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Ruta Mave: Embracing the rainbow community

Monday 17 April 2023 | Written by Ruta Tangiiau Mave | Published in Editorials, Opinion


Ruta Mave: Embracing the rainbow community
Members of Pride Cook Islands at the stakeholder consultation with the Chamber of Commerce in 2021. 21091765

The decision to recognise our rainbow community has finally shown there is a heart in the ‘tin man’ politicians, writes Ruta Mave.

Somewhere over the rainbow bluebirds fly there’s a land that I dream of once in a lullaby. Ding dong the witch hunt is dead, the Cook Islands are no longer in Kansas anymore Dorothy. The government have clicked their red sparkling CIP shoes together and transported the nation out of the dry barren thoughts of the past into accepting the vibrant and colourful existence of the rainbow community.

It is done – the government have sat, they chatted, they decriminalised the homosexuality bill (Crimes Sexual Offences Amendment Bill).  Yes, there was opposition for fear of going against God’s will but as we travel the windy and bumpy yellow brick road towards the great Wizard of Oz we shall see if God is indeed upset or if again this is another test.

Dorothy’s dream of a better and brighter life is journey of discovery and growth from helplessness to self confidence. It was a tornado that brought her beyond the flatlands of Kansas and equally the decision regarding the fate of the rainbow community has been a whirlwind of emotions and decisions going around in circles for some time gathering momentum from both points of view. The sting in the tail of those who demanded the choices of love between two men or two women was not real or not allowed under God’s law have wreaked destruction in the hearts and homes of many in our population and around the world. But love is love, it can’t be chosen, directed or arranged.

Love is patient, love is kind but love is also frustrating, maddening, illogical and blind. Love can take you by surprise and lead you into the opposite of realism, idealism, capitalism. Love sees no barriers, laws or religions. Love is love and once hit by cupids’ arrow, many have found themselves questioning the humanity of their communities’ laws when they are opposed to what love has shown them is possible.

The law is changed however the minds of some may remain the same for another half century. Sixty years ago Martin Luther King was speaking about racial integration and the equity of blacks and whites together – are we there yet? Over hundred years ago women got the right to vote and to have their say and sixty years ago the women’s liberation movement pushed for equality for women and general human rights for all people. Are we there yet?  The law is one thing but when a mind that is convinced against its belief, it remains unconvinced of the new direction.

If we were to gain a brain like the scarecrow was wanting we could use this news to think how can it better our tourism marketing. I would say we are a long way from accepting same sex marriage but as a honeymoon destination we could be a major attraction. This is not to mean the island will be turned into a writhing den of iniquity after all we have honeymooners come here all the time and they keep their PDA under check to themselves in the privacy of their rooms. 

The gay community are made up of a lot of highly successful, clean beautifully dressed and creative appreciative of the arts, culture, food, health and spending money. Just what we want in visitors to increase our tourism revenue. We are better to have this demographic than attracting the rugby team boys trip of alcohol fueled madness that leads to loud, messy and sometimes destructive behaviour.

The decision to recognise our rainbow community has finally shown there is a heart in the tin man politicians. The hard shell of denial of ignorance and of demeaning persecution on an emotional and personal level has pushed many confused and loving souls into losing themselves to take their own lives. We hope this show of heart is more than just words on a piece of paper, we hope it is a warm and beating heart of humanity that will slowly melt the tin exterior of judgement and allow people to be their true selves in their world. If they are not harming anyone or affect you directly, why should it be a problem. A heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.

The lion walked the path looking for courage while along the way showing great bravery to protect his friends. Lion learns true courage is not an absence of fear, it is in facing danger when you are afraid and doing it anyway. The lion of Te Tiare is Val Wichman who has fearlessly entered the den of men becoming a lawyer, holding a high position in work and morality while being and speaking her true self. She is a beautiful symbol of racial gender work and intellectual equality. She deserves a purple heart for bravery.