Brisbane Pride to face its critics

Brisbane Pride to face its critics

Brisbane Pride Festival will be holding an open forum on this years annual event to hear community views and opinions.

To be held at the Sportsman Hotel from 7pm on March 21, Brisbane Pride spokesman Deeje Hancock said the forum would give people a chance to meet the team fighting to ensure the secure and long-term survival of the festival, as well as ask questions.

“A significant portion of the community have expressed that they’re upset at the cancellation of this year’s fair day,” Hancock said.

“The caretaker committee members understand this, but we believe we have acted in the best interests of Brisbane Pride Festival and the GLBTI community.

“We would also like the opportunity to dispel some of the unfounded rumours that are circulating in the community.”

A lack of participation in the Pride Festival by the community in recent years has seen the responsibility of the entire festival shouldered by a very small number of volunteers.

Brisbane Pride Festival has a new committee which is working to rectify this issue and put on a vibrant and successful 2011 Brisbane Pride Festival that will include the 50th anniversary of the Queens Ball – the longest continuously running gay and lesbian event in the world.

Hancock said the committee was committed to working towards the return of the Pride Fair Day for the 2012 festival.

“It is our firm belief that Brisbane Pride Festival is an important event, with far reaching impacts on the greater GLBT community, not just in Brisbane, but all over Queensland. This event was created by the community, for the community,” he said.

“We are aware that people have many questions and to this end we are presenting as many committee members as are available to answer questions at this open public forum.”

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3 responses to “Brisbane Pride to face its critics”

  1. I have personally put my hand up to be on the committee but each time my offer of support is ignored. This is very typical of the clicky Brisboring scene. Where promoters think their parties are as good as Sydney or Melbourne but in comparison are nothing more than a Bachelor and Spinsters ball, less the ute’s, RM Williams hats, boats and a sawdust wooden woodshed dance floors.

    It is really a sad state of affairs, when only two people have actively carried on the management of the event for the last few years. Taking into account the great work both of these two people have given to the community of Brisbane, it does show a high level of apathy by others, who don’t want to get involved. Often is the case that the real issues of inclusion, political activism, homophobia, HIV invisibility and stigma and more equal rights under the QLD law, is relegated to only one media outlet. At times it seems Brisbane queers favour news about fashion, Gaga or the next party they can attend wearing their fashionable undies to take illegal drugs.

    Given the financial mess the organisation currently is in, I would have to question why these two people still hold their positions. If this was Mardi Gras, ALSO Foundation or London Pride all the figure heads would have been replaced. But this after all Queensland and by the admission of the speaker at the Forum talking about the involvement of the current ‘caretaker’ committee line up (words to the effect of) ‘We will be honest with you, we don’t know what the F&*k we are doing. We have never run a festival before. But each of us are successful business people in the gay community” .

    Joyce Morgan writes a warning in the SMH about filling arts and festival boards with business people is always set to be a dismal failure.

    This I would contend is very much the same situation here in our little LGBTQ festival. Allowing others to take the financial risk in staging events such as rebranding of Fair Day into ‘Carnivale’ with its connotations for the traveling freak show, is not only unfair on that one investor but also on the whole LGBTQI community.

    This could set up an unhealthy precedent, where it is expected that our funding should only come from within our community. Such motivating factors is inwardly homophobic in my opinion, considering some of us that are working do pay taxes. Also such events do bring in such an economic impact to the whole Brisbane community.

    If we take the definition of Arts academic Robyn Archer definition of the best way to evaluating any festival organisation ( Archer talks about it being through their accountability to their largest funders. In the Australian context it is the Government bodies Festivals Australian and Events Queensland.

    The Brisbane Pride Festival is only answerable directly the 100 or so paid members, the Media outlet Qnews, plus the venue owners all of whom are directly sitting on the ‘caretaker’ board. I don’t think this should be taken with malice that these people don’t have any right to be on the board. However I do think there should be more transparency in their ‘caretaker’ roles. Especially If these same people are organizing events to be held inside their venues or at other venues such as The Queensball, at Cloudland and then the Fluffy after party at Family nightclub. Or the men only White Wolf Party promoted by the owner of Qnews. Furthermore exclusive offers for entry into the very popular late night sex on premises Klub Kruise during their traditional extended trading hours over the Queens Birthday weekend which is also owned in partnership by the owner of Qnews.

    As Robyn Archer mentions about this notion of accountability, governments have been more focused on ‘the need to justify their expenditure’ ignoring the ‘essence of what the arts are about’.

    In this context it seems to be that there is no justification of the culture essence of what an arts festival is all about, and little, if any attention is given to the value of our collective cultural identity within the events being staged.

    Not everyone is into drag culture awards nights, drinking on a bus or taking illegal drugs, dancing to handbag in an all male dance party.

    I would add to the vile online debates featured on where the only recourse, the establishment could come up against me was, to out me as a HIV positive man and to declare that I infect all my partners simply because I have been rocking the metaphoric boat and daring to ask these important questions about ownership, inclusion, funding, conflicts of interest and the financial state of affairs of Brisbane Pride Festival.

