February 2020 saw the Geelong Rainbow Festival take place once again, with huge turnouts at events and amazing surprises unveiled throughout the festival.
Now in its third year, the festival was started by volunteer-led non-profit organisation Geelong Rainbow Inc. which consists of Wayne Landkroon and Jo Bangles as co-presidents, Amielle Penny as vice-president and a growing community of over 170 members.
“The Geelong Rainbow Festival is an opportunity for our community to celebrate visibility, diversity and inclusion in their own town with the people, services and businesses who recognise and support them for the beautiful people they are.” Landkroon said.
Their aim being to showcase and highlight all the wonderful aspects of our community and to come together in a safe and inclusive environment, where individuals are not judged by who they are or who they love, but by the love in their hearts and the individuals that they are.
There is a staggering amount for the three committee members to accomplish in the months of preparation that goes into these festivities.
Starting at least 6 months before the festival, organisation includes liaising with City of Greater Geelong Events department, developing emergency plans, event permits, road closure permits, notification of disruptions to public transport, road and street access and noise levels, calls for expressions of interest for entertainers, sponsors, volunteers, stall holders, food vendors and infrastructure suppliers.
But it is all worth it in the end, with this year seeing more than 16 events held over 6 days and over 2000 people participating in the Pride March. “With many organisations such as First Nations, Energy Australia, Piano Bar, Deakin University, Barwon Health and VicBears among others, registering as a group to march” said Lankroon.
Several surprises were also unveiled, including an incredibly popular Speaker Corner event which highlighted the diversity of experiences in the LGBTI community, and a temporary Rainbow Crossing at the corner of Moorabool Street and Little Malop Street.
Commissioned as part of the “You’re Welcome Here” program between City of Greater Geelong and Geelong Rainbow Inc., the Rainbow Crossing provides a gateway to the Arts and Cultural precinct of Geelong.
Lankroon also confirmed that inclusivity is taken seriously at all their events. “All our events are open to all ages and identities, disability inclusion is provided though the provision of single level access to all events, providing Auslan interpreters, wheelchair charging stations and disabled toilets at Fair Day.”
“We welcomed and are supported by our local indigenous Co-op, the Wautherong people who provided a traditional Welcome to Country and smoking ceremony. Many of our sponsors are community service providers in the Health, Disability and Aged sectors and the Geelong Rainbow Inc. Committee and volunteers are all representative of the LGBTIQA+ and ally community.”
Geelong Rainbow Festival is supported by VIP Sponsors Energy Australia and Piano Bar Geelong as well as other sponsors, including Deakin University, Thorne Harbour Health, Wellways, Stoked Café, Barwon Health, City of Greater Geelong, Diversitat Aged Support, Beav’s Bar, Stockdale and Lego Realty, BCYF, Bethany Community Support and Liberty Disability Services.