Happy New Year, and welcome back to our blog! DPSN aims to build and bring together a community of people to engage in conversation about diversity, creativity and social change. In doing so, we hope to both achieve changes in attitudes about diversity, acceptance and inclusion as well as foster a leadership approach to social change. This year, we’re re-introducing our monthly ‘themes’ in the hopes of stimulating even more unique conversations.
This month’s theme is Pride. Our bloggers will reflect on their ideas around ‘pride’ and its shadow-side ‘shame’. We’re also keen for you to be part of the conversation, so please leave your comments on what pride or shame mean to you below, or jump over to our Facebook page and let us know what you think.
The annual Auckland Pride Festival runs from the 5th to the 21st of February this year, kicking off with an opening gala and regular events running throughout the month. They include the Big Gay Out, Pride Parade, PROUD party as well as a vast range of visual arts, film, literature, theatre, comedy, music, youth and sporting events (for more info check out the January issue of Express magazine, or click through to the Pride website).
Now entering its fourth year, the aim of Pride is to “enhance the mana and standing of our Rainbow Community…by providing a platform for our people to gather, to socialise, to be seen and heard, to be affirmed, to promote their own messages and to express themselves as they choose.”
According to the official Pride website, the festival as a concept stems from a series of public meetings that were held in 2011 with Auckland’s GLBTI community to explore how Auckland can actively support and recognise the strengths and diversity the rainbow community brings our city. Through a process of consultation and development, including political support from both local and national leaders, funding was secured to establish a two week inaugural Auckland Pride Festival and Parade. The next year, further funding was confirmed for a full festival with events aimed and local, national and international rainbow communities.
Last year’s festival saw more than 50,000 people turn out for the Pride Parade on Ponsonby Road and include floats from the Pacifika community, Labour and Green Party, Aids Foundation, a number of sports teams and, perhaps most impressively, the New Zealand Defence Force. Soldiers, sailors and Air Force staff turned out in uniform to show their support, including members of the “Overwatch” unit, which has been created specifically to support gay, lesbian and transgender Defence Force staff.
But Pride has not been without its controversy. Last year the parade was interrupted by several protesters from No Pride in Prisons, who were objecting to the inclusion of the New Zealand Police Force and Department of Corrections in the parade based on their treatment of Maori and trans prisoners. The group were forcibly removed by police and security, resulting in a fractured arm for one protester. Pride responded by issuing an apology after the event, stating that they “completely support the right to protest and, in this case, the protesters’ cause”.
There were also several complaints about the strong political presence at last year’s Big Gay Out, with several politicians using the day (and their speeches) to lobby for votes.
No matter what your political orientation, there is no denying that Pride is a loud and colourful celebration, which seems to stimulate some crucial conversations.
What do you think of this year’s Pride? Let us know in the comments below, or over on our Facebook page.