Despite public funding making the Auckland Pride Festival and in particular the Pride Parade possible, the range of events will include plenty to challenge and explore some of the less visible aspects of glbti culture, according to festival director Julian Cook.
Cook says this is definitely not the case. "The Festival certainly isn't lacking in edge," he says. "There are several theatre pieces and art exhibitions that are more challenging than anything that's been in any gay and lesbian festival in New Zealand in many years.Responding to suggestions that the Council will be a hovering presence due to its provision of ratepayer funding, Cook says the council agency he deals most directly with has been extremely understanding of the need to be realistic about glbti lives and cultures.
"There's no particular pressure coming from the Council around any of that stuff. In fact the Council have been incredibly supportive. Ateed [the council's events promotion arm] are really interested in it being a platform that different parts of the glbti communities can use. They know that if it's the same as everything else it would be very boring and slightly pointless. They understand that is is a queer parade and festival. They know that our differences have to be explored and they are being very supportive of it."
If there are boundaries within which Pride must work they are no different from those which all parts of societies are subject to, Cook says. "There are always legal boundaries that you have to work to and those boundaries are exactly the same as they are for everybody else."
He points out several events which he know will either confront or not be to everyone's taste. "There are works within the festival like Black Faggot which challenges society in different ways. And events exploring sexuality quite overtly too, such as the fisting party, which can also be quite challenging for people. There are all the idiosyncrasies of Bear Week which is very specific in its focus. There's I Do, I Don't which is based around the marriage equality bill and explores people's differing opinions on gay and lesbian marriage. So, yes there's a lot of stuff in the festival that challenges people in a range of different ways and that's the stuff that really excites me to be honest."
The full Auckland Pride Festival programme is scheduled to be released mid-January.