On a partly overcast and very, soooo very, humid
Auckland Sunday thousands of glbti people and our friends and
supporters converged in Coyle Park for the annual Big Gay Out.
There's a lot goes on over seven hours
of music, dancing, eating, drinking, hugging, parading and lusting.
Here's part one of our impressions, in somewhat random order, of the
As usual the rowdy main stage, actually
the only stage and officially styled the Durex Main Stage, is to the
west, lazing and picnicking space in the centre, community and
commercial stands to the east and food and drink stalls to the
extreme east. Official start time is midday but by then there are
already thousands strolling, chatting and setting up groundsheets,
hampers, bubbly, pooches and sunshade devices in the most-coveted
The official welcome and blessing are
over quite quickly and the Ahakoa Te Aha cultural group send their
powerful voices out over the park. Then the L&P Project. Followed
by the very in your face Diamond Divas take to the stage. For all
their brass and dazzle they are really, ahem, down to earth girls who
are later found sheltering from one of the short drizzle patches
repairing their cosmetic enhancements. Apparently going down a little
too aggressively on a lunch-time bratwurst plays havoc with the
By contrast Chloe and the team from the
Auckland Libraries' Book Bus at the far eastern, and therefore much
quieter, end of the park are a picture of gentility and erudition.
They're giving away some decommissioned glbti-themed books and there
are more to take out inside.
They have a shady pergola and at 2pm
they're going to do book readings for the kids, of whom there are
heaps with their (two) mums and (two) dads all over the park. Chloe
lets slip that she's not actually lesbian but she's doing her bit
because most of her glbti colleagues wanted to spend most of the day
socialising with their glbti friends. What a trooper.
In the middle of the park David Reeves
of the Rule Foundation, named after its first benefactor, is
patiently explaining to people that many glbti projects and
organisations rely on the financial kindness of strangers. Sadly
that's 100% true. The Rule people tactfully solicit donations and
bequests, consolidate them and oversee their appropriate channeling
to a broad range of glbti community projects.
This is Mia-Mae Taitimu-Stevens' first
time at the Big Gay Out. She's from â€śup northâ€ť and came with her
grandmother Kathleen, her gay neighbour Kevin and a few l&g
friends. Best part of the BGO for Mia-Mae so far was â€śdoing the
condom race with my grandma.â€ť For her the BGO means being â€śreally
excited to see an aspect of the community that I'm not part of, but
that so many people I care about are, so I feel like its important
for me to stand with them.â€ť
In big no-expense spared tents and
marquees, in contrast to glbti community groups' more modest affairs,
the big corporates like ANZ, New World, Southern Cross Health and AUT
offer vital services such as free glamour make-overs, glitter hands
and other colourful must-haves. All of course with built-in photo
booths and photo mirrors, as if there aren't already thousands of
selfie cams, selfie sticks and selfie pouts all over the park.
Somewhere in the background Buckwheat
is on the stage, her amplified voice demanding of the audience that
any Big Gay Out virgins identify themselves. God knows what she's
going to do to, or with, them, poor souls.
Brent, Trevor and the OUTline team are making sure folk know that in times of stress and confusion help is just a telephone call away and that face to face counseling is available too.
The Mr Gay New Zealand contestants take
the stage, ten of them including a trans man. The judges are, for
some reason, all Members of Parliament: Richard Hills (gay), Paula
Bennett (not) and Jacinda Adern (also not). They will eventually
choose NZAF staffer Charlie Tredway who, thrilled to bits, channels
Miss America in his victory speech drawing attention to the need to
combat stigma in all its forms. He's good-looking, rather gushy in a
nice way, genuinely sincere and a very popular winner. And he's HIV-positive.
Smell of BBQ smoke and meaty treats
wafts over the park, small posses of drag queens in particularly
gaudy day wear promenade, some fighting a losing battle with the
uncooperative weather... alternating bright sun, industrial-grade
humidity and warm drizzle play merry hell with wigs and Mac Cosmetics
Rod and Jason are circulating around.
Rod's partner is working on the OutLINE stand and it's his first BGO.
He asked Jason, who has taken a two-year break from the event after
several years of being a regular, to show him around. He's loving
â€śthe diversity, so many people from overseas, seeing how much glbti
people can support each other.â€ť
PM Bill English arrives and walks his
walkabout, surrounded by an inner ring of beefy diplomatic squadders
and media minders and an outer orbit including Paula Bennett, Maggie
Barry, Amy Adams, Nicki Kaye, Paul Foster-Bell. It appears all
straight male government MPs had prior commitments today. Mind you,
Labour leader Andrew Little is a tad lonely in that respect too.
Telitira Mayall-Nahi is here to â€śjust
hang out, chill, party up... The acts have been real fun, a great
pull of people.â€ť To him the BGO means â€ścelebrating diversity, all
of us coming together.â€ť
We'll be back tomorrow for Part two of our impressions of New Zealand's biggest annual glbti event.