LGBT community stalwart Paul Heard is moving on from Auckland. His business partner (and former partner) Alan Granville writes about the man.
I don't think I have ever met a more selfless person - he genuinely cares for people, he has a huge desire to help, and an ability to help fix or sort out any problems. Issue with a car? He can fix it. Having relationship strife? He offers sage advice. Need help in the kitchen? He can whip up something tasty in minutes.
Paul has become a 'go to' guy for many within the community and his work as a Community Engagement Coordinator at the New Zealand AIDS Foundation (NZAF) in Freemans Bay for over seven years only amplified that.
This ability to help does not come without personal cost sometimes, and through the years there are times when even the most patient of men struggle. After a third time of being assaulted on K'Road he lashed out on social media, and these words and the subsequent backlash to an article by a 'community' rag have had a huge impact on the Paul I know and care for.
A moment of anger and a poor choice of words should not define the man or undermine the massive good that Paul has done within the community.
He has helped raise around $100,000 for a variety of charities over the years, including the past six Big Gay Outs at Coyle Park when all profits raised from the bars he ran were distributed to the NZAF. A huge range of charities have benefited from the fundraising including OUTLine, the SPCA, Cartier Trust, Prostate Cancer Foundation, Diabetes NZ and more - the list is pretty massive. As part of his job at the NZAF, he was also instrumental in the continued healthcare of the gay community and the distribution of hundreds of thousands of condoms around New Zealand.
Paul also helped organise a vigil after the Orlando shooting massacre at the Pulse nightclub and a recent protest against the treatment of LGBT in Chechnya.
Paul is saying goodbye to Auckland for a while. He isn't going far but is taking a well deserved time out to stay with family down in the Firth of Thames. I know I am far from alone in saying 'kia kaha' Paul - you are loved by so many. (ALAN GRANVILLE)