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The Swimmers

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Katherine Torrens

On 9th July 1986, the Homosexual Reform Bill was passed into law in New Zealand. Despite divisive social debate, the stories of gay people, long submerged in mainstream culture, surfaced; and a more compassionate light was shone on the genuine crisis posed by the AIDS epidemic.

The Swimmers is the fictional story of a young runaway Celie. From makeshift camps and squats, she writes her dead grandmother letters, in which she describes the failure of her first tenuous gay relationship and her confusion of swimming and dying. Her story parallels that of her lost Uncle who disappeared twenty-five years earlier. Uncle Jack returns home, dying of AIDS, at the crux of vociferous opposition to the Bill. In what at times feels like a quirky comedy of errors, the story traces the disruption of familial relationships and their relentless, resilient recovery.