Somewhere, over the rainbow
By Neueli Mauafu (he/him)
Elizabeth “Lizzie” Koroivulaono is your typical Pacific Islander living in New Zealand. Her migration story dates to the beautiful islands of Matuku, Lau in Fiji. Growing up in a tropical place like Fiji, Lizzie lived a simple life that revolved heavily around her cultural and religious values that she upheld whilst growing up in Matuku. The year 2008 came as a major change in Lizzie’s life as she moved over to Auckland for tertiary studies. Within most of the time frame of 2008, she began to face internal battles with herself as she realised she had an attraction to women.
Things are not always sunshine and rainbows when you have such feelings, especially if you grew up in the islands. A lot of inner conflicts develop from the pressures of coming out as a gay individual due to cultural and religious values. It is not because it is abolished, but more of it not aligning with what the church and culture preach about. For Elizabeth’s case, she was fortunate enough to be open about it with one of her good friends at university. They drew up a list, weighing the pros and cons of why this was who she really was. After six months of tossing and turning about it, she then came to accept that this is who she was.
Self-acceptance, however, was only just the start of her conflicts. The reveal to her family back home rattled her for a bit as she did not know what to expect on how they accept all this new information. Lizzie explains how accepting her sisters and mother were as they brushed aside cultural barriers and loved her for being honest and open. Her biggest fear was letting her dad know about all of this, as he is the family’s patriarch. As she uttered out her confession, he dropped everything else and comforted her into his arms.
“Are you happy, Noqu lewa (my girl)?” was the only questioned he asked. To him, he was more focused on his daughter being happy, regardless of whoever she dates or loves.
I am reminded of the lyrics of the late Hawaiian singer Bruddah Iz when I think of Lizzie’s story.
“Somewhere, over the rainbow
And the dreams that you dream of
Dreams really do come true”
Lizzie’s story is only just the tip of the iceberg of many other Pride Pasefika stories. Many young individuals tend to inherit internal battles regarding their sexuality. Why waste your time visualising the worst-case scenario when there is a dream to come true on the other side of the rainbow. Be proud of yourself and the person you are. Struggles and fights will soon cease as there greater days ahead.
As we celebrate CANTA’s Pride edition, always remember to be proud of who you are today. Nobody has the right to judge or even tell you who you should be. As Bruddah Iz sang, “somewhere over the rainbow, dreams really do come true”.