Lesbian icon receives Order of Merit for staunch advocacy to NZ rainbow community


For a long time, Miriam Saphira thought she was a freak. “I always knew I was homosexual – I didn’t know the word ‘lesbian’ – but I read in an encyclopaedia that homosexuals had arrested development and I thought, ‘I’m a freak’.” That mindset led her to marrying a man after becoming pregnant at 19. Five children later and a psychology degree under her belt, she decided she didn’t want to live a lie any more and took a leap of faith coming out in the 1970s – before homosexuality was legalised in New Zealand. Now at 80 years old, Saphira has a phD, just celebrated eight years of marriage to her loving wife, and on Monday was made a companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her staunch advocacy for the rainbow community.

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