27 October, 2022
The exhibition was developed in 2019 as part of Pride 25, a series of events commemorating 25 years of LGBTQ+ personnel serving openly in the NZDF, and recognising the journey of the NZDF from exclusion to becoming a world leader in military LGBTQ+ inclusion.
The exhibition includes large portrait images accompanied by individual personal stories, each of them both inspirational and poignant.
Warrant Officer Annie Clarkson of NZDF’s OverWatch Group contacted the National Army Museum in Waiouru to see if it would like to exhibit them. OverWatch supports the unique needs of the Defence Force’s LGBTQI staff – both in uniform and civilian, and provides education to its leaders so they understand different sexualities and gender identities.
Warrant Officer Clarkson said the response from the National Army Museum was amazing and the exhibition opened last month. It will run until the end of January next year to ensure more schools will have the opportunity to visit, as well as the general public.
“It was great to see the portraits up and being viewed by so many people, including overseas visitors. The images are very powerful and the stories inspiring, some of them a bit heart-breaking to start with.”
“The hope is that it will show people outside of the military how far we have come and that we now fully support our Rainbow Community. It will inspire some of the newer generation to join up with no fear, knowing they will be encouraged to bring their whole selves to the workplace.”
From the National Army Museum, Warrant Officer Clarkson will be transporting the portraits and stories to Auckland and the Navy Museum and then hopefully at other museums.
“I definitely don’t want any of them going back into the closet any time soon.”
The National Army Museum is open 9am to 4.30pm daily. See www.armymuseum.co.nz.