Local Focus: Speaking up for the rainbow community


Rocky Horror Picture Show star Richard O’Brien rehearses with Tauranga Boys’ College.

After a difficult year for Tauranga’s rainbow community, local schools, celebrities and volunteers will come together this weekend for YouNity, a series of events promoting diversity and inclusion.

“I think we would all agree that Tauranga does need some work in terms of its appreciation of diversity,” Gordy Lockhart, organiser and founder of charity YouBeYou Tauranga Moana said.

“YouBeYou developed this year and proposes that Tauranga, in this case as a society, is better through celebrating minorities.

“All our minorities [together] are a majority, and we’re better together – we’re a more vibrant, better society in celebrating differences.”

A band from Tauranga Boys’ College is just one of many local acts taking part in the event to show support.

“We’re a school of 2100 boys, so we’ve obviously got boys from all walks of life,” music teacher Joe Thomas said.

“It’s really important for us as a school to show our support for people from any walk of life, whether they’re gay, bi, different races, [or at] different academic levels.

“This is a great opportunity to show it’s a really inclusive place for them, and having the band perform at such an event is a strong indication of our support for that.”

A highlight of the event will see the school band performing with Richard O’Brien of Rocky Horror Picture Show fame.

“Richard’s actually an old boy of the school, and our most successful art student ever, with The Rocky Horror Picture Show and all the films and documentaries he’s done,” Thomas said.

“I reached out to Richard and asked if he would be part of it and he was really rapt, so a friend of mine arranged Time Warp for this instrumentation and we’re going to perform that onstage with him, which is really exciting.”

O’Brien says it’s the perfect opportunity to speak up for the rainbow community.

“Recently, we had an oasis for gay and transgender people here that was burnt to the ground,” he said.

“Being gay or transgender is as natural as being red-headed. It’s just a fact. It happens to you, and the fact that we have to justify what we are by default is shameful, really.

“So, that’s why I’m here – to speak up for the gay community and speak up for democracy.”

For more information about the event and tickets, go to on the website.



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