Perth Pride Should Be More Than Just Prams & Balloons

perth_421jmThe Perth Sisters would like to extend a public invitation for the Lord Mayor of Perth and Councillors to march in the 2014 Perth Pride Parade, as we believe, the presence of such VIP luminaries will encourage participation in the parade and increase the number of people attending as viewers, and we’d all love to see them there!

The Perth Sisters believe a Night Time Parade is a better fit for the GLBTI Community, the Northbridge Businesses, and the Wider Community. We also understand that over 80% of people prefer to have the night time parade brought back rather than attend a day time parade!

The Sisters think that having a night time adult lifestyle parade, followed by the fund raising Party, will also encourage attendance and enhance the atmosphere at both the Party and the Parade, as was the case in the past, which was not present at the 2013 day time Balloon and Pram Parade.

A better choice of venue, like the Perth Culture Centre would engage the crowd that attend the Night time event and perhaps lead to a return to the 70000+ crowd that attended the Night time event in previous years.

The OPI Sisters acknowledge the commitment of the PRIDE Board in attempting to re-invent our Festival. The current process we believe will have an excellent outcome and we commend the Board for giving the LGBTIQ Community the opportunity to be involved.

What do YOU want Perth Pride to be? Tell the Sisters in this survey.

CLICK HERE

It is great to see how well another of the Sister’s submissions has been received. I just hope the number of people interested in doing what is best for all the community outweighs those that are driving personal agendas and profit motives who want to impose their brand name conservative view of community on every one.

I’ve had a number of conversations over Xmas and New Year with people and am concerned with some of the tones being used and comments being expressed. Apparently, some people are pushing for Perth’s Pride Parade to be during the daytime so that “we are not over run with Asians”. I wish this “I’m not racist but” crowd would realise that word of mouth “advertising” is hugely important in Asian Cultures.

The City Of Perth (COP) need to be aware of this as sponsors as it undermines the COP’s advertising and tourism promotion of Perth City, as a cosmopolitan, tolerant and Cultural Capital in Asia and will continue the Perth’s Dullsville reputation for being very conservative in its approach to the region’s culture!

Brisbane has a multi cultural festival event for the South Asian region that have a very successful tourism policy and attracts millions of dollars every year. Perth’s LGBTIQ Community needs to shake it’s parochialism and xenophobic if it wants to attract tourists, and by extension their dollars, from South East Asia, China & the Indian Subcontinent.

It must be remembered the USA and Europe are not in our region and both of these regions are more economic pussies than the Tigers next door in Asia! The “old default setting” of an all white gay male and pram pushing lesbians only attitude, that some are pushing, needs to be discarded if Perth’s LGBTIQ Community is to have a future.

The LGBTIQ community should tap into revenue from TOURIST DOLLARS as well, after all, we are the ones screaming, “we want be part of the main stream” so let’s get some of the cream too, instead of just providing a free show and whinging about it.

Pride is the only Parade for LGBTIQ to be in and watch and is currently very 30 years ago! Pride Perth needs a transfusion of “wake up”. Parades, based on Balloons and Prams only, really don’t belong in the night club district of Perth which is how the COP is trying to sell Northbridge as the night time adult place of Perth.

It is clear the COP is trying to grow up Perth and it would be good if Pride WA could follow that lead!

It seems that Perth’s LGBTIQ Community has coasted along through the boomtimes while issues of racism and bti-phobia and the needs of HIV+ and disabled people have often been ignored and are considered irrelevant, and now the chickens are coming home to roost.

As an ESL teacher, All the schools I have worked for have employed Asian language speakers to be aware of websites and chat spaces to allow issues such as racism to be addressed before brand damage was done.

Mono-linguists in Perth seem not to realise that many of these racism incidents are up there on Asian language websites! Every time someone attends a group or event and is ignored or not spoken to then their take home message is that people in Perth are racists! Allowing people from Culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds to stand unspoken to, at LGBTIQ Events, which I have seen, is hardly a good way to promote tourism!

I’m concerned that in Perth we are so immune to racism, and bti-phobia that we have no idea the harm that is being done to our lgbtiq tourist market. The line “I’m not racist but” might be culturally “OK” here in Perth but I think visitors read that more as “I’m really trying to hide my racism but”!

I have seen with my own eyes many times tourists attending LGBTIQ groups and events who experience what I see as a fairly standard Perth approach where visitors or potential new members turn up and are ignored as they are not “pretty enough” or socially connected to be spoken to.

We have all read articles on sexual racism in which some members of the LGBTIQ Community attempt to excuse indefensible racism. The commonly stated “I’m not racist but I just don’t get turned on by Asians”, is racist. The evidence for this, I think, is seen in the fact that many times it is not just sex but even polite conversation “they” won’t have. If “they” weren’t racist then “they’d” be open for a chat even if the chat up routine is not needed!

