This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Homosexual Law Reform Act in NZ; for the most part we are a pretty enlightened bunch in New Zealand. However some of us still question the need for a Pride festival, so why do we need it?
A public event celebrating acceptance from the government and community is invaluable to those coming to terms with their identity as well as those who have fought so hard for our rights. It validates our sense of belonging and offers an opportunity to the wider community to show their support.
The festival also celebrates diversity in music, film, and theatre as well as the wider community, further enhancing the cultural diversity that we are so lucky to have in New Zealand.
The festival offers something for everyone, no matter your gender or sexual orientation, so allow me to list my top picks for 2016.
1. Big Gay Out
A fun-filled day for the whole family in Coyle Park. Refreshments and live entertainment make for an excellent day out. Arrive early to nab a good spot or stay late for the party. Featuring live performances by Samantha Jade, Buckwheat and of course Miss Ribena.
Coyle Park, Pt Chev, Feb 14, 12pm-7pm.
2. Woof Auckland Pride Dog Show
A fun and friendly day out in Western Park that you can enjoy alongside your best friend, with celebrity judges on hand to award prizes on the day. You can enter your dog into various categories and entry is by donation which goes to the SPCA.
Western Park, tomorrow, 2pm.
3. Bear Drag Race
Bears run down K Rd in heels. Need I say more?
Coco's Cantina, Feb 16, 5.30pm.
A highly skilled performance featuring cirque aerial acrobatics, "boylesque" and incredible drag artistes. The best part? You'll be seated right in the thick of the action.
ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre, Feb 17, 8.30pm.
5. Night of the Queer
If you've never attended a drag performance before, make this the one. With singing, dancing and aerial performances, this two-hour cabaret-style show will knock your socks off. Sure to be an incredible evening.
Tapac, Feb 10,11,12,13,14 and 18, 19, 8pm
6. ET Lux: Black Swan Productions
Over two beautiful acts, supernatural beings will take audience members on a journey told through choreography and cirque arts to guide you though your deepest fantasies.
LOT 23, Feb 13, 8pm.
7. Pride Parade
A concoction of art and politics in a spectacular array of costumes, floats and colourful characters. The perfect place to be on February 20, and the ideal event for families and LGBT supporters to enjoy a colourful 90-minute display from the Rainbow Community.
Western Park, Feb 20, 5pm.
8. Pride Dance Party
Round off the festivities with the biggest night in the Rainbow calendar, the Official Pride Dance Party. Dance zones, international and local DJs, and a drag show make this a night not to be missed.
Studio The Venue, Feb 20, noon-7pm.
• Grayson Coutts is a make-up artist who has worked with local and international stars.