David Herkt reviews 30 Queer Lives


‘Matt McEvoy’s 30 Queer Lives: Conversations with LGBTQIA+ New Zealanders offers its readers edited interviews condensed into first-person narratives that encompass the entire range of non-heterosexual intimate experience. The book is written approachably to present a national state-of-play and perspectives, at a particular time in social existence.

‘Each chapter is illustrated by a monochrome image of its subject and headlined with an alluring summary of its contents. The interviewees are generally public personalities – politicians, entertainers, fashion designers, businesspeople, to categorise a few – as well as a scattering of other more ‘representative’ individuals – a farmer, someone from the defence forces, the academic or school-teacher. Some are immigrants. Most are New Zealand born. There are Māori and Polynesian as well as other ethnicities. They have been carefully selected; boxes are ticked.

‘Now granted full equality under law, former sexual sub-cultures have come in from the margins but still fresh in the memory of many of men in 30 Queer Lives is a time when their intimate physical expressions were illegal, their social lives hidden, their real lives closeted. However, with the passage Homosexual Law Reform Act of 1986, things changed.

‘While lesbian women had never faced the same legal hurdle, there were many social obstacles in their lives. The Civil Union Act would lead to full marriage equality for all by 2013. Gender change is a complex matter still in process. While there are few impediments to equal status in 2021, it is a different story socially. Growing up queer is often difficult.

‘The interviewees in McEvoy’s book range in age from their twenties to their seventies. Their gender definitions are diverse, just as is their preferred sexual nominations. Their personal histories are illuminating.’

Read the full review at Kete here.