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Decades on, founder still revelling in fair

Sat 12 Mar 2011 In: Out Games News View at NDHA

Des Smith standing proud in front of his stall One of the men who created Wellington's gay and lesbian fair is running a stall at Out In The Square, 26 years after the very first event up the road in the suburb of Newtown. Des Smith, now a youthful 71, is hosting a gardening stall at Civic Square today and is hard to miss in his vibrant rainbow wig. After ten years in charge of the popular event his partner warned him “if you run another one it's divorce”. He handed over to David Hindley, who is now incidentally the co-chair of the AsiaPacific Outgames. Surveying the crowd in Civic Square Smith tells Daily News the crowd at what his event has since morphed into, Out In The Square, has the same vibe as the gay and lesbian fairs of the 80s and 90s, but there is less diversity in age. “We were in Newtown and we used to get the local retired people come down,” he says. “It was such a popular event, we had people calling the school asking when the gay fair was on – straight people.” Another difference is that the fair doesn't attract the ‘bigots' it used to, saying in 1986 and pre law reform what they knew as the “t-shirt men” used to turn up in shirts emblazoned with “AIDS+AIDS+GAY,” and “Stop Homosexual Law Reform”. He has fond memories of the tenth fair, his final in charge, where they stretched the budget to cover stilt walkers and entertainers with suits made entirely from newspaper. Manning his garden stall Smith is pretty content with his legacy: “Overall, it's good to see it still going,” he says smiling. The Queen of the Whole Universe cast offer a glance of tonight's show Out In The Square continues till 5pm with continuous music and acts, including a flashmob demonstration from the Queen of the Whole Universe cast. There is a huge variety of stalls offering all kinds of gay pride wares and event information, plus food and treats. The police are running a stall manned by Diversity Liaison Officers where they are handing out their popular rainbow wristbands. Rainbow is the dress theme of the day, whether it be rainbow wigs, flags, bags, badges, hats or pets with rainbow collars. Plastic sunglasses of all colours are also the fashion item du jour, while newspapers are the favourite item for keeping the sun off, with one stall holder even turning one into a pirate hat to protect his head. Daily News staff - 12th March 2011

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Saturday, 12th March 2011 - 2:55pm

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