I had the pleasure of visiting Adelaide’s Feast festival over the weekend and really had a great time.
It’s a beautiful, vibrant city and for the second year in a row Feast has established a full-time festival hub in one of the city’s main squares — a village of dance tents, food stalls, a main bar and a restaurant, surrounded by art installations and light effects, giving the whole thing a carnival feel.
Not having its own pink precinct and with only one gay nightclub in town, the hub really puts Feast on the city map for locals and visitors alike, while providing a space where LGBTIs can feel a sense of safety and belonging.
And, boy, did they need it on Saturday night — for who should turn up to picket Adelaide’s Pride march but the notorious Rundle Mall preachers, Australia’s equivalent to the Westboro Baptist Church, and I have no doubts they would have followed marchers into the opening night party had security not been there to keep them out.
It’s no reflection on Adelaidians who take having their annual Pride march and Christmas parade on the same day in their stride.
Indeed, the Rundle Mall preachers have become such a nuisance to shoppers, straight and gay alike, that the South Australian Government, with the support of the city council and local retailers, recently passed laws aimed at curtailing the group’s licence to offend.
Holding three-metre tall offensive signs with slogans like “Do you love your sin enough to burn in hell forever?” these dozen or so people had the gall to use megaphones to harangue a crowd of 3000 LGBTIs gathered for the Pride march with extreme homophobic rhetoric from just a few feet away, despite the many young families and children present.
And when the parade moved off, they tried to push their way to the front with those signs and megaphones to walk in front of marchers.
Confronted with that sort of behaviour, there is a temptation to become angry and, for some, even violent.
But the Rundle Mall mob and their ilk elsewhere in Australia are the best advertisement for the opposing camp we could ever hope for.
When the quality of your spokespeople drops that low, you have well and truly lost the argument.