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SocietyJune 12, 2022

How Gloria of Greymouth rose again


In the early hours of June 2, Greymouth’s pink church – a home and performing arts venue known as Gloria – was vandalised with homophobic and antisemitic graffiti. Gloria’s owner, artist and poet Sam Duckor-Jones, relates what happened next.

I have always preferred to live alone

I don’t wish to share anybody’s bed

I can happily end a busy day without having spoken a single word

I like it

I like it like this

I also like to be flamboyantly queer

I have a daily desire to twirl in a pink satin robe

I require a wide floor & a high high ceiling

I do not wish to go clubbing

I have a sense of myself

I am almost 40

I can do things. So in October 2021

I moved into the former St Andrews church in Blaketown, Greymouth. Because

I also like nature & the West Coast of Aotearoa has a lot of it. Here in this derelict building

I have a wide rimu floor & a 15 foot stud

I have the sound of the surf filling the air as fully as anything else omniscient

I have the damp cliffs illuminated nightly by electric blue revelations

I have a place to twirl

I am happy & alone

I set about painting the building pink, inside & out

I named her

I commissioned a pink neon sign in a flouncy hand to hang above the altar: Gloria

I draped the windows in pink organza & tulle

I strung pink beads from this & that

I placed plastic flowers: here & here

I put on my robe & a little mascara & twirled & felt very good & whole

I got a couple of part time jobs

I made friends, they come by, say hello

I muddle along as Gloria’s glow, her reputation & mission of quiet campery spreads across the world

I am often overwhelmed by press attention. But

I am glad that the project is so loved. Especially by folks here in Greymouth. So it was a great

disappointment to find that she had been attacked early last Friday morning as I slept inside.

All along her light pink sides were homophobic & antisemitic signs & words &

messages along with christian symbols & scripture & a burned rainbow flag out the front.

It was frightening. I was all alone. My family & all of

my old heart friends are still up north. I am all alone. I

phoned the police & they turned up quickly & took

the hate crime seriously. Am I all alone. I phoned some new

local friends, a little apologetically. Word spread then & folks showed

up in droves. With flowers & cards & hugs & tears & support & outrage

Gloria’s pink icing flanks were restored by noon

We sat on her paint spattered floor. We ate sandwiches

We caught each other’s eyes & crinkled a bit & looked away

We checked our phones & said so & so & so & so & so & so just heard

We gathered again that evening for a visit from Taranaki drag royalty

We wore our highest heels & our glitteriest jackets & our eyes clashed well with our lips.

We sang & laughed & twirled & went to bed at a reasonable hour

We did the same thing the next night & the night after that

We continued to be vividly outraged &

We continued to be queerly defiant &

We put on our silk robes & our big hats & our gumboots &

We watched the sun go down & the glorious coast was lit up as pink as a lullaby &

We twirled.


Drag queen Erika Flash performing at Gloria’s the night after the building was vandalised (supplied)




The interior (supplied)
Sam Duckor-Jones at Gloria, his home/art installation/live venue (Photos: Supplied/


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