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A big gay rainbow shone out over Auckland for the annual Big Gay Out yesterday. And being an election year, a rainbow array of politicians scrambled to be seen and heard at one of the biggest gay events of the year.
Now in its 15th year, morning rain clouds cleared in time for the celebration of queer culture at Coyle Park in Pt Chevalier today.
Drag queens, families, loved-up couples and friends made up a crowd of thousands under the hot sun.
Prime Minister John Key, a regular attendee, arrived fresh from seeing Australia's leader Tony Abbott.
He used his time on stage to call for people to vote National, but afterwards said the day was not about politics.
"There's going to be a range of political views and its not actually a political event, it's just a celebration of diversity in New Zealand."
Not to be outshone by Mr Key, Labour leader David Cunliffe took the stage to push for the red vote before making his way around the crowd for photo opportunities.
"It's got bigger and bigger but the essential atmosphere hasn't changed. It's a been a day of celebration and day of friendship," he said.
The Green Party and Auckland mayor Len Brown also jumped on the bandwagon but the mayor was greeted by both cheers and boos on stage.
A lone protester stood with a sign calling on the mayor to stand down.
Yolanda Soryl, who flew up from Christchurch to attend the celebration, said it was great that politicians feel the need to schmooze and win over the gay community.
"In the past they wouldn't have given a toss about the gay vote. Now they know we are part of society."
The Big Gay Out is a day to celebrate for the gay and bisexual community.
"The whole rest of the year we live in the straight world and today this is our world. Straight people are welcome but we are the norm."
The country's attitude to the gay community has changed considerably since she came out in 1986. "You could never imagine a day where gay people come together and everyone would be celebrating and we have marriage equality."
Big Gay Out is part of the The Auckland Pride Festival which opened on February 7 and features 70 events.
- The Dominion Post
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