    Shocked I was not to be labeled in such a vein, after all this is QLD with 38% increase from 2010 in HIV infection figures. Such stigmatizing discourses and blaming of PLHIV is often the norm in this Brisbane community from my personal experience. Even though what respondents actually say on surveys about how they would treat PLHIV is very different to what happens when they actually are confronted with HIV disclosure. Gossiping, finger pointing and even telling PLHIV they should not be even having a healthy sex life or out in public is often the case in backward Gay Queensland. I thought we went though these issues in the 1990s.

    I would argue that these issues about stigma, rights based narratives that bring us closer together with the common narrative of our struggle for acceptance and inclusion should be the subject matter of a good festival line up.

    One of the key reasons why BPF has done so poorly over the previous years I believe because of the type of events being staged, they have not been culturally specific to the needs of the whole LGBTQ audience.

    One event stands out being a booze bus trip between the three Gay venues in Brisbane. Evidently if you know Brisbane that’s a short trip between Spring Hill and Fortitude Valley. However this event has seen declining in numbers over the past three years. I would have to ask how such an event can challenge the social norms of the community to who it is targeted. Given we can do this on any other night of the week and hear the same DJs and see the same drag acts.

    How does other members of the LGBTQ community, who might attend such events benefit from any alternative cultural exchange or be presented with any artistic values that challenge them to think about their place, space and identity within the community?

    The publicans mainly Westfarmers holdings in their successful Wickham Hotel, and the dear Nelly owner of the only fully gay owned Sportsman Hotel, would be set to gain from increased alcohol sales.

    But culturally what does this offer those members of the community that don’t see any value in such events, or even any cultural capital?

    What is even more alarming is how so many past and present employees and personal friends of what seems the only gay media outlet in Queensland can hold positions on the board. Well that was until I publically questioned their conflict of interest and the unconstitutional appointments.

    Nepotism is alive and well it might seem, but I might add this could just be evidence of benevolence and even philanthropic motives and not necessarily financial motivation. Either way you might read the current state of affairs it’s very alarming to this author that there is such an inward looking culture within Queensland LGBTQ community. It is often the case that if QNEWS or QAHC don’t stage these kinds of events, other business people in Brisbane are just not willing to take these financial risks.

    When I nervously approached the microphone at the forum, one of my questions I tried to get out, was to do with external funding sources. Often is the case in regional / metro arts festivals, both state and federal bodies can be approached for additional financial support. Not only was I surprised to learn that BPF has never approached these organisations successfully, but I had to further question why ex Lord Mayor of Brisbane Cambell Newman during his term in local government was unable to donate any council services ‘in kind’ to the fourth largest LGBTQ festival in Australia. Either there is homophobia rife within the Brisbane City Council and the single $1000 donation provided was to get all the fag’s out of the council bureaucratic office, for fear of getting ‘the AIDS’.

    In comparison to the Newman offer of $1000 Townsville council spent more money and donated more in kind to the Townsville Gay Day. Even in bogan capital of Australia Mackay a mecca of loud homophobic men calling out ‘FAGGOT’ from the safety of their utes, adored with phallic bullbars and complete with roo shooting headlights on their roof, like a shinny gay mans bling. Even there in Mackay, that regional council has donated just under $10,000 to the local Rainbow youth group. Furthermore each years about $30,000 to stage the Mackay Festival of Arts White Party, an event heavily supported by both GLBTQ and heterosexuals at the mutli million-dollar Mackay Convention Centre.

    It is either Brisbane heterosexual bureaucratese’s are so out of touch with the economic impact or the LGBTQ community or it is simply that we are a fractured Queensland community are not being proactive enough in their efforts to fund such events beyond the LBGTQ pockets.

    Alternatively it could just be simply a lack of time and manpower to bring about such change. One thing is for certain, and that is if alternative people don’t step up and be counted by simply joining up as a paid member, or volunteering as a worker at any of the multiple events through the online form then this organization is set to fail terribly because of the past Brisbane LGBTQ apathy. With the only winners at this traveling Carnivale sideshow, being those homophobic knockers who devalue our community, because we have failed to succeed.

  2. The real problem with Gay committee’s in Queensland is that they are just too clicky.

    From the very start of QAGLR in Cairns…. It was run by a very small select group of three persons. When I arrived from Isisford, Centeral Western QLD Branch of QAGLR to visit, there many complaints made to me from frustrated wannabe members, “they wanted to get involved but were not able to do so”, they said.

    The same problem was encountered with Qld. Pride Festival. I might as well have been invisible. No one asked who I was or wanted to know.

    The same problem was with QAGLR Brisbane branch. After I paid my membership fee I was ignored. No one welcomed me to their organization or shook my hand.

    Another contentious issue is with the Greg Weir Papers. They mainly deal with Greg Weir and missing or tiny brief references to other great achievements.

    It reminded me of a vandalized Catholic library.

    What is needed to be asked of Anna Bligh and company is….What has happened to the great wealth that has been generated by the Queensland Pride Festival. Gay Queensland people don’t seem to be of benefit when it comes to our taxes.

    That’s why I don’t like committees. Give me an Anarchist anytime.