There are many who watch on in disdain; lifetime Labour and Greens supporters who donāt want a bar of the celebrity PM, sitting back with clear consternation on their faces that a man who voted against civil unions because he thought that was how his electorate felt, despite personally being in favour of the legislation, is so warmly welcomed in a gay crowd.
But each year since he was elected he has been embraced and nearly downright stalked by plenty of people at the annual celebration of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender New Zealand, even getting a strange cheer in 2011 when he stated his government hadnāt taken any of our rights away.
A year on, after he and his entourage made it through the sea of cameras, got on stage and delivered a speech, then made it back through the sea of cameras again, we pulled Key aside for a five minute chat.
āI think people respect the fact that we turn up and support the Big Gay Out,ā he tells GayNZ.com. āTheyāre not all going to be National supporters, but there is a lot of support out there for us. I think weāre doing quite well in the gay and lesbian community.ā
While his time on stage was a pretty sober affair compared to the infamous time when he danced with Buffy and Bimbo, he said he would have been happy to repeat the stunt. āThey didnāt ask me to. I understand David Shearer said no,ā he jibed. āI might have been keen.ā
Moving on from the fluffy stuff, youth suicide is an area Mr Key told the crowd he wants to tackle, and when we asked he was aware that glbti youth are overrepresented in the self-harm and suicide attempt statistics. āIām very interested in doing something about the statistics we have,ā he said. ā[Suicide victims] are obviously small numbers of people, but they devastate their families. Itās ultimately a symptom of much wider mental health issues that we need to address, and weāre really trying to put together a comprehensive programme in the same way that we did when we tried to tackle the methamphetamine.
"We acknowledge there will probably always be the tragedy of people taking their own lives, but weāre really determined to try and get better opportunities for young people to reach out and get help and feel suicidal.
On gay adoption, Key says he believes the best way for the outdated 1955 Adoption Act to be sorted would be through a private memberās bill coming onto Parliamentās agenda, ābut obviously the control of that process is a bit in the lap of the Gods, whether the bill will get drawn. If it does weāll take it through. My own personal view is that Iām not opposed to gay adoption. I donāt think Government would put it on the agenda primarily because adoption rates now are very low in New Zealand, there are under 100 family-based adoptions in any one year, so itās probably not fundamentally the biggest issue the Government has to concern itself with. But we accept itās an issue for the gay and lesbian community.ā
When probed on why such a small thing that would be so easy to fix canāt just be sorted out by the Government, Key says the Government has been looking at āa number of other thingsā to see if adoption can be made slightly easier. He says itās likely to sign an agreement with Russia, which might help speed up non-family adoptions. āAnd there are a number of other things that we could consider ā¦ weāve come a long way in terms of IVF treatment and the likes of that have helped a lot of families. But for a lot of people not being able to have a child because theyāre gay or simply canāt conceive, really rips their life apart, so we understand that issue.ā
On gay marriage, Keyās response is even less hopeful. āI donāt think itās likely to progress. Again, I think itās possible through a memberās bill, that would be considered. Again I think it would be something that the community would argue thereās no particular reason to be opposed to gay marriage, but at least the step to a civil union was an important step and an important win,ā he concedes, just over seven years since he voted against the Civil Union Bill as a first-term MP.
āWeāve got no intentions of reversing any of those gains to the community, so at least some progress has been made.ā
Personally, Key says, he treats people on what they bring to his experiences with them, whether professional or private. āI donāt judge people on their sexuality.ā
With that the celebrity Prime Minister is off to deal with the crowd that has gathered waiting for yet more pictures as we spoke. Sheesh.