Created By: Radical Wellington Walking Tour
At least one experience of this walking tour should be a sense of temporal displacement, witnessing sites of history that have been redeveloped and can only be captured in remembering. Here, the French Maid coffee shop represents a time when politics created present parallel universes as public spaces doubled as sites of personal activism. This was the 1950s, when social consciousness of homosexuality was only just beginning to blur the lines between private business and public knowledge, and coffee shops hid in plain sight as places gay men could congregate under guises of plausible deniability.
The French Maid, having opened in the 1940s, welcomed a varied range of individuals and kept their doors opened late when pubs closed down at 6 o'clock. Like other venues of its kind, it made up the unspoken network of the 'underlying gay world' of Wellington.
Want to learn more?
Mates & Lovers: A History of Gay New Zealand by Chris Brickell.
Alexander Turnbull Library. Photographer: Leo Morel. Arthur Singleton MS Papers 1977-01
This point of interest is part of the tour: Walking Radical Wellington