The challenge

The Ending HIV Big Gay Out is a non-profit LGBTQIA+ fair day that has been taking place annually since 2000. Created by the New Zealand Aids Foundation (NZAF), this wildly popular event brings together DJs, musicians, international artists, drag queens and drag kings to help raise awareness for HIV prevention and drive testing among the rainbow community. Our challenge for 2021: to create the ‘biggest, gayest’ live event yet in the middle of Pride Week, while also, of course, staying Covid-safe within the rapidly changing restrictions.

The idea

To build on the NZAF’s BGO legacy, this time around we wanted to celebrate the broader communities and to increase participation. To do this, we not only needed to make everyone feel safe and secure enough to express themselves, but safe enough to celebrate without the concern of Covid. This started in the planning phase, and it had to be implemented throughout every element of the event to ensure effective safety principles throughout.

The solution

Although the tickets were free, the online ticketing system we set up meant anyone who wished to attend the Auckland event had to register beforehand. This was specifically for tracing purposes to support the Ministry of Health as all attendees had to be scanned on arrival using a Covid tracer app.

We organised Big Gay Buses to minimise the event’s carbon footprint, and we cut down the need for physical cash by offering Eftpos at most stalls. We also offered free hand sanitiser and soap throughout the venue (along with sunblock!), and we made sure we catered for every community. There were mobility parking spaces, wide accessways and large toilets for guests with accessibility needs. 


We also catered for attendees’ furry friends with a dog-friendly area including a hydration station. On the entertainment side, we ensured that all our entertainers had access to the best tech and sound set-ups, the stall owners in the marketplace had all the support they needed, and we made sure our partners and clients were catered for. For example, we helped ANZ Bank create a chill-out area in front of the main stage, complete with spectacular drag artists for guest’s ultimate selfies! To sum it up: everyone had a safe, amazing time, from the partygoers in the ‘gayzebo’ area through to the showstoppers on stage.



The BGO hosted almost 16,000 registered revellers, we earned heaps of great PR from 15 media outlets, and our participation numbers and HIV testing numbers were notably higher to that of the previous year. The fundraising goals were smashed by over 40% and the funds increased by 30% year-on-year. There was also a 45% increase in the number of marketplace stalls.

In our post-event survey, 94% of the respondents said the BGO 2021 was a safe and inclusive space, and 92% said that it celebrated the diversity of the entire Rainbow community. Our social stats shone too with over 9,000 responses on Facebook, and over 43,000 visitors on the BGO website compared to just under 10,000 the previous year. In short, BGO was an unmitigated success across all counts. Now to raise the bar even higher next year...

Ready to craft a Covid-safe celebration that creates real connections and creative collaborations? Contact us now to partner up.

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