After the walk comes the talk
Well, we did it, after many weeks of discussion and lots of nerves on my behalf, last Friday night I did the much-talked-about walk with the Lord Mayor Clover Moore, Police Minister David Campbell and Labor candidate for the Federal seat of Wentworth George Newhouse. Actually, I’m not sure why George turned up, but he came along anyway.
As you can imagine there were quite a few hurdles that we had to leap over just to get to this point. One major hurdle was time. Both Clover and David were hoping to trot down the strip at 10pm after functions they were attending. As we all know, to take a walk up Oxford St at this time wouldn’t solve anything.
After many emails and phone calls between me and Clover’s very helpful assistant Roy we compromised to midnight. Still not late enough in my books – I was hoping for 2am when the real fireworks are flaring – but midnight was workable.
The other hurdle was the photographers, which we limited to three – one from each of the SSO, The Sun-Herald and Clover’s office. It was two more than I would have liked, but the mainstream media does have a role to play in highlighting this problem as well.
The timing wasn’t so great. Being the weekend after the long weekend, the strip wasn’t as crammed as usual – there were only a few queues at hot spots at the bottom of Oxford St and the queues outside those venues everyone has a problem with seemed to have disappeared.
The only real yelling was at our group – with queens telling me they loved me (and thanks for that) or telling us they voted for Clover. All very camp moments I have to say.
During the walk I touched upon the recent debate about smaller wine bars vs big clubs.
A reduction in hours or closure of any of the clubs would have a huge impact on the community – not to mention my employment prospects.
Clover assured me she supported both, but wants to give Sydneysiders a choice.
But was it just a well-rehearsed political line or can we trust Clover’s word? We will have to wait and see.
Now the walk is over I am confident the members of the walking party had their eyes opened to at least some of the basic issues we are faced with on Oxford St and the increased risk of homophobic violence. They were at least interested in what I had to say and asked plenty of questions about regular trouble spots. They even asked for my advice on how to tackle the situation.
As I said to the Lord Mayor and the Police Minister, I’m just a silly old drag queen who is in contact with friends, audience members, club locals and the wider community every day – and I hear the stories of violence and abuse.
What happens now is up to them – with a little more pressure from us.