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Together with Karangahape Road Business Association and Pride Pledge, Merge Cafe hosted a fabulous PRIDE DINNER on 27 February, as part of this year’s Auckland Pride festivities and Roll-Out The Rainbow! Here’s an update from Merge Cafe’s Business Manager, Julia West:

The Pride Dinner at Merge Café was a lovely event full of hearty conversations, kai and convivial company.

Merge volunteers served up a fruity punch with kombucha and guests were each given a yellow nametag with the words “I AM …” on it. People could add their name, gender, sexuality or anything else inspiring. Some said I AM AWESOME, others I AM A SEXUAL BEING, others I AM GORGEOUS!

Tables were set with trays of delicious entrées, family-style platters of chicken breast, ham and barbequed peppers, courgettes and aubergines for mains, followed by individual Kiwiana trifles.

As the K’ Road Business Association provided some funding for the evening, Manager Michael Richardson welcomed everyone and introduced Martin King the Director of Pride Pledge.

Martin spoke about how he came into Merge Café a few years ago when his son was having mental health issues. Martin and his family were living locally and he just needed somewhere to chill. He didn’t know what Merge Café was about until one of our staff asked him if he needed anything and sat down to talk to him. He’s been a loyal follower ever since.

Julia spoke about the move away from binary sexual identities to a gender/sexuality continuum that we are all part of. She expressed the hope that over time the fluidity of this continuum will become normalised, so we won’t need more labels, but less or none at all.

Ed, a regular Merge customer who used to offer Peer Support at Merge, spoke about being Takatapui (a person who is gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender) and the inclusive space Merge provides for everyone regardless of their sexuality or gender.

Kat’z performed a karakia mo te kai to bless the food and dinner was served by volunteers who also shared in the meal.

It was a heartwarming evening of community and connection.