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2007 HERO Festival Launch - the speech

Mon 5 Feb 2007 In: Events

Candice Collier and Di Stanaway of the HERO BMG at the launch Auckland's HERO launch at the Maritime Museum last Friday evening was a chance to showcase a Festival for all ‘City of Sails' LGBT. Here's HERO Trustee Michael Bancroft's introductory speech at the event. Kia ora tatou, haere mai i te whanau, I te manuhiri Talofa, malo e lelei, kia orana, namaste, neih hou, Goie dag, Shalom, bon dia, bienvenue , Family, friends, visitors, special guests, HEROES… welcome! I am delighted to speak to you on behalf of the HERO Trust and Brand Management Group. In the late 80's and early 90's our community and particularly gay men were in something of a devastation and despair mode. HIV and AIDS seemed to be taking hold; illness and death were all around. The AIDS Foundation was fighting to get the Education and Prevention message out into the whole community. Support groups were vital. Then in 1991 Rex Halliday arrived with a vision of HOPE. He took hold of it and gave us HERO. It could only happen because the AIDS Foundation supported him, Rex energised literally hundreds of volunteers and in spite of lots of challenges and opposition also convinced the wider community to give sponsorship money too. And from there HERO has grown… Hero Parties, Hero Parades (1996), Hero Festivals, Heroic Gardens, the Hair Event, Big Gay Out (2000), Wigs on the Waterfront, Hero debates, Hero Women and Flirt Parties… and smaller but equally significant events like Hero Bowling, Hero Swimming, Hero Tennis, Hero Art Exhibitions… before and after parties at the various clubs. The Hero Festival has continued in one form or another right through to 2007. The Hero Trust, the Hero Brand Management Group has sought to protect, maintain and grow the brand and the festivities. HERO has had its critics, detractors and scandals. HERO became a brand which seemed to convey anything but Hope and Celebration. The mere mention of HERO had people from inside and outside of the GLBT rushing for their pens and microphones. Sadly a few still do, but their effect is minimal…and contrary to recent outbursts, I can assure you that HERO and the AIDS Foundation have a very good working relationship…it came as a surprise to both parties to hear that we were hassling this year's Big Gay Out organiser (the NZAF!) Four years ago it seemed the best solution to let HERO die or at least to change its name. As always there were and are people among us who wanted to keep the HERO vision alive and have done so. The HERO festival has grown to provide a platform for much greater expression and more involvement from our community in all its diversity…. The Trust and BMG see HERO as an umbrella through which existing events can be maintained and improved and new events nurtured. The GLBT community creates each Hero festival now. The 2007 Festival sees at least five totally new events: The ALL GAYT Access Exhibition Drag Aerobics The Brian Andrews Photographic Retrospective the Heroic Feet exhibition It's a D Thing (a jaunt through Lesbian history) There's also more community involvement in the Party with various activities being hosted by Lesbian, Transexual and HIV Positive sectors. Do you realise that this year's Hero Programme including listings in Express   

Credit: Michael Bancroft

First published: Monday, 5th February 2007 - 12:00pm

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