DESPITE being an avid music festival goer, Anna Whitelaw always wanted to attend one tailored for the LGBTI community.

“I think there is something about dancing under the sun or stars, and experiencing music and art together that is almost impossible to replicate in a nightclub,” she told the Star Observer.

“My business partner Mason and I daydreamed about running a music festival for years… but it was always far too expensive to contemplate, until we noticed all of these micro-festivals popping up.

“So we thought, why not throw one for the queer community?”

In March Australia’s first LGBTI camping music festival, Gaytimes, will be held over three days near Marysville in regional Victoria.

Over two nights, the festival will offer a weekend of music, art, sexuality, and self-expression for the LGBTI community.

“I think the LGBT community has a very unique need to have safe spaces where they can congregate, be themselves and find each other, because we don’t always feel safe and comfortable in everyday life,” Whitelaw said.

“Even at mainstream music festivals today, two girls kissing or two guys kissing might attract stares.

“That’s why gay and lesbian bars and clubs, queer parties, queer community groups and LGBTIQ festivals are so important, and why we as a community need to continue to support them.”

Gaytimes will feature film screenings, yoga, workshops, speed dating, granny bingo, and the Gaytimes Drag Race.

It will also have a diverse music line up from disco and soul to house and hip-hop, with emerging artists as well as established.

Whitelaw said while Australia hosts many other events for the LGBTI community, this music festival is something that’s been missing.

“I love going to big pride events like (Midsumma) Carnival and Mardi Gras, but some of the best memories I have are going to festivals like Meredith or Coachella,” she said.

“When I’ve been at music festivals, I certainly at times wished I could have convinced all my friends to come along, or wished there were more gay people to share it with.

“From the beginning we knew we wanted Gaytimes to be a weekend away in a beautiful setting so we were lucky to secure Lake Mountain Alpine Resort… we also knew we wanted it to be about more than just the stereotypical gay scene, and more than just music.”

Whitelaw hopes this year’s inaugural festival goers will take a lot away from the weekend.

“Like all great music festivals I hope everyone discovers a great band or a great DJ they’ve never ever heard of before,” she said.

“And I hope those heading along make the pilgrimage again next year, and take away lots of war stories to make their friends who missed out jealous.”

Gaytimes will take place March 12-14 (Labor Day long weekend) in Lake Mountain Alpine Resort. For details and tickets, click here.

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