The Big Gay Out is an annual event organised by the New Zealand AIDS Foundation (NZAF). Rachael Le Mesurier, NZAF Executive Director says the Big Gay Out is "a key part of creating safe and supportive environments for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, takatapui and transgender communities."
The Big Gay Out, now in its ninth consecutive year, has extensive political support with the attendance of the Prime Minister, John Key, the Leader of the Opposition Phil Goff, Green Party MP Kevin Hague and Mayor of Auckland, John Banks all confirmed.
The Big Gay Out regularly attracts a large gay, lesbian, bisexual, takatapui and transgender crowd who, along with their families, friends and neighbours, arrive ready for a colourful day in the park. In previous years attendance has been in excess of 10,000 people. The scorching summer weather has been offset by one of the Big Gay Out's most popular events, a Slip 'n' Slide, which will return this year. The 18m long slide which sits on a gentle slope is a traditional water slide that has been enhanced by water-based lubricant from the NZAF's lubricant supplier Blue Shield. The New Zealand Fire Service will be present at the Big Gay Out to hose sliders off afterwards, blending sliding with safety and good community relations as they use the opportunity promote smoke detectors and fire safety to event goers.
The idea of blending safe, creative, fun activities with essential awareness raising is central to the Big Gay Out. The NZAF Positive Health Services will be partnering with Auckland Sexual Health Services to provide free, fast and confidential syphilis testing on the day. Le Mesurier says "having syphilis increases your risk of contracting HIV. As HIV rates for gay and bisexual men continue to increase and the HIV epidemic becomes more complex, we need reach out to mass audiences with the message that the most effective way to prevent the transmission of HIV is the use of condoms and water-based lube."
Big Gay Out attendees who have exhausted themselves on the lube slide, in the throbbing dance tent or in the handbag throwing contest will be able to recuperate in the relaxing calm of the Caluzzi and Urge Beer Garden set up within the park grounds, or at one of 15 food outlets. In addition to other attractions, shopping at more than sixty stalls and a fun fair the main stage will feature performers including lesbian bands and drag divas who will be entertaining the assembled picnickers from 12.00 to 7.00pm.
Simon Harger-Forde, NZAF Director HIV Prevention and Communications says "the Big Gay Out is the highlight of the year for the communities we serve. We're incredibly excited about the goodwill and talent that people have shown us. Particularly in an economic downturn, it's inspiring to see the generosity and support that New Zealander's have for the Big Gay Out. This is going to be an exciting and fabulous day at the park in an amazingly supportive atmosphere."