About the February 2024 Festival

The theme of 2024’s festival is Camp Rage. Drawing on summer camp themes, we’ve imagined ‘Camp Rage’ as fictional location for our community to feel safe, heard and understood.

This year’s festival has been a collaborative effort, put together by a volunteer board that comprises the following talented and passionate people: Simie Simpson, Joanne Drayton, Michael Giacon, Hiraani Himona, Izzy Robinson, Rhi Munro, Nathan Joe and Sam Orchard.

Launch: i’m still growing

7pm, Monday February 12

Auckland Pride Office, Karangahape Road, Auckland CBD

The launch of a collection of poetry by Josiah Morgan, held in collaboration with Auckland Pride and Dead Bird Books. The launch featured readings from Josiah Morgan, Nathan Joe and Liam Jacobson and live music by Laika Loveheart.  

Notes on Camp

A staged play reading of Murdoch Keane’s Notes on Camp.

7 – 8pm, Thursday February 15

Ellen Melville Centre, 2 Freyberg Place

Notes on Camp is Murdoch Keane’s unauthorised adaption of Susan Sontag’s essay of the same name. It’s Trisha Paytas writing To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s a synchronized swimming routine in the Mariana Trench. It’s Helen Keller’s stage debut in The Sound of Music. Prayers answered, wishes granted, ruby slippers – never worn.

F*ck and Other Words

A discussion on anti-LGBTQIA+ campaigns.

10:30am, Saturday February 17

Ellen Melville Centre, 2 Freyberg Place

Marianne Elliott of The Workshop was joined by campaigner Shaneel Lal, journalist Felix Desmarais and researcher Alex Ker to discuss how writers are impacted by, and responding to, the recent rise of anti-LGBTQIA+ campaigns taking place in the global west.

We’ve Always Been Here

Historical perspectives on queer visibility.

2:30pm, Saturday February 17

Ellen Melville Centre, 2 Freyberg Place

A panel discussion chaired by researcher and activist Jack ByrneJack was joined by Leonie Pihama and Mani Mitchell to explore historical and elder perspectives on queer visibility and resistance. In 2024, what has changed and what’s still the same?


A lecture on queer experience delivered by Etta Bollinger.

5.15pm, Saturday February 17

Ellen Melville Centre, 2 Freyberg Place

Each year, Samesame But Different ask an LGBTQIA+ author to deliver a lecture which explores queer life and queer writing in Aotearoa. Named in memory of the festival’s late founder, writer and activist Peter Wells, the lecture is a ‘provocation’ – designed to challenge and inspire. The 2024 lecture was delivered by Etta Bollinger.

Launch: Outsider

The launch of a new novel by Jade Du Preez.

7pm, Sunday February 18

Time Out Bookstore

The launch of Outsider – a contemporary novel set in Japan and New Zealand that follows the connections between a light installation artist, a video game-obsessed businessman, a writer who refuses to speak, and the star of a gender-bending host bar. The event opened with a performance from local musicians 紅音 Akane.

Poetry Speakeasy

5 – 7pm, Wednesday February 14

Studio One – Toi Tū, 1 Ponsonby Road, Auckland

2024 was the ninth PRIDE Poetry Speakeasy and Open Mic, again held in collaboration with Auckland Libraries. Hosted by Michael Giacon, the event featured readings from guest poet Zephyr Zhang 张挚.

Campfire Stories

6 – 9pm, Friday February 16

Ellen Melville Centre, 2 Freyberg Place

The 2024 opening night kicked off with the announcement of the winners of the Peter Wells Short Fiction Contest.

Then, a lineup of LGBTQIA+ authors read new work they’d written, drawing on the prompt of ‘Campfire Stories’. We heard new work from Sascha Stronach, Keagan Carr Fransch, Gina Cole, Samuel Te Kani and Anthony Lapwood.

Rage on the Page

A panel discussion on emotional writing.

12pm, Saturday February 17

Ellen Melville Centre, 2 Freyberg Place

Playwright Victor Rodger was joined by Saraid de Silva, Samuel Te Kani and Zephyr Zhang 张挚. Together they explored the topic of RAGE: how writers experience it, and how they channel it into refined, creative and impactful writing.

The Editors Session

A kōrero on publishing.

4pm, Saturday February 17

Ellen Melville Centre, 2 Freyberg Place

Chaired by Van Mei, editors Damien Levi, Stacey Teague and Sinead Overbye discuss the selection process when considering who and what to publish – or not publish. What is involved in creating spaces for more queer writers?


A staged reading and interview.

7pm, Saturday February 17

Ellen Melville Centre, 2 Freyberg Place

A celebration of Robert Lord’s legacy and the recent publication of The Robert Lord Diaries, edited by Chris Brickell, Vanessa Manhire and Nonnita Rees. Actor Ryan Carter read a selection of the diaries, with support by director Keagan Carr Fransch. This was followed by a discussion between one of the book’s editors, Chris Brickell, and playwright Nathan Joe.