It’s Neilson’s time to shine

Entertainer and activist Joanne Neilson, of Christchurch. Photo: Supplied

ACTIVIST and entertainer Joanne Neilson will share her life, activism and her journey supporting the LGBTQI+ community during An Evening with Joanne Neilson.

Hosted by KIND Women, a group which aims to support, empower and encourage all women through events and activities with a goal of working towards equality, the evening will be held at Repertory House at the end of this month.

Rebecca Amundsen, of KIND Women, said the group was keen to bring Neilson back to Invercargill after seeing her perform as part of Queens Go South in 2019.

“This was an amazing show and we thought there would be an opportunity to host Joanne so we could hear about her life.

“Joanne is an exceptional entertainer and has played a huge role in supporting the LGBTQI+ community in New Zealand.

“This event will be not only entertaining, but informative.”

Described as “larger than life and 6ft in stocking feet, she is a big woman. With a throaty chuckle and twinkle in her eye, Joanne is always ready with a quippy retort and laugh”.

With 38 years in the entertainment industry, Neilson enjoyed all types of entertainment, from emceeing and cabaret performances to film and television work.

With a love of all things sparkly, Neilson loves to shine.

She was known for her cookbooks Never Trust a Skinny Cook and Ultimate Gluten Free, and is writing some children’s books.

As well as 20 years on community radio and three years on the television show Queer Nation, Neilson had been involved in several community groups and was the past president of Agender, a support group for the trans community and former co-chair of Qtopia, a support network for LGBTIQ+ youth.

She was also a part of the Christchurch Pride committee and part of the consumer team with Pegasus Health’s Co design team, working on gender affirming pathways.

As well as running her own hair salon, she was also a marriage celebrant.

Neilson had been an out-trans woman, advocating for trans rights for almost 40 years, Amundsen said.

“Being part of one of the most discriminated groups, Joanne has a great empathy for people from all walks of life,” she said.

As part of the evening, Neilson would be wearing the winning jewellery item or collection created as part of the Bosses Can Bead event, supporting CanInspire Southland to provide creative therapy for people who experiencing illness, trauma and loss.

  • An Evening with Joanne Neilson, Repertory House, cnr of Deveron and Esk Sts, Invercargill, Thursday, May 27, 7pm. Door sales: $10