The Pride Parade Experience
By GayNZ.com Daily News staff
27th February 2017 - 10:03 am
With the roar of Dykes on Bikes and the
cutting of rainbow ribbons the 2017 Auckland Pride parade made its
way down Ponsonby Road in a riot of colour, noise and sexualities.
GayNZ.com reporters Sarah Murphy, Cody Ward and Jay Bennie and photographer Andrea, exhaustively
criss-crossing the parade from start to finish, from Three Lamps to
Western Park, took in the sights and talked with participants and
Leading all were the combined Tangata
Whenua and Tangata Pasefika entries followed by Rainbow Youth,
representing three communities within the glbti community which the
overall Pride Festival has worked hard to ensure are as visible as
possible in the annual celebration of glbti cultures and lives.
Three young ones, Tahjai, Olive and
Layne, walking with their whanau wrapped with rainbow flags and with
rainbows painted on their cheeks were having a ball. "With came
with our aunty, we love it! - it's a really chill vibe," grinned
Tahjai, while aunty said: "They are the heroes"
And Rainbow Youth included a number of
'new faces' this year, including youth from Whangarei and Tauranga.
A new entry for 2017 followed, titled
Unconditional Love it was a small group of parents, family and
siblings of glbti people. Their giant red Love heart glowed in the
Parade Marshall Colin Narin was on duty
keeping order and handing out rainbow flags: "Everyone love a
man with a rainbow flag... This year to be at the start where it all
builds up with momentum and excitement is great."
Sporting lavender and green balloons,
the colours of women's suffrage, the Women's Bookshop, a haven of
feminist, lesbian and some wider glbti literature paraded past their
Ponsonby Road shop, followed by singer Annie Crummer on the rather
small and minimally decorated official Pride float. She was
surrounded by a posse of gaily costumed dancers and stilt-walkers in
feathers and rainbow colours and they in turn were followed by the
first of the big banks whose presence was a major feature of the
ASB staff in corporate colours led the gay men's rugby team,
the Falcons, which the bank sponsors.
Something about them set off Dr Huhana
Hickey's faithful four-legged companion Finn in a one-dog chorus of
excited barking, and we've awarded him GayNZ.com's Best Barking of
the 2017 Parade award.
Another first-time group represented
deaf glbti people, a small group but one which seemed to be hugely
appreciated by the many thousands lining the parade route.
A rousing cheer went up for the Police
entry which, despite pre-parade statements by the No Pride In Prisons
activist group, did not attract any significant protest action which they and
Corrections did for the last two years. No sign either of their
Minister marching with them as Judith Collins so controversially did
last year. But there were plenty of police dogs with rainbow
bandannas and police horses in the rear.
Superintendent Anna Jackson was pretty
hyped up: "It's fabulous, such a great way to celebrate how far
we've come. I joined in 1984 and we've come a very long way in terms
of diversity and culture. I'm thrilled to be here. I'm an ally
to all of my workmates." Those glbti workmates included lesbian
Inspector Tracy Phillips and MTF transgender police officer Rhona
Stace who ditched the uniform for something more
occasion-appropriate, a dazzling blue cocktail dress accessorized
with a tiara and sash proclaiming her to be Miss Demeanour.
It wouldn't be a Pride Parade without
someone squirting the crowd along the route and this time the honours
fell to another first-time entry, the NZ Fire Service who seemed to
get the vote of the VIP area for the hunkiest participants, or was
that just co-MC Buckwheat husband-hunting (yet) again? A heads-up to
the firefighter who rushed over to take a selfie with her: When
Buckwheat says you're married to her you really are married to her!
Less stately, but more energetic were
the colourful Youthline folk and the roller-conga line antics of what
the official media hand-out advised us were the Pirate City Roller
Bladders, who defied OSH edicts by whirring and snaking along the
route in a flash of skates and even did high-speed 'skate-jumps' over
each other. We'd like to award them the 'OSH-defying acts of courage,
skill and brazen flaunting with death' award but, feeling the need to
stand up for literacy, they, or the parade PR people on their behalf,
have been given our Best Parade Typo gong instead.
Most Unicorns in a single parade entry
goes to to the Bear NZ guys featuring the current Mr Urge Bear NZ
2017, Morro. At this point we decided we'd seen enough and with three
quarters of the parade still to go we awarded the Best Male Hunk
award to the un-named muscle guy (yes, we too can be shallow)
marching with the Falcons rugby team, with runners up being bear
par-excellence Morro and the stripped to the waist Island guy
channeling Herb Ritts as he walked behind the Grey Lynn Tyreworx
Then in a flurry of balloons, glitter,
rainbow colors and the occasional silly hat came groups including
Amnesty International who continue to speak up
to highlight the plight of persecuted glbti people in parts of the
world where their cultures and leaders seem to think making glbti
people's lives sheer hell is the way the world is supposed to be.
The Brass Bandits were the only
bona-fide marching band in the parade and GALS sang their hearts out
as usual. Amongst them a group of Celebrants marched in what was the
only obvious nod to the hard-fought for Civil Unions and Marriage
Equality legislative (and social) gains - discountng Buckwheat's instant selfie-marriage because the bride wasn't actually in the parade.
Rather mischievously the
parade programmers followed the celebrants with one of the only
barbed socio-political piss-takes in the whole parade, focusing on
a certain Wiri-based fundamentalist church leader whose views on
homosexuality range from head-shakingly unhinged to smarmily vicious. His linking the Christchurch Earthquakes to homosexuality last year was flaky, even for him!
We must, as we
have done for the past two years, award our Best Balloons award, this
time to the AUT entry for their seemingly block-long ropes of rainbow
coloured balloons which provided one of the most impressively
colourful sights of the parade.
Terence Kaaka, whose business has
donated trucking services to AUT, was loving it. He's only been out
for the last two years and was marching with his partner and two
children. "They're just as proud to be here as me. I'm proud to
have them with me and they're happy that I'm happy... Being around
other people I feel more comfortable, I'm proud."
Now isn't that exactly what Pride is
supposed to be all about?
We'll take a post-parade, post-party breather and post the next
part of our report shortly!
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