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12,000 picnicked and partied at Big Gay Out

Sun 14 Feb 2010 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback

6pm: Police estimate 12,000 glbt people, families and friends packed into Auckland's Coyle Park for today's Get It On Big Gay Out picnic and fun day. Sandwich: PRime Minister John Key on stage with Buffy is on the video at the bottom of this page] He received polite applause, as did Labour leader Phil Goff who restated Labour's commitment to glbt issues after Chris Carter listed the party's legislative initiatives which have benefited gays. Newly-arrived gay American ambassador David Huebner is also at the Big Gay Out. He took a moment to be photographed with the gay and lesbian Labour MPs. Prior to the politicians' speeches comperes Buffy and Bimbo and Steven Oates have been hosting entertainments, including a dog and owner look alike competition and a kids' makeshift drag pageant. A notable feature of this year's Big Gay Out has been the number of people sporting camp and colourful parasols providing protection from the sun, which continues to break through the cloud cover, and insurance against the lessening threat of light rain. 2.30PM: Key relaxed, Banks nervous, at BGO Two of the country's highest ranking conservative politicians have been working the crowd at the Get It On Big Gay Out this afternoon, one appearing relaxed surrounded by glbt people, the other clearly ill at ease. At the wheel: Auckland mayor John Banks A very laid back Prime Minister John Key is mingling and shaking hands with those at the picnic and party day, while Auckland Mayor John Banks, who made a brief tour of the event, seemed wary and less comfortable chatting. GayNZ.com reporters understand that several people had been less than complementary to Banks, who has a long history of anti-gay politics and broadcasting. However, when asked by our reporter Banks said he felt "very good" at the Big Gay Out and "everyone's been nice to me." The NZ AIDS Foundation managed to get Banks behind the wheel of one of their Get It On signwritten mini-cars for a staged photo op. A full contingent of gay and lesbian MPs and those who have traditionally attended gay events are now circulating around the park. They include Labour leader Phil Goff, gay Labour MPs Charles Chauvel, Chris Carter and Grant Robertson and lesbian MP Maryan Street and the Greens' gay MP Kevin Hague. National is represented by the all straight female contingent of Nikki Kaye, Melissa Lee and Pansy Wong. 1.20PM: Colourful BGO gets into full swing Coyle Park is becoming a sea of colourful people, aromatic food and pumping music as today's Get It On Big Gay Out gets in to full swing. GayNZ.com reporters say the number of people is markedly rising and there are now periods of hot sun interspersed with cloudy periods and overall high humidity. Moments ago the area resounded to the roar of motorcycles as a posse of Dykes on Bikes did a circuit of the park and delivered drag queen Tess Tickle to the park. National MP Nicky Kaye, who represents the country's gayest electorate, Auckland Central, has been on site since midday and senior Labour MP Chris Carter is accompanied by his partner, Peter Kaiser. Labour and the Greens have set up information booths amongst the wide variety of stalls which are staffed by numerous glbt organisations including the Charlotte Museum, OutLine, UniQ, The Quilt Project and the Long Yang club. Although there are few extravagantly costumed folk in the park yet the scene is a colourful one with many children enjoying the party and picnic atmosphere. 12.15PM: Crowds converge on Big Gay Out Hundreds of glbt people and their families are now converging on Auckland's Coyle Park for the Get It On Big Gay Out, part of the OurFest programme of events celebrating glbt pride and diversity. The weather, which had some worried, has largely stabilised with patches blue sky appearing through the cloud cover and occasional welcome skiffs of cooling misty drizzle relieving warm temperatures and high humidity. Despite heavy drizzle and light showers overnight and earlier this morning the park is firm underfoot and the roads and paths have already dried out. Many groups pf people have already set up their picnics around the park and glbt organisations and commercial stall holders have cranked up their food, artifact and information stands. The party tents are already pumping out bass-heavy music and the main entertainment stage is ready to present entertainment and speeches throughout the afternoon. Parking along Pt Chevalier Road is already bumper to bumper as far as Dignan Street but there are still plenty of kerbside parks in the side streets. 10.10AM: Big Gay Out will go ahead as weather lifts Despite damp weather the Get It On Big Gay Out will proceed as planned, according to advice from the NZ AIDS Foundation. Intermittent drizzle continues to fall in central Auckland but the Foundation believes this will not dampen people's spirits. Final preparations are well underway for the event, the biggest in terms of crowd numbers on the New Zealand glbt calendar. Stallholders, including GayNZ.com, are currently setting up their information and product stands and the entertainers slated for the main stage this afternoon include Annie C, Cindy of Samoa, Mika and Ramon Te Wake. Prominent politicians who will press the flesh at Coyle Park include Prime Minister John Key, Labour leader Phil Goff and Auckland City mayor John Banks, along with most of the country's out gay and lesbian MPs. GayNZ.com will report live from the Big Gay Out throughout the afternoon.     7.45AM: Weather unsettled, park damp for Big Gay Out Although Coyle Park, site for today's Get it On Big Gay Out, is "a little damp underfoot" the drizzle has stopped and the event is, at this stage, going ahead as planned. Yesterday's preprations for the Big Gay Out A spokesperson for orgsnisers the NZ AIDS Foundation says a final decision will be made at 10am but for now the annual Auckland glbt family picnic day will proceed as planned. "We're expecting a great day," says the NZAF. "A few showers may dampen the day but not people's spirits." The spokesperson says there are plenty of covered areas for people to shelter in if the drizzle returns and the marquees are larger than in previous years." 7.30AM: Low cloud and drizzle start BGO day Heavy low cloud and light drizzle are greeting waking Aucklanders this morning but there is as yet no word on whether the huge Get it On Big Gay Out glbt picnic day will proceed. Workers and volunteers were at the Coyle Park site yesterday making advance preparations and a number of tents and marquees have been erected in preparation for the annual event. This morning's Met Office forecast for today predicts "long sunny spells, odd shower about, breezy westerlies" and temperatures as high as 25 degrees. The NZ AIDS Foundation, organisers of the Big Gay Out, had indicated several days ago, when the forecast for today began to include showers, that they would make a decision on whether or not to proceed by 10 o'clock this morning. So far the Foundation's official BGO spokesperson has not been available for comment.     On the video below: New Zealand Prime Minister John Key's speech on stage at the 2010 Get it On! Big Gay Out.        

Credit: GayNZ.com Daily News staff

First published: Sunday, 14th February 2010 - 7:18am

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