and women were taking such an important, public step forward for diversity and acceptance. And it was truly a privilege to march alongside them with Pride.

The overwhelmingly positive media coverage beaming across New Zealand reported this monumental achievement for gay pride in the NZDF, and GLBTQ people everywhere. OverWatch members spoke professionally, eloquently, with conviction and courage - and the world listened.

As DEFGLIS and OverWatch continue our ongoing partnership and work to support inclusiveness and diversity in our organisations, on a more personal note from two Aussie visitors to an amazingly historical Auckland Pride, we simply say, Congratulations and WELL DONE!

 

About the Author
Author: Vince Chong
Vince is the President of DEFGLIS. He is a project manager and an electronics engineer.
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