Despite belting summer heat and a few technical difficulties, the Reclaim the Right vigil was a definite success, drawing a thousand people and a range of media coverage despite Australia Day festivities dominating the news.

All this despite mixed messages about whether it was still going ahead, with some posters on online forums discouraging people from attending based on ludicrous fears the event would degenerate into some sort of gay Cronulla riots following irresponsible reporting by the SMH.

Thanks must go to Ben Veenkamp for getting the ball rolling, and to Brendan Lloyd and team for picking the ball up after it was dropped and running with it to get the event over the line.

Thanks also to New Mardi Gras who donated the sea of pink flags without even being asked, City of Sydney for the whistles, to musical acts Courtney Act, Shauna Jensen and the Homotones for keeping things bearable despite the heat, and to Steph and Maxi for MCing.

Both Clover Moore and City of Sydney Councillor Shayne Mallard gave rousing speeches, identifying how homophobic State and Federal laws embolden gay bashers when they see their prejudices enshrined. Both also gave practical suggestions as to what can be done by local government to help shake the sinister vibe from the strip while we wait for the NSW Government and Police to take action. Let’s hope they can work together – neither one’s plans should be mutually exclusive.

It’s a pity Mallard is a Liberal when his views on gay marriage would be more at home with the Greens – who were notable absentees though I’m sure there were more than a few Greens members in the crowd.

Finally, this year’s Oscar for the most rambling, incoherent and over-length speech at a community vigil has to go to self-proclaimed “Queer, Orphan, Wiccan Artist” Shelley Dahl from CAAH. It’s ironic that after so much effort was put into making sure the day wasn’t about race, the people who made so much fuss over the posters then went and brought the race issue back into it again. Maybe it was the heat, but Shelley also seemed to have difficulty distinguishing between Tony Abbott and Federal Liberal leader Brendan Nelson and which had a relative die of AIDS.

Finally, taking the march back up Oxford Street without police permission was a little bit naughty, but exactly what needed to happen. We now know what we’re capable of and, should the need arise, we’ll be more than able to do it all over again.

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