IT’S been a long time between pride festivals for the Gold Coast, but Queensland’s second-largest city is preparing itself for a celebration of the LGBTI community with Glitter Festival making waves soon.

Presented by The Arts Centre Gold Coast, Glitter boasts an impressive line up of entertainment and events that aims to not only stamp the Gold Coast on the map of Australian LGBTI pride festivals, but also mark a “coming of age” for the region.

[showads ad=MREC]It was also created in response to a growing need for greater acceptance and inclusiveness in Australia’s biggest non-capital city.

Speaking to the Star Observer, Glitter Festival artistic director Brad Rush said he hoped the festival could a used as an important tool to bring the city together.

“It’s a celebration of the LGBTI community that includes all supporting demographics, particularly including mainstream supporters,” Rush said.

“Essentially this is an arts-driven style of festival that strives to bring community together through the shared interests of arts and culture.

“The program is diverse and will attract enormous variety of participants.”

For a city that has a reputation of being somewhat conservative, despite the party reputation of its Surfers Paradise district, Rush said having complete local government support was an indication the Gold Coast was “coming of age as a culturally and socially aware city”.

“The timing is perfect as lead up to Commonwealth Games where the city is on show,” he said.

“Some stereotyped messages surrounding the Gold Coast get challenged via initiatives such as Glitter.

“Over time [it] will have great impact on the cultural tourism market.”

Despite primarily being an arts festival, Rush hopes Glitter will also focus on issues surrounding LGBTI rights.

“The program is distinctly Gold Coast with the types of programs that currently are safe choices for both LGBTI community plus supporters,” he said.

“It doesn’t need to protest in the ways that Mardi Gras needed to do in the original development of that festival.

“There are however still really important issues including same sex marriage which will need to be uncovered in this platform.”

Rush also said the name of the festival paid homage to the city’s heydays.

“The branding references ‘the Glitter strip’ in Surfers Paradise. Interestingly in that time – the 1960s and 70s – the community appeared more liberal,” he said.

“Gold Coast was a hot spot for this freedom of self expression. The [festival signage font] interestingly is the same as the iconic ‘Pink Poodle’, a Gold Coast icon of the era.

“Maybe Glitter gives an excuse to return a little to that time.”

It wouldn’t be a festival on the Gold Coast without the calibre and style of entertainment that the city is renowned for, and Glitter certainly lives up to that.

Bringing his much-loved show Liza (on an E), cabaret star Trevor Ashley will lead a line-up that includes comedian Joel Creasey, community icon Carlotta, Dash Kruck, Michael Griffiths and 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche, which recently had a critically-acclaimed season in Brisbane.

There is also a mini-film festival line-up, as well as a unique program called There’s Something That I Need to Tell You, which provides an opportunity to explore shared, personal stories in a safe environment.

“There are both ticketed and free events so it is highly accessible,” Rush said.

“It’s time to spray this town in glitter, join the party, unite and be proud to be part of an open and progressive community.”

Glitter Festival runs from September 28 to October 5. For details and bookings, visit the website.

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