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A collage of images of the activations and content for Deepen* including table settings, faces and hands against a backdrop of a sign reading 'Disabled people for black lives matter'.

Image description

A collage of imagery from Deepen* content including table settings, faces and hands against a backdrop of a sign reading 'Disabled people for black lives matter'.

Articulating Deepen* - An invitation to take up space in a new way

What does deepening our relationship with disability and queerness look like? For us it meant access frameworks, heart wrenching poetry and a lot of good food.

  • Articulating Deepen* - An invitation to take up space in a new way
    Beth Awatere
  • There’s this game called Articulate, where you describe a word to your team without saying said word. I think if I were to pull a card with the word Deepen* on it, it would say this: 

    Imagine you are in a room filled with all the people you love. Some of them you’ve only just met, but the shared experience of queerness makes it easy to laugh and expand your found family. Others you’ve known since you first realised you were queer after seeing Rachel Weisz in The Mummy. There’s kai, good music and a guide dog in the corner making everyone smile. And more importantly, you’ve made it into the room. All of the barriers that usually exist have been mitigated. Your transport is taken care of, you know the menu and have the option of bringing your own comfort food if you like. The bare minimum of an accessible venue is chosen and there is an access framework in place to support your chronic illness or invisible disability. 

    This was our vision for the Deepen* kaupapa. To have our disabilities acknowledged at the centre of the preparation and planning of our activations and content, so we get to exist authentically and without reservation, in a space that was designed with us in mind.

    Misty Frequency and Ari Kerssens brought a special kind of reverence to their activations which were hosted at Nathan Homestead. Misty designed their dinner around kawakawa, and created a space filled with healing and restoration. Existing in that space as an autistic takataapui felt very emotional, but also very cathartic. Yet, the experience of being able to connect to queer community in a space that wasn’t overwhelming or overstimulating felt foreign. Nobody minded that I was too tired to mask or questioned when someone disappeared from the dinner table for a breather. I kept waiting to find a barrier and when I didn’t it was both exhilarating and confusing. Misty created such a welcoming, healing evening, and in the same breath gave us permission to exist authentically as ourselves. It was beautiful, kind and so much more nuanced than that original vision we’d had for the Deepen* activations.

  • “The reo, the karakia, the drums, the rhythm, the music, set the scene, the preparations and wow the kai. From us old girls to you all, thank you.”

    - Dr Huhana Hickey on Misty’s activation

  • Misty’s activation also tied in really nicely with one of the key pieces of content we curated for Deepen*. On the content side of things, Dr Huhana Hickey and Nōell Ratapu spent an hour discussing the dynamic between tuakana and teina as takataapui in te ao Māori. This conversation, hosted on The D*List, manifested into reality during Misty's activation as Dr Huhana and Dr Hu’s partner Sophie, spent the evening in korero with some of the queer teina attending the dinner (myself included). Existing in that space with takataapui across all different generations was an unexpected taonga, and an experience that I know many of the rangatahi who attended will hold close.

    Ari’s dinner took a different approach. It was an activation of a space designed for guests with low vision, and so the kaupapa centred around touch, taste and sound. Most of the evening was spent outside on the porch, at tables laden with clay, little tubs of glaze and a range of textiles. The intention of the evening was to create a vessel out of clay, an emotional time capsule imbued and inspired with our experiences of disabled queer pride.

  • The dinner was a beautiful space to connect with disabled friends old and new, I know it was designed with āhurutanga in mind and I felt that warmth. It was such a treat to think about how we can embody and mould clay into something pride evokes for us under our facilitator Cobi's guidance.

  • I really appreciate that Ari Kerssens and The D*List with financial support from Auckland Pride, Nathan Homestead and other sponsors and collaborators dreamed up this dinner and made it possible. I hope future Pride events can build on this in order to reach even more Rainbow and Takatāpui whānau in the disability community.

    - Àine Kelly-Costello on Ari’s activation 

  • Cobi tfj Bosch was our co-facilitator for the evening and helped bring Ari’s vision to life. The feeling of sitting at those tables, chatting and moulding the clay was a grounding experience. Cradled in that space filled with laughter and shared joy, and wouldn’t have been the same if it wasn’t for the people in that room.

  • Video description: A series of scenes from a vibrant dinner party hosted outside in the sunset. Some scenes are set inside a wooden room of an old-looking homestead house. A range of people, both with visible and invisible disabilities, are moulding clay. Other scenes show people being served delicious food and laughing and talking together. 

  • While the overarching kaupapa of Deepen* focuses on queerness and disability during Pride Month, the enduring message is that whenever we connect with our communities we should be deepening the space to make it accessible. We hope this curation is something we can offer as an invitation to begin taking up space in a new way. Part of this offer is the content we created, so that even those who weren’t able to attend our intimate dinner activations would still be able to connect and engage with the kaupapa. We commissioned two poems. The first poem was offered by Henrietta Bollinger, who shared an intimate and grounded perspective of their experience of disability and queerness. The second Deepen* poetry by Ruby Solly explores whakapapa, the medical model for Māori wahine, and her journey to become a parent. Ari and Misty also shared the playlists they designed for their activations, so if anyone would like to invite Deepen* into your home or gathering, you can! You can find Ari’s playlist here, and Misty’s playlist here.

    So, to try and articulate Deepen* for you one more time. To us, it means community supporting community. It means holding space for one another in the way you hope others would hold space for you. 

    None of this could have been possible without the support of Auckland Pride and the team at Nathan Homestead.

  • A black and white logo for Auckland Pride Festival 2024, and Nathan Homestead Pukepuke