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12,000 attend Big Gay Out (+ VIDEO)

Tue 13 Feb 2007 In: New Zealand Daily News

Brilliant sunshine, family spirit and a party atmosphere helped swell attendance figures to an estimated 12,000 at this year's seventh annual Big Gay Out event in Auckland. Held Sunday 11th February, the Big Gay Out was organised and sponsored by the New Zealand AIDS Foundation and Marquis Condoms as a vehicle for raising HIV awareness, building strong communities, and encouraging safe sex behaviour among gay and bisexual men – who remain the most at-risk group for HIV transmission within New Zealand. NZAF Executive Director Rachael Le Mesurier described Sunday's Big Gay Out as the best yet. “This is a unique opportunity for us to reach so many gay and bisexual men with the safe sex message,” she says. “As well as being aware that 45% of New Zealand's gay male population live in Auckland, we also know that people travel from all over the country to attend what has become a major event on the glbt community calendar.” Organiser Larry Jenkins is delighted at the turnout for the day of celebration and affirmation of New Zealand's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities. The well-behaved crowds came early for the event's noon kickoff, and numbers remained high throughout the day. “We really tried to have something for everyone this year with the layout,” Jenkins says. “The stallholders turned up in droves, with more food concessions, giving us a real market feel. At one end of the park we had a nice big space for the guys to party, thanks to Family Bar, which worked really well – that was the ‘party within the party'! At the other end, Buckwheat and the whole crew did a fantastic job on stage keeping the diverse crowd entertained there.” Big Gay Out was also a busy day for NZAF's health promotion teams, with the launch of a new “Safe Sex Txt” service for gay and bisexual men. The Gay Men's Health military-themed “Basic Training” tent and the Pacific Peoples Project's “Safe Sex Beauties” marquee provided safe sex information. Special guests on the day included Prime Minister Helen Clark, Opposition Leader John Key, Labour MPs Winnie Laban and Judith Tizard, National MP Pansy Wong, and Mayor of Auckland Dick Hubbard, who officially opened the event. Conservation Minister Chris Carter and his partner of 33 years Peter Kaiser, also present, were honoured with a cake celebrating their civil union on Saturday. “We'd like to thank everyone who came along to enjoy the day, our wonderful volunteers, and of course our sponsors without whom we wouldn't have such a great event,” says Larry Jenkins. “A big thank you in particular to Marquis Condoms, who sponsored the stage, and Orcon Internet who sponsored our Gay Men's Health tent.” A video clip of Chris Carter speech on stage at the Big Gay Out is shown below. Helen Clark's speech is also available, by clicking the link below.     Ref: (m)

Credit: News Staff

First published: Tuesday, 13th February 2007 - 12:00pm

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