Rainbow Community Angels To Protect LGBT Community At Drag Storytime Events In Melbourne
Would “angel wings” be able to shield the LGBTQI community from the recent rise in far-right protests against drag performances and queer events in Melbourne?
A group of LGBTQI community advocates, drag performers, trans and gender diverse people and rainbow families are pinning their hopes on a new community-led safety initiative launched last week in Melbourne. Aptly named, Rainbow Community Angels, the group has offered its presence to local Councils, libraries and cafes that plan to organise LGBTQI events.
The group said it will work with staff “to increase event safety through our highly visible, peaceful, supportive community presence.” A Gofundme campaign to raise funds for the initiative, raised over $11,000 in 24 hours.
According to the crowdfunding page, community members and allies will be trained to “take part in peaceful actions to support community safety at inclusive events like Drag Storytime” whilst wearing magnificent angel wings.
We Need To Step Up
“Communities that celebrate diversity and inclusion are communities that we all want to live in. And when people aren’t safe to attend their local library or go to a drag event at a cafe, it sometimes means that as community members we need to step up and take action,” Flis