I only know the Pride Parade is going to happen when my Couchsurfing host told me 2 weeks ago, he asked if I want to join the Green Party (the third largest political party in NZ) to march along the way. I accepted the invitation without any hesitation, as I haven’t been to any parade before, and being part of it would MEAN A LOT to me!
Once I arrive Auckland, I show up at the Green Party office and see a chariot under construction. I only know a bit of the idea of Green Party that they focus on Sustainability and Ecofriendly social development, as well as Social justice and Cultural integration. That’s why they are supporting the movement of LGBT Rights, and thanks to their support, NZ has already established the gay marriage legalization last year in 2013 (more than 70% NZ people support the movement), and became the first country in Asian-Pacific region to make it happen!
The Auckland parade started in the 80s, but it then stopped in the 90s due to a lot of reason. In 2013 before the legalization, the Parade came back again in February and it was a huge celebration. Then the law was passed in May 2013. This year it is the first year to gather all the supporters and celebrate together the success of the movement, we all expect it to be EPIC!
From designing the Chariot to really putting them altogether, it takes less than 2 weeks. Craig and his workmates are AMAZING! I help painting the chariot body as well as decorating it with feathers and ribbons. It looks really NICE, isn’t it?
Then on Saturday morning we pick up the tandem bike, decorate it and hook the chariot on. Craig and I are the “horses” to pedal hard and carry an important government official during the parade! Wait! Am I dreaming? A government official? YES…Craig tells me Metiria Turei will be standing in the chariot, and Russel Norman will be there too. They both are Co-leaders of the Green Party who is now working in the government. You can read the news about Russel Norman having a dispute with Collin Craig (a representative from conservative party who said some terrible things against LGBT community and Women):
Anyway, it is already a dream comes true to witness a parade, and then to be a part of it is SO COOL! It is not about naked in the parade, but surely we would like to be SEXY! After cycling for 5 weeks, I am proud to show off my massive thigh muscles by wearing a swimming shorts, where Craig shows off his chest hair! 😀
Riding on a tandem bike is FUN but obviously we both have to communicate well about changing gears, stopping and turning, we don’t want to fall in such remarkable day.
We arrive the starting point in Ponsonby Road at 6pm, where we come across SO MANY RAINBOW colors flags, costumes, cars…I can already feel the excitement here. Glad to see people are so free to express themselves, to show people who they are, to whom they love without any misunderstanding nor hatred. If you put yourself into a minority group within a community, you would know better how LGBT people feel: worries, frustration, depression, rejected…all sorts of negative feeling that shouldn’t be existed when they are just TRUE to themselves and love the people they want to love.
In a religious point of view, God doesn’t say he hates LGBT people, but He is totally against promiscuous sexual activities (as said in both Old and New Testaments). Jesus didn’t say anything about the objection of same sex relationship in any of the 4 Gospels, instead He taught us to Love one another. There are numerous ways to interpret the scriptures, and translating from original languages sometimes changes the meaning. No matter what version of the Bible you are believing in, or you are a Muslim or Buddhist or atheist, do LGBT couples really bother you if they practice monogamy? I would rather not to judge people, because if you step into their shoes, you don’t want to be judged too. God is the final judgment when the world ends, humans can’t be God, we are too little to do that. I reckon NOBODY would like to live in countries like North Korea or Saudi Arabia where people are suppressed by absolutism, and there are NO HUMAN RIGHTS AT ALL (for women in Saudi). Same case as minority groups in developed countries…everyone has their choices to live their own way, RESPECT is most important!
Back to the parade, it kicks off at 7pm and there are such a huge crowds gathering along the way. I am so honored to lead the Green Party parade team (although I am not part of it…haha, but I totally support their ideas!). We receive warm welcomes, applauses and screaming when we pedal forward, I have never been so JOYFUL in my heart. The reactions of audiences are not only doing it for fun, but expressing SUPPORT and ACCEPTANCE towards LGBT community, at least that’s what I feel.
Similar to the scene in Hunger Games when they teams are marching in on Chariots??
After our chariot finished the march, I go back to join the crowd to watch the remaining teams dancing and performing on the road!
We don’t go to any party nor pub after that, as we don’t drink and we are quite tired working on the chariot and pedaling today. I am glad that nobody asks me out as I really am not a party person. Having good conversation with my host walking home, and quiet moments to digest my feeling today is good enough for me!
I still feel a bit unreal to be a part of the parade as a traveler, but I will never forget my very first pride parade in Auckland! I don’t know how to thank Craig, who wraps up my NZ biking adventure in such gorgeous way! Will surely visit NZ again!