At our campuses, the words ‘rainbow’ and ‘rendezvous’ are synonymous with one person – Scotty Matthews.
Scotty is an advocate and founder of Rainbow Rendezvous, a support and social network for all past, present and future staff, students, family, whanau, ‘aiga and affiliates of Weltec, Whitireia and Te Auaha.
Scotty’s passion for supporting LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian; Gay; Bisexual; Transgender; Queer/Questioning; Intersex; Asexual/Allies) people began with his own ‘coming out’ story at age 13.
I came out one calendar year before Ellen DeGeneres and I like to think I lead the way – even though she has a good decade and a half on me in age.”
Scotty realized very quickly that despite the Homosexual Law Reform Bill being a decade old, there was still very little support available for the LGBTQIA+ community.
It took another twenty years of working in hospitality before Scotty committed to his primary goal of working with the LGBTQIA+ community. He enrolled in the Bachelor of Social Work at Whitireia in Porirua, making the LGBTQIA+ community his focus of study. This field of practice is only just developing in Aotearoa New Zealand. His study has helped Scotty shape this important work and with Whitireia and WelTec’s encouragement and resources, Scotty has been able to develop the Rainbow Rendezvous support network.
And Rainbow Rendezvous is growing. It now has a presence on all campuses, with Te Auaha being the official home base. While Scotty’s role is a developmental one, it is accepted that links to community agencies and resources about inclusion and diversity are useful for staff and students alike. As a result projects such as free STI checks courtesy of the Āwhina Centre, and Ending HIV NZ are visible and present on campus.
Most recent developments include seats at Wellington Regional Council Pride Development Hui and acknowledgement of work by ILGA – International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association who are to hold their 40th International Conference in Wellington in March 2019, the first time in New Zealand and Oceania.
Scotty believes that this is just the beginning of things to come. “Watch this space and see how well Rainbow Rendezvous grows”. He encourages everyone to sign-up as a member, whether part of the community or an ally. Rainbow Rendezvous can currently be found on Facebook and welcomes everyone.
Scotty Matthews is available from 10am on Wednesday’s at the Te Auaha campus.
If you’re seeking support, information, resources or a chat in a safe space, email Scotty.Matthews@whitireia.ac.nz to make an appointment.