Every year at the start of Auckland’s Pride Festival, the city’s best-dressed get together for the opening night Gala. 

This year we went along and took some pics of the stand-out guests, and talked to them about fashion, Pride and conversion therapy.

Chloe

Chlöe

What are you wearing right now?

So what I'm wearing right now is what I wore for our run throughs [of the Gala show] today, which is my usual run-about wear when I don't have to do the full suit for Parliament. I, however, also have a drag king face on for sake of co-hosting the event today.

Describe your style in three words.

Comfortable, practical, black.

What purpose do you think fashion serves in the queer community?

I mean, first and foremost, it's incredibly subversive. So it's an opportunity to communicate things to other people who are part of the communities, which can completely go over the head or under the table of those who are not part of the communities. 

There's a massive importance with regard to just self expression, as well. And I think that's the thing with pride, right? You hear from certain people that the gays are everywhere now, why do we need to have pride? Why do they need to be celebrated? And I mean there’s obviously all of the things that we've discussed already, but there's also something to be said about enabling visibility. Pride is as relevant as ever while we're still fighting for our space.

What does the Pride festival mean to you?

So many things. I think first and foremost for me, as someone who swings all of the ways, growing up - and I think particularly going to a girls school, and knowing that I liked guys - it was in a heteronormative society pretty easy to try and closet other parts of myself. So pride is about visibility. It's about communication. It's about exploration and providing a place for everybody to fit in. 

What changes do you want to see for the rainbow community in the next three years?

Oh, my God. I mean, END CONVERSION THERAPY, it is so simple. There is a massive parliamentary majority for it. So there's that. 

There's the Births, Deaths, Marriages legislation, which would enable our trans whānau to self identify. There's more funding for affirming surgery. Then there's all of the other things which I think transcend all boundaries in terms of making sure that people have mental health services that are fit for purpose, that we have housing, that everybody is able to live in dignity with an income that doesn't undermine that. 

Piripi

Piripi

Describe your style in three words.

I'll do two. Tino rangatiratanga. I only ever wear red, black and white. I'm here for Māori sovereignty and that’s my kaupapa.

What purpose do you think fashion serves in the queer community?

For someone like me who's quite an anxious guy, it's a way to express and speak without actually speaking. Well that’s why I dress up the way I do.

What does Pride mean to you?

I'm on the Pride board, my focus is working towards a more inclusive, intersectional Pride. So it's really amazing to be a part of that and to be able to do my bit to move in that direction.

Joshiua

Joshiua

What are you wearing?

I'm wearing this motocross x freak show look. And I'm wearing it because I'm performing as a part of NYMPHO, which is a queer club night. It's all about gender euphoria and sexual liberation. So I made my outfit to kind of fuck with people's perception of sexuality and body and gender.

What purpose do you think fashion serves in the queer community?

I think fashion is how we get to decide who we are. And kind of control. Not a lot of people talk about this, but I think that fashion is how we control how people see us because we get to choose to look visibly queer or we get to choose to look feminine or choose to look masculine. So I guess for me, it gives me a sense of control of how I'm perceived by other people.

What does it mean to be part of Pride?

I grew up in a small town where there weren’t really any queer people, there were gay people, but there were no queer people. And so to be a part of Pride now and be a performer for Pride is kind of like a nice full circle moment.

Micheal

Micheal

Describe your style in three words.

Horny business casual.

What purpose do you think fashion serves in the queer community?

I think it gives people a place to talk about themselves to other people. I think it's a meaningful representation of who we are, and allows us to navigate very different environments on a day to day basis. 

What does Pride mean to you?

I think it means being authentic and present in myself and honouring who I am as a person. I guess as well, to know that that exists so differently for so many people.

What changes do you want to see for the rainbow community?

I want to see us honour Te Tiriti. I want to see us champion our trans whānau. And I want us to work more actively in the Pacific to decriminalise homosexuality. 

Mark

Mark

Describe your style in two words.

HIV activist.

What are you wearing today?

Today, I'm kind of a walking billboard. So I'm making a lot of people notice me and hopefully get them to learn something from what I'm presenting.

What changes do you want to see for the rainbow community?

The elimination of HIV and stigma. 

Blaise

Blaise

What are you wearing?

So I am wearing a gray pair of undies. I'm also wearing some mesh shorts, a lot of glitter, and a Trevor Project eye palette. I'm wearing this because I play a character called Sex Bot in Gays in Space, which we will be performing at the Gala tonight.

Describe your style in two words.

Miscellaneous, conventional and colorful.

What does fashion mean to you?

Fashion is something that I use almost as armor. When I dress, I like to think about the situations I'll be going into for the period of time that I'll be wearing the clothes. So if I were to go to a queer event, I may wear something a bit more feminine. I might wear a flouncy top or a blouse or a skirt. But if I'm going to like meeting for work, then I'll wear something that's more conventional and more palatable.

What does Pride mean to you?

Oh, wow. That's a big one. Authenticity, celebration and a connection to our whakapapa as queer people. I work for the New Zealand AIDS Foundation, so Pride to me is a lot about commemorating where we've come from, and celebrating the lives of people who have allowed us to get to the place that we are today.

What changes do you want to see for the rainbow community?

BANNING CONVERSION THERAPY. I would love to see a banning of conversion therapy. I would love to see the access of health care and mental health care for trans folk, non binary folk and gender diverse folk. And I would also like to see an increase in funding for the HIV sector.

 

Check out the full Auckland Pride schedule here.