New Zealand Aids Foundation
The biggest, gayest, safest Big Gay Out event yet.
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.
Solution: 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.
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.
Creating the connection: 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.
Fundraising goals smashed by over 40%
Funds increased by 30% year-on-year
45% increase in the number of marketplace stalls