Last Saturday, Canberra’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) community come together and celebrated Fair Day – a grass roots event that is one of the biggest events on the annual LGBTIQ community calendar. Fair Day is one of the many events of the annual SpringOUT Pride Festival, a month long festival that has been running since 1999.
This was truly a celebration – where participants were treated to markets, food, and entertainment. It was an opportunity to connect with friends and family, and engage with community based organisations and services. There were sad moments as well as the community reflected on the loss of two members of the local community, with the Canberra’s Gay and Lesbian Qwire paying tribute to Luke Dorsett and his partner Roozbeh Araghi who were killed in last week’s Dream World tragedy. The performed a moving rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone.
Fair Day is just one of the events that is part of the SpringOUT Pride Festival. SpringOUT is Canberra’s queer cultural festival which affirms the pride, joy, dignity and identity of Canberra’s LGBTIQ communities through events of celebration. It works to enable individuals and groups within the community to discover, express and develop their artistic, cultural and political skills and potential. It encompasses a wide range of events – from bushdances, awards ceremonies, film screenings, family picnics, dance parties and walking groups. The festival runs for a month through October and November.
Some might wonder what the significance of this festival is for the broader community. While designed and targeted for our LGBTIQ community, we recognise that this community includes members of our families, our friends, school mates and work colleagues – this is our community that we need to acknowledge, support and celebrate. We all need to work to ensure that all members of our community are supported to reach their potential and live healthy and happy lives.
While the local LGBTIQ community does not face the same levels of overt discrimination and violence of past decades, more insidious forms of discrimination and intolerance prevail, and one of the consequences to this is the poor mental health outcomes for some in the LGBTIQ community. Although most LGBTIQ Australians do live healthy, happy lives, we need to understand that a disproportionate number experience worse mental health outcomes than other Australians. We also need to acknowledge that the broader community has work to do in embracing and celebrating diversity. The recent concerns around the potential negative tone of the debate around the equal marriage plebiscite have highlighted the work we all need to do to create an environment where all our community members are welcomed and celebrated.
And so, the SpringOUT Festival provides a fantastic opportunity for us all to celebrate the contribution made by the LGBTIQ community, learn more, have some fun and show solidarity and support for the diversity of our community. Find out more here and get along to one of the many events scheduled as part of the festival.
Photos by Stephane Breton published courtesy of the Canberra Springout Association Inc.