Mainstream media outlets often focus almost solely on John Key’s appearance at the annual Get it On! Big Gay Out, but there’s so much more to the day – and this year’s edition of the BGO, the event’s 15th, was no exception.
Even the intermittent drizzle didn’t put a damper on the family-friendly event, with thousands of visitors of all ages packing Pt Chevalier’s Coyle Park to enjoy the many attractions on offer.
Steven Oates, dressed as a giant chipmunk, was once again emcee for the day, coordinating a mixed bag of stage shows which ranged from the good – like the Cook Island dancers – to the not-so-good – like Jo Cotton’s new band (a TrueBliss reunion this was not). The usual drag acts, always a crowd favourite, put on a predictably solid performance.
And the dance tents proved extremely popular as both a shelter from the wet weather and a party hub, with punters packing out the tents by the day’s end. As well as the plethora of baby gays and adorable dogs in rainbow costumes, one thing that was heartening to see at this year’s Big Gay Out was a push towards activism. Gay marriage, adoption and wharfies’ rights were all causes being addressed by stallholders, while non-political groups such as the Gay Classic Car Club and TAMS were also well-represented, with group members busy at work answering questions and recruiting newbies.
And as for John Key? Yes, our smiling Prime Minister was in attendance to toss around his empty soundbites. My personal favourites included his speech about youth suicide that not once mentioned GLBT youth in particular, and his happy proclamation that rates of HIV infection have lessened over the past year – which completely ignored the fact that rates of HIV infection among MSM are currently the highest in recorded history. Lest I be accused of one-sidedness, David Shearer’s speech was also cringe-inducing in its awkwardness, especially when he didn’t know whether to refer to a drag queen as ‘he’ or ‘she’. Still, at least he thinks that you should be allowed to get married, unlike some politicians I could name.
Rounding off the day, Aucklander Andreas Derleth took the crown in the Mr Gay New Zealand 2012 final, held at the Big Gay Out afterparty at Family Bar on K’Rd. Hunky 32-year-old Andreas, who hails from Germany but has called New Zealand home since 2008, describes himself as passionate, organised and efficient. “What possibly distinguishes me is my ability to bring people together,” he said on the Mr Gay New Zealand Facebook page. “My natural ability to interact with all kinds of people will enable me to build new bridges.” After beating out contestants Sylvain Taupenas, Aaron Gordon and Mr Gay Wellington Marcus Fenson for the crown, Andreas will now represent New Zealand at Mr Gay World, to be held in South Africa from 04-08 April – and if what he brought to the table at the Family Bar final is any indication, he’s in with a fighting chance! A fabulous end to a fabulously camp – if slightly damp – day.
Article | Anna Loren
Photos | Tux Hika