Asexuals march at 2018 Auckland Pride Parade

In a historic day for the New Zealand asexual community, a dozen aces from across New Zealand have become the first asexual group to march in the Auckland Pride Parade.

New Zealand asexuals make history.

The Asexuality New Zealand Trust was proud to march with other members of the New Zealand asexual community at the Auckland Pride Festival 2018 Pride Parade last Saturday evening. Members of the Trust prepared and distributed over 1200 of our Asexuality: An Introduction leaflets to members of the 25,000 strong crowd with the kind assistance of members of the asexual community. The dozen strong ace contingent was the first asexual group to march at the Auckland Pride Parade. Asexuals from across the country travelled to be part of history, with aces from as far afield as Dunedin making a long trip to be there.

The march represents a huge step forward for the visibility of asexuality in the New Zealand Rainbow Community and media. The Trust has received a number of inquiries for copies of the Asexuality: An Introduction pamphlet since the parade. Individuals interested in learning more about asexuality and organisations interested in distributing or using the pamphlet are encouraged to get in touch with us. We look forward to producing new material in the coming weeks, continuing to expand our website, and to marching again in next year’s parade!

The Pride Parade and Festival.

Now in its 6th year, the Auckland Pride Festival is a highlight of the New Zealand LGBTIQA+ festival. The festival is the successor to the groundbreaking Hero Parade, which ended in 2001 because of lack of funding after 15 years of celebrating the Rainbow Community following the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1986. The Parade was revived as the Auckland Pride Parade in 2013 as part of Auckland Council’s Auckland Pride Festival. The Parade has remained popular, attracting between 25,000 and 50,000 visitors a year.

The Parade, which attracted over 3500 hundred participants and 25,000+ onlookers this year, was the culmination of two weeks of cultural events, concerts, plays, panel discussions and parties celebrating the diversity and richness of New Zealand’s Rainbow Community. The Parade has, along with other high profile events such as the Big Gay Out and the Pride Gala (which bookends the festival along with the Parade), become a highlight of the Festival schedule.

The Festival aims to include all people “identifying as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex, takatāpui, whakawāhine, tangata ira tāne, fa’afafine, fakaleiti, akava’ine, māhū, vaka sa lewa lewa, rae rae, fiafifine, fakafifine, palopa, kathoey, hijra, baklâ, genderfluid, genderqueer, pansexual, asexual, queer and questioning” and their allies. Numerous large Kiwi companies contributed floats and staff to the parade to promote their Rainbow-positive workplace policies.

Kiwi singer Ladyhawke performing from the Air New Zealand float the 2018 Auckland Pride Parade (Photo Credit: RNZ).

The theme of this year’s festival was “Rainbow Warriors: Pride and Peace”. The Chair of Auckland Pride, Lexie Matheson, noted that “last year’s 30th anniversary of homosexual law reform reminded us, human rights – and especially LGBTIQ+ rights – have been hard won, and often against the most virulent opposition.” She added that while New Zealand is an island of stability and peace, globally “our Rainbow communities are in the firing line again” as oppression and intolerance of sexual and gender diversity backslides amongst the rise of extremist politics.

Reflecting the tolerance and acceptance Rainbow rights enjoy in New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern opened and walked in the parade as part of the Young Labour Party’s contingent. The PM’s participation drew international attention. Her appearance came nearly 19 years after PM Jenny Shipley made history by being the first New Zealand Prime Minister to attend a pride parade (attending the 1998 Hero Parade, in which she did not march). Former PM Helen Clark, during her time as Leader of the Opposition, had visited the parade several times during the 1990s. National PM John Key made several high profile visits to the Big Gay Out.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern with Auckland Pride Co-Chair Lexie Matheson opening the 2018 Auckland Pride Parade (Photo Credit: RNZ).

By actively promoting and raising awareness of asexuality, the Trust hopes to stand with the Festival in promoting tolerance towards diversity of sexuality and gender in New Zealand and worldwide. Our presence at Rainbow community events is an important step towards building strong and mutually beneficial relationships with other groups in the LGBTQIA+ world and reaching out to educate our society.

We have been enormously grateful for the support we’ve received from the asexual community in New Zealand and the encouragement we got from the crowds and other marches on the night. We can’t wait to get out there again in the future.

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