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The Auckland Pride Parade Pt1

Sun 21 Feb 2016 In: Events View at Wayback View at NDHA

If you couldn't be there, here's the Auckland Pride Parade through the eyes of our reporters. A glorious summer's day and the crowds are lining inner-city Ponsonby Road, initially on the shady side but eventually the sun-scorched eastern side too. The ribbon-cutting ceremony carries a frisson of history when one of the ribbon-cutters is Fran Wilde who, as a young MP thirty years ago went in to bat for gays for whom it was illegal to have intimacy. Her contribution to the freedom so many take for granted now should never be forgotten. Unfortunately the gravity of her appearance is sabotaged by the organisers who seem to have given her a pair of scissors you couldn't cut through tissue paper with. The winner with the fastest shears was deputy mayor Penny Hulse. Right from the start the parade, which kicked off earlier than last year, seems more colourful than last year. A lot of this is due to balloons. Balloons, balloons everywhere. But there's more primary colour and vivacity. It soon becomes obvious there's more noise too. The lighting budgets of last year have been replaced by sound system budgets. Biiiiig sound systems. The Dykes on Bikes roar off followed by the the 30 Years Proud float which gets off to a shaky start when their crew's individually mounted letter placards spell nothing recognisable or pronounceable. But they get it sorted and lead the parade down the street. A Fairfax reporter/photographer asks a reporter for confirmation of what the Homosexual Law Reform Bill was called and "if it made it not illegal any more." Good grief! From then on it's a bold, bright, noisy collage of images and assaults on the senses. The comically outsized artwork bras worn by the Charlotte Museum folk. "I've never had boobs this big before!" calls out Miriam Saphira. "Neither have I!" responds your gay male reporter, quite truthfully. The NZ Prostitutes Collective entry sports a placard saying "Jesus Loves Hookers". Tell that to the man with the religious placard. He reckons "God loves us all but he doesn't like sin and ultimately this parade is all about sin." He seems to be quite enjoying it. The NZPC float also has an elderly Marilyn Monroe shuffling along too. Deliciously subversive. Next up is Coca Cola, big and loud and young with athletic acrobatic chaps and just like their aspirational TV ads except live and on wheels. They seem to have their own media team capturing every energetic moment. Speaking of media, there are cameras, reporters, videographers and microphones everywhere. The Auckland Unitarian Church following in Coke's wake is a vision in restrained dignity. The LYC superheroes float is kinda cool but a serious struggle for the folk wrangling the huge, long rainbow flag cape away from traffic islands, snaggy pointy signs and the like. The Outline national phone counselling service did themselves up as drag rollercoaster riders, miming a wide-mouthed terror ride as their soundtrack screamed hysterically. "Because life's a rollercoaster and sometimes we need to give someone a call." The NZ Defence Force/Overwatch platoon marched with precision, crisp uniforms to the fore, civvies to the rear. Great loud cheers from the spectators but what are we to make of the STR8 MATE t-shirts... nice that they're showing us that str8 folk can support their glbti mates? Or a subliminal 'don't confuse me with my GLBTI MATES' signal? Jury's out. AUT's giant flowers were fresh and colourful but also perhaps an ironic reminder that for some the Pride Parade is too much of an exercise in artificiality and superficiality. The police pulled out all the stops this year and their presence was roundly cheered all down the parade route. Police Minister Judith 'Crusher' Collins looked relaxed, happy and colourful leading her 60-strong squad which included officers from as far away as Canterbury, dogs and handlers from Wellington, a mounted patrol, blaring sirens, a cuddly Kiwi Cop mascot and the cutest little RC toy cop car you've ever seen. Clearly the temerity with which the previous high-ups approached the very idea of publicly associating with parading homos has been consigned to the trash-heap of history. Part two of our summary of the parade will be published later today! Daily News staff - 21st February 2016    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Sunday, 21st February 2016 - 10:13am

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