Three weeks of celebrating LGBT pride started on Friday in Christchurch, New Zealand, the first Christchurch Pride since the earthquake that seriously damaged the city 20 months ago.
Christchurch Pride organiser Anne Nicholson said the LGBT community had significantly decreased since the earthquake as people have moved away.
Several people told stuff.co.nz that the exodus was due to the loss of gay-friendly venues in the city since the earthquake, which killed 185 people and destroyed hundred of buildings.
Christchurch’s one gay club Cruz on Lichfield Street was flattened by the building next door collapsing onto it. Thankfully the club was closed at the time and nobody was hurt.
Cruz reopened in a much smaller space on the corner of Peterborough and Victoria Streets. The owners admitted ‘the new club is nowhere near big enough to meet all the needs of our customers’ but promised ‘we are working as fast as we can to restore normality to the city’s gay entertainment scene’.
Christchurch Pride opened on Friday with a family-friendly fair and a masquerade party and will include a hike, mountain-biking, HIV workshop, bingo game, rock climbing, ‘bears’ drinks, movie night, talks, gender diversity dinner, quiz night and art exhibition.
'Pride12 is a chance for the community to have a break and enjoy themselves after the trying times over the last year and a half, which have left many of us anxious and under pressure,' said the organizers.
'It’s also a chance for the queer community to reconnect with one another. The quakes fractured the Christchurch community and the queer community along with it. They took away so much of our infrastructure, the places we went and the activities we did to connect with each other. We hope Pride12 will be a big step towards rebuilding that.'
Watch a trailer for documentary Men Like Us about gay men in New Zealand, being shown on Friday 16 November during Christchurch Pride: