Last year I got to a point where I had said yes so many times that I had no time for myself and I was constantly working for everyone else. At the beginning of this year I made sure that I would focus on me and do the things I wanted to do. I want to make sure that whatever volunteer work I do this year doesn’t overwhelm me, and aligns with my own beliefs and values.
Keeping those things in mind, one of my last big projects I am doing is the youth rep role for Wellington Pride. My goal when setting up the role and joining the committee was to make sure that the committee was a safe space for young people and that in future there wouldn’t need to be a youth rep role because everything Wellington Pride did would just be youth friendly. It wouldn’t mean there wouldn’t be an after party or R18 events, it would just mean that meetings would be held in safe accessible space and young people would be respected and listened to.
Unfortunately these things haven’t occurred, and I stopped attending committee meetings last year in November. I have focused on youth events and the people around me who could support myself and the events we wanted to create. I’m writing this post to say that I have stepped down from the Wellington Pride committee, and the only events I have had say in are youth based ones I helped organise. Any decisions to do with the Parade or Out In The Park I haven’t had any say in. The one conversation I was vocal in last year was whether corrections should be apart of the parade or not. I have always been against corrections having any place in our Pride events. I resigned before the committee voted on whether they should be a part of Pride or not, and unfortunately it looks like corrections will be walking in the parade. Regardless I hope everyone has a happy and safe Pride.
2016 has been a rollercoaster of a year both on a personal and general level. Personally I have experienced some really amazing highs, but also really bad lows as well. This is what you should expect in life, and it’s how we look after ourselves when we get to those lows that’s really important.
My year started out with a self care holiday, but during this holiday I was also a part of a team organising the ILGA Oceania PROUD conference, and the Youth pre-conference to go with it. So as you can tell, I struggled with the concept of stepping back and relaxing and looking after myself. Luckily as the year progressed that changed, and I got to a point where I needed to step back from things because it was affecting so many other parts of my life.
I don’t really have the time to list out everything I have done this year, but instead I will highlight some key achievements. This way I can talk about the highs and the lows of the year and what I have leant from them.
I was on the organising team for ILGA Oceania Conference: PROUD 2016. This was an amazing opportunity, because it was the first time I helped organise a major conference on much more of an international platform. It came with a lot of challenges but it was definitely something I enjoyed and learnt a lot from. From this experience I also met so many amazing new people who have helped support me and the work I am doing.
I met with organisers from Wellington Pride Festival, which I want to highlight. From this meeting several major outcomes have occurred for Wellington Pride Festival. Firstly they now have a range of flags representing an array of identities, not just the rainbow flag. Secondly, it meant I got to join the organising team for Wellington Pride 2017. I got to join as a youth representative and we are currently working towards organising some amazing events for young people.
I organised and ran the kitchen at Shift Hui which is a national hui run and organised by InsideOUT. Shift Hui 2016 hosted 160 people. This was the first time I had to step back and just accept I couldn’t do everything. I organised and ran the kitchen which went very well, but lots of others things happened and it was very stressful which in turn created a domino effect in my volunteer life.
I have run several education workshops for various organisations and local groups. These include a national PE and Health conference, workshops at local schools, and the Commonwealth Young Leaders conference: These were all really great opportunities; reaching out to people and educating them and watching the aha! moments never gets old. This is particularly so when working with young people and just seeing them smile and knowing that their identity is valid and being recognised.
I have attended several conferences in Auckland, Wellington, Palmerston North, and Bangkok!!! Traveling is always fun, and the fact that I got to go to Bangkok as well was so amazing. Through each trip I have met new people, caught up with old friends, seen spectacular sights, had fun, and done a smidge of shopping. Shout out to my friend Laura (http://nzbloggers.co.nz) who has a bed waiting for me whenever I am in Auckland and is always there to help and support me.
One of my favourite things is working with people and organisations on what they aren’t doing well and working out ways to strengthen their events. This year I worked with several organisations to help do just that. Of course it is up to each organisation which suggestions they take on board, and while some have not listened, it’s exciting to see where these events and organisations will go in 2017.
I did a handful of media projects, some were for friends and others were for “mainstream” media outlets. I’m not a fan of the media and sharing my story, but I don’t like the media speaking with and manipulating vulnerable young people so I would rather offer up myself then pass it on to someone else. But even when I do interact with the media, I still feel bad about it and rarely look back on these encounters with happiness.
I moved into doing lots of governance roles for an array of organisations. I started the year as Treasurer for InsideOUT, then stepped up to Co-chair after a couple of months. It didn’t take long to realise I just couldn’t do as much as I was doing, so I resigned. But since then I have also joined Out Wellington which organises Wellington Pride Festival, and Outerspaces. I have also been supporting other organisations and people setting up new organisations.
I also won a Youth Changemaker award from the Ministry of Youth Development, which was nice. It was also a little surreal because I don’t do this work for the recognition. I do it to help empower and inspire young trans people, and to remind them that their life is just beginning and that they can do anything they want.
I’ve done so much in 2016, and I am sure that in 2017 I will get to do lots more. I have lots of goals and dreams for this year and I can’t wait to see what happens.