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The Pride Parade Experience

Mon 27 Feb 2017 In: Events View at Wayback View at NDHA

With the roar of Dykes on Bikes and the cutting of rainbow ribbons the 2017 Auckland Pride parade made its way down Ponsonby Road in a riot of colour, noise and sexualities. reporters Sarah Murphy, Cody Ward and Jay Bennie and photographer Andrea, exhaustively criss-crossing the parade from start to finish, from Three Lamps to Western Park, took in the sights and talked with participants and spectators. Leading all were the combined Tangata Whenua and Tangata Pasefika entries followed by Rainbow Youth, representing three communities within the glbti community which the overall Pride Festival has worked hard to ensure are as visible as possible in the annual celebration of glbti cultures and lives. Three young ones, Tahjai, Olive and Layne, walking with their whanau wrapped with rainbow flags and with rainbows painted on their cheeks were having a ball. "With came with our aunty, we love it! - it's a really chill vibe," grinned Tahjai, while aunty said: "They are the heroes" And Rainbow Youth included a number of 'new faces' this year, including youth from Whangarei and Tauranga. A new entry for 2017 followed, titled Unconditional Love it was a small group of parents, family and siblings of glbti people. Their giant red Love heart glowed in the setting sun. Parade Marshall Colin Narin was on duty keeping order and handing out rainbow flags: "Everyone love a man with a rainbow flag... This year to be at the start where it all builds up with momentum and excitement is great." Sporting lavender and green balloons, the colours of women's suffrage, the Women's Bookshop, a haven of feminist, lesbian and some wider glbti literature paraded past their Ponsonby Road shop, followed by singer Annie Crummer on the rather small and minimally decorated official Pride float. She was surrounded by a posse of gaily costumed dancers and stilt-walkers in feathers and rainbow colours and they in turn were followed by the first of the big banks whose presence was a major feature of the parade. ASB staff in corporate colours led the gay men's rugby team, the Falcons, which the bank sponsors. Something about them set off Dr Huhana Hickey's faithful four-legged companion Finn in a one-dog chorus of excited barking, and we've awarded him's Best Barking of the 2017 Parade award. Another first-time group represented deaf glbti people, a small group but one which seemed to be hugely appreciated by the many thousands lining the parade route. A rousing cheer went up for the Police entry which, despite pre-parade statements by the No Pride In Prisons activist group, did not attract any significant protest action which they and Corrections did for the last two years. No sign either of their Minister marching with them as Judith Collins so controversially did last year. But there were plenty of police dogs with rainbow bandannas and police horses in the rear. Superintendent Anna Jackson was pretty hyped up: "It's fabulous, such a great way to celebrate how far we've come. I joined in 1984 and we've come a very long way in terms of diversity and culture. I'm thrilled to be here. I'm an ally to all of my workmates." Those glbti workmates included lesbian Inspector Tracy Phillips and MTF transgender police officer Rhona Stace who ditched the uniform for something more occasion-appropriate, a dazzling blue cocktail dress accessorized with a tiara and sash proclaiming her to be Miss Demeanour. It wouldn't be a Pride Parade without someone squirting the crowd along the route and this time the honours fell to another first-time entry, the NZ Fire Service who seemed to get the vote of the VIP area for the hunkiest participants, or was that just co-MC Buckwheat husband-hunting (yet) again? A heads-up to the firefighter who rushed over to take a selfie with her: When Buckwheat says you're married to her you really are married to her! Less stately, but more energetic were the colourful Youthline folk and the roller-conga line antics of what the official media hand-out advised us were the Pirate City Roller Bladders, who defied OSH edicts by whirring and snaking along the route in a flash of skates and even did high-speed 'skate-jumps' over each other. We'd like to award them the 'OSH-defying acts of courage, skill and brazen flaunting with death' award but, feeling the need to stand up for literacy, they, or the parade PR people on their behalf, have been given our Best Parade Typo gong instead. Most Unicorns in a single parade entry goes to to the Bear NZ guys featuring the current Mr Urge Bear NZ 2017, Morro. At this point we decided we'd seen enough and with three quarters of the parade still to go we awarded the Best Male Hunk award to the un-named muscle guy (yes, we too can be shallow) marching with the Falcons rugby team, with runners up being bear par-excellence Morro and the stripped to the waist Island guy channeling Herb Ritts as he walked behind the Grey Lynn Tyreworx float. Then in a flurry of balloons, glitter, rainbow colors and the occasional silly hat came groups including Amnesty International who continue to speak up to highlight the plight of persecuted glbti people in parts of the world where their cultures and leaders seem to think making glbti people's lives sheer hell is the way the world is supposed to be. The Brass Bandits were the only bona-fide marching band in the parade and GALS sang their hearts out as usual. Amongst them a group of Celebrants marched in what was the only obvious nod to the hard-fought for Civil Unions and Marriage Equality legislative (and social) gains - discountng Buckwheat's instant selfie-marriage because the bride wasn't actually in the parade. Rather mischievously the parade programmers followed the celebrants with one of the only barbed socio-political piss-takes in the whole parade, focusing on a certain Wiri-based fundamentalist church leader whose views on homosexuality range from head-shakingly unhinged to smarmily vicious. His linking the Christchurch Earthquakes to homosexuality last year was flaky, even for him! We must, as we have done for the past two years, award our Best Balloons award, this time to the AUT entry for their seemingly block-long ropes of rainbow coloured balloons which provided one of the most impressively colourful sights of the parade. Terence Kaaka, whose business has donated trucking services to AUT, was loving it. He's only been out for the last two years and was marching with his partner and two children. "They're just as proud to be here as me. I'm proud to have them with me and they're happy that I'm happy... Being around other people I feel more comfortable, I'm proud." Now isn't that exactly what Pride is supposed to be all about? We'll take a post-parade, post-party breather and post the next part of our report shortly! Daily News staff - 27th February 2017    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Monday, 27th February 2017 - 10:03am

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