Craig Gee and Shane Brennen will join the chief of the parade Margaret Cho in leading 10,000 marchers on Saturday, a strong statement by organisers that there is still much to march for.

The couple made headlines this year when SSO revealed they had been brutally beaten while walking hand-in-hand along Crown St.

They will walk the parade route hand-in-hand, defiant of the bashers who attacked them and other gay and lesbian victims in recent months.

“While it will be difficult for us to return to Oxford St, leading the parade is our way of thanking our community for its amazing support,” Gee said.

“It has been the hardest three months of our lives with only one more operation and hospital stay to go.”

Surry Hills Police have been following up with the couple since their attack.

“There was certainly a problem in the way that gay violence was being handled in the area,” Gee said.

“While I think it will take some time to break the existing culture at Surry Hills, at least steps are being taken to create a more compassionate and sympathetic culture.”

But despite efforts by NSW Police and ACON’s Anti-Violence Project to encourage community members to report violence and abuse, Gee would have trouble doing so again.

“Based on our experience, and all that has occurred since, it would be difficult for me to report any type of violence,” he said.

“While I now realise how important it is to report abuse and stand up against the perpetrators you also want to be able to live your life as normally as possible, especially when you’re recovering from significant injuries.”

Gee and Brennen have put that recovery on hold for one night because 30-years after the first protest march, highlighting homophobic violence was an important part of the gay political agenda.

But there will be no shortage of other awareness-raising floats in this year’s parade, including the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby’s call for legislatively equality.

The Australian Defence Force will not have to turn servicemen and women away for its first endorsed contingent after parade organisers were able to offer extra spaces to meet the unexpected demand.

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