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SocietyJune 12, 2022

How Gloria of Greymouth rose again

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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/instagram.com/gloria_of_greymouth)

 

Mad Chapman, Editor
Aotearoa continues to adapt to a new reality and The Spinoff is right there, sorting fact from fiction to bring you the latest updates and biggest stories. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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