Sunday the 13th of Feb marked yet another fantastic Get it On! Big Gay Out. It is really wonderful to be in a crowd of thousands and thousands of other queer people. A lot of people are saying it was the biggest and best yet.
I guess it feels so good because most of our lives we are in the minority nearly everywhere we go. When we go out to a bar or a club, it’s dark, but here at the BGO we're out in the sun - events like this give us a chance to be part of a big friendly group of like-minded people. Having a space where we don't have to hide, don't have to pretend, where whatever you are on the LGBTT Queer spectrum is fine and all are welcome is important.
Sometimes people say "There is no gay community anymore" but events like this show us there are lots of connected gay/queer communities all across the Auckland region and beyond. There are networks of people, some based in friendship, some in shared hobbies, some in politics, some in business, some built just on having a good time, and they connect to each other, they overlap.
It was just such a happy day, a great feeling as people wandered around, seeing mates, listening to performers, dancing, having picnics on the grass, or just hanging out.
It's firmly on the politicians' calendar now, with the PM showing up and speaking and the Leader of the Opposition, and many of the openly gay MPs in Parliament there too. This shows that they see us as a group that must be acknowledged and included - you won't find the PM or other senior politicians showing up to these sort of events in many other countries around the world.
The variety is incredible, especially when you think what gay life was like 20 years ago in this country. There were lots of gay families, kids with two mums or two dads, and other varieties of family makeup, all looking happy in the sun with wild young party boys and girls next door, all getting on fine. We get to see queer men and women of all ages, there's space for our elders, who often don't find room in the scene, Rainbow Youth was out there, and trans-folk know they are safe in a welcoming environment. You could see people from every ethnic group you see in everyday NZ, except we knew on this day that they were all part of the family.
Seeing so many people with the new Get it On! "Rip Roll Ride" tattoos, over 1,500 we think, was fantastic, and great to see all the condom packs being picked up. The NZAF survey-tent seemed to get busy early and stay busy, so we will know even more about what HIV is doing in the world of men who love men, which is a good thing.
This sort of event doesn't just show us the wonderful variety that queer Auckland has, it helps build and strengthen it. After so much bad news recently, with homophobic attacks in Christchurch and up in Mangawhai, it is good to see the positive side of life. And it's good to see so many straight friends and family hanging out and just being there with us. There is strength in numbers.
We're not one neat tidy group that can be put into a box and labeled - but we are an untidy network of communities and groups, and that's just fine.