AT a quarter of a century old, Brisbane Pride Festival celebrates its landmark anniversary alongside one of the Queensland LGBTI community’s greatest milestones: the decriminalisation of homosexuality.

Given the state’s conservative history, the law reform was done under a newly-elected Labor government and was only achieved because of the efforts of activists, campaigners and people representing the Queensland’s diverse LGBTI community.

[showads ad=MREC]With this in mind, it seems fitting that Brisbane Pride has chosen the theme of “commUNITY” to celebrate its anniversary and pay homage to the LGBTI rights movement.

“The theme for two reasons. First, it is hoped that it will empower Queensland’s LGBTIQ community to stand proudly together as we fight prejudice, discrimination and stigma,” Brisbane Pride president Peter Black said.

“It is only by supporting one another in unity that we will achieve true equality. Second, it is hoped that it will highlight the extraordinary and exciting diversity of the LGBTIQ community in Queensland.

“While in many ways the LGBTIQ community is constantly divided and segregated into labels — from the letters that make up the LGBTIQ acronym, to the various labels and cultures that we impose on ourselves and others — it is important that together we celebrate the achievements of our rich and vibrant community.”

This year’s festival will include community ambassadors in order to represent its diverse spectrum of people and groups. One of these ambassadors is Steven Oliver, a star of ABC’s Black Comedy, who hopes to raise awareness on issues faced by Indigenous LGBTI community members.

“What can I say about Pride? Well, as a person who belongs to more than one oppressed group I guess I could say a lot but then I’d probably just end up boring the bejeezus — what does that even mean — out of you,” Oliver said.

“What I will talk about though is community. A community that was born because others deemed us outsiders. While it can’t be disputed that there are those who continue to do so it is evident in our everyday lives that we are moving towards equality.

“For example, as a youth it was hard for me to imagine an Aboriginal person on TV let alone a gay one yet here I am writing this message.”

For Oliver, divisions in the LGBTI community that come down to socio-economic lines are emerging as an issue.

“As we move towards this equality though, I ask that you always be mindful that as we become equal in certain areas there is also evidence that we are becoming divided by that of class,” he said

“We’re living in a world where the rich are becoming richer and the poor becoming poorer. And it would be a sad day for us all if inevitably it were money that divides us as a community.

“We must always ensure that there are none left behind because that’s what we do as a community and I can’t imagine anything to be more proud about.”

Given recent news out of Canberra regarding marriage equality, Black said a sense of community was now crucial.

“Although this theme was selected prior to the decision of the Coalition party room to deny a free vote on marriage equality, it feels especially timely now,” he said.

“It is now even more important than ever that we unite and work together as a community to achieve not just marriage equality but full equality in both the eyes of the law and the wider society.”

To help spread this message, Brisbane Pride have also created the hashtag #commUNITY, “to help everyone discover their community”.

Brisbane Pride Festival will run from August 28 to September 27 and feature a variety of events along with its signature rally/march and Fair Day on September 19 in New Farm Park. For details, visit brisbanepride.org.au

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GO WEST FOR BROKEN HEEL

ALSO happening in September is the inaugural Broken Heel Festival, held at Broken Hill, NSW.

The festival coincides with the 21st birthday of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert – a classic Australian movie in which the country NSW town had a starring role.

Featuring pub crawls, ping pong, a drag march and Q&A with Priscilla director Stephen Elliot, Broken Hill will turn a bright shade of rainbows and glitter for one weekend.

Broken Heel Festival runs September 11 -13. for Details, visit bhfestival.com

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**This article was first published in the September edition of the Star Observer, which is available to read in digital flip-book format. To obtain a physical copy, click here to find out where you can grab one in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Canberra and select regional/coastal areas.

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