Billed as New Zealand’s 'largest and loudest carnival of change and diversity,' this year’s Auckland Pride Festival lived up to all of its hype: Ponsonby Road came alive. The streets were festooned with flags, bright lights and swathed in a rainbow of colourful and diverse parade entries.
The climax of Pride Week 2017 stole the hearts of the thousands of Aucklanders there to witness this celebration of love. The strength and passion of the New Zealand LGBTQI+ community was on show and they lapped up the all of the cheers, blown kisses and hugs from the admiring public. Sequins and lights adorned the parade floats, drag queens owned the pavement, and colourful costumes shone throughout the night.
The theme for this year’s festival was 'Pride and Progress' or '…a celebration of the outstanding social changes and cultural achievements of New Zealand’s LGBTQI+ community.' From remembering those in the LGBTQI+ community who have fought hard for social change to the need for further equality, it was clear that this year’s Pride Parade acknowledged the pioneering spirit of LGBTQI+ in New Zealand.
Not many parades can make you feel part of something meaningful while being able to join in on the festivities. As a Pride Parade first-timer I was taken back by the true sense of community and self-expression.
It was amazing to be able to let go of your own inhibition and party the night away as if you were one of the more than 50 entries in this year’s parade. Businesses, charities and social groups of every affiliation and creed banded together to support a cause that means so much to so many people, both here and around the world.