I wonder if this closet racism is one of the reasons why there has not been any concerted attempt to invite LGBTIQ groups from our regional neighbours? I think it would be great to have Gay Chinese dragons along with, floats from Thailand, the Philippines, for example.

Perhaps if Indonesian LGBTIQ groups were invited and included by Australian Pride Organisations, that country might have a view of Australia beyond “turn back the boats”?

LGBTIQ Racism does not spring from a vacuum and changing attitudes is a 2 way street! I believe that one of the factors fueling racism in the LGBTIQ Community stems from Australia’s importation of overseas medical staff, some of whom bring with them unhelpful homophobia. My experience in 3 states informs me that many overseas trained medical practitioners retain their own countries homophobic attitudes.

I am concerned that the Australian Government’s “poaching program” of overseas trained medical staff does not include cultural training to prepare people for work in our diverse multi cultural society.

I believe a key result is that every time a LGBTIQ Person experiences homophobic service from overseas trained doctors, the racist attitudes of individuals are increased, thus undermining our community’s ability to engage with people with CALD Backgrounds. This is something that should be addressed not by the LGBTIQ Community but by the appropriate Medical Registration bodies and human resource departments.

Sadly, the Government in WA’s only interest in health seems to be in the PR spin gained from building hospitals, which have no staff to work in them, rather than in investing in people and building community. If the WA Minister for Health has a “don’t care” attitude to people and service provision, then isn’t it clearly a pipe dream to expect that “nice white heterosexuals in the health system” will help combat homophobia to prevent their overseas trained colleagues encouraging the spread of racism in the LGBTIQ Community?

As the recent bushfires experience in Western Australia clearly demonstrates, the Liberal Government doesn’t even seem to be able to provide fire fighters with trucks and water pumps that work or even manage to have a few people check crumbling electricity poles to stop massive fire storms, so it’s hard to see homophobia and racism getting any attention in this environment.

I do note that Xenophobic racism exists in all cultures and GOD i.e. Guns, Oil & Drugs, along with racism seems to be the underlying reason for many of the World’s current and previous wars. The ability to extend a hand of friendship to strangers is a sign of a culture’s maturity and is one of the most important ways we can build bridges and relationships with our regional LGBTIQ neighbours!

LGBTIQ Communities in First World Nation do have a moral obligation to reduce internal racism and build inter cultural links to extend universal human rights. This should be seen not as hard work but as an opportunity not just to increase attendance figures but also to rejuvenate our LGBTIQ Community so that future generations may still have a Community to belong to and a Pride Festival to attend.

The Perth Sisters would therefore like to see Pride WA extend their great local consultation process by a meaningful marketing program to attract more visitors to a night time parade and to use the already large audience to raise funding and provide education on tolerance as this is an opportunity that Pride has never fully utilised.

Some LGBTIQ People argue that we are just giving a free show. Well we are so we should use the audience as the other businesses do in Northbridge to raise money for social services in our community and for education, as it is a missed opportunity to be just giving a free show.

Committees in all LGBTIQ Groups should pay more than just lip service to reducing racism by making sure that CALD people are included in leadership positions.

Sydney Mardi Gras has had great success marketing to Asian Countries and it is one way that advances in human rights are able to trickle down and it helps to counter the continual criticism that GLBTIQ Community in Australia is based on a “white, hiv negative welcome only australia” policy.

The Perth Sisters were excited to see Perth included in a recent list of the 52 best places to visit in the World. We think ALL CALD LGBTIQ Visitors and Residents should return to their homes from Australia with happy memories of their holidays.

If Pride WA turns on an exciting night time adult parade with diverse Local, interstate and overseas entrants then Western Australia will indeed have one more reason to exorcise the ubiquitous “Dullsville” and “Boganville” labels, let alone the tag as most boring Gay Capital in Australia!

This is where we are heading with this normalising agenda that wants a pram and balloons parade solution that is imposing their ‘straight acting in the ‘burbs view of how we should live’, on everyone. All of “us” don’t want a pram and a house in the suburbs!

LBGTIQ communities have always been at the forefront of many culture changes, if those pushing this “one direction normalisation” get their way, then what does this say about where Perth will be in ten years time? It’s not hard to imagine where “the gay token” will end up on the game of snakes and ladders then!

I, for one, would prefer to be “over run” by hot happy Asian tourists who are only interested in having a good time with the locals, and who spend money doing so, rather than being over run by redneck whites, gay or straight, whose only interest in community is about finding a place to get pissed in and who then, when all the barricades are gone, go on drunken homo bashing rampages!

To see the Sisters Pride Submission click here.

With blessing from the Holy Bitch Mother Dingo and May the Holy Black Swan not shit on your Parade!!!

Sister Mary-Jane Singleton of the Divine Green Weed for The Perth Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence of the Abbey of the Black Swan

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About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years.

“Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe.” (Daniel Witthaus, “Beyond Priscilla”, Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)