Brisbane community celebrates with Pride

REBEKAH ROENNFELDT

The LGBTIQA+ community and their supporters had a lot to celebrate at the 27th Brisbane Pride March and Fair Day on September 22.

Brisbane Pride President Deeje Hancock

Brisbane Pride President Deeje Hancock welcomes marchers to the 2018 Pride March and Fair Day. Photo: Rebekah Roennfeldt

It was the first time the event, which is the biggest LGBTIQA+ event in Queensland, has been held since the marriage equality bill was passed in the Australian parliament last December.

President of Brisbane Pride Deeje Hancock said while the bill was a triumph to celebrate there was still work to be done for the LGBTIQA+ community’s more vulnerable members. 

“Today is really truly one of the biggest celebrations because it’s the first Pride after equality and that was a major, major battle that our community won with help and support from allies, but we’ve got a long way to go,” Mr Hancock said.

“I’m always aware of the fact that in this community I’m the most privileged person… but I have a voice and I can use that for those who have it harder,” he said.

“The transgender community needs our support.”

Politicians including Brisbane MP Trevor Evans and the Green’s Larissa Waters addressed the crowd before the march began.

One of the many organisations marching was the Metropolitan Community Church, lead by Pastor Alex Pittaway.

Pastor Pittaway recently relocated from Sydney and said his first Pride March in Brisbane was a great experience, despite an altercation between his church’s marchers and the event’s small group of Christian protestors.

“It’s been incredible, it’s been a lot more intense than I expected,” he said.

Pastor Alex Pittaway and Metropolitan Community Church members at Brisbane Pride

Metropolitan Community Church Pastor Alex Pittway said he wanted to show that the church could be an accepting place for LGBTIQA+ people. Photo: Rebekah Roennfeldt

“We had an altercation at the start of the parade with some anti-gay Christians.”

“And so our church just said you know what, we are not going to let this church, these Christian people who call themselves Christians to preach hate to the people gathered here, so we put ourselves [up] as human shields and we just drowned out [the protest] with noise and love.”

Pastor Pittaway said the church’s presence was their way of showing that the church could be an accepting place for LGBTIQA+ people.

“We are here today as a church that is here to show to the LGBT community, who have usually been persecuted by the church, that there is a church that is standing up for them, there is a church that fully accepts LGBT people, a church that believes that LGBT people are children of God,” he said.

“People… just hugged me and just said ‘thank you for being here’, so it’s people who have only known hatred from the church, [for them] us being here can be a voice for something different.”

The Pride March began in Fortitude Valley and culminated in New Farm Park, where the Fair Day was held.

The fair featured two stages with musical acts headlined by Australian Idol contestant Anthony Callea, as well as local performers and DJs.

They were also food and drink stalls, and a range of stalls run by community organisations such as family legal services, RACQ and mental health organisations like Headspace.

One of the larger stalls was run by Wendy Bird, a volunteer-based community group that runs inclusive all ages events.

Their stall at the Pride Fair was designed as a ‘chill-out’ space and also offered a place for smaller organisations to interact with the community.

Brisbane Pride 2018 marchers

Thousands marched down Brunswick Street in a show of Pride, support and rainbow colours for the 2018 Brisbane Pride March. Photo: Rebekah Roennfeldt

Queer Readers was one of those organisations.

Queer Readers co-convenor Bonnie Pimm said she was grateful to have the opportunity to have a place to talk about her work, and to discover what other people in the community were doing.

“I have to say it’s actually been a really good experience and the best thing is having services like Wendy Bird giving free space to these volunteer organisations, you know, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to have a presence anywhere in here so it’s been great,” Ms Pimm said.

“And it just sort of lets everyone know who’s out there ‘cos I’ve not heard of some of these things despite, you know, reading gay mags and reading different websites and belonging to different groups,” she said.

“But you don’t hear about it and you come in and you see everyone and it’s just great.”

Ms Pimm said the fair had greatly improved since she first started attending the event.

“It’s improved so much since, you know, the bad old days, you know, when there was no one here and there was dirt and just a dust bowl,” she said.

Writer and Wendy Bird volunteer Wolfram J VK said he had been attending Brisbane Pride for years, and he had enjoyed seeing so many new people at the event this year.

“I’ve been with a lot of people today who this is their first Pride, so that’s a cool experience, it’s a new experience for me showing people their first Pride,” he said.

He said the event would benefit from having cotton wristbands that attendees could keep, as opposed to the paper wristbands used.

“If we were going to an actual festival, you’d get like a festival wristband or something.”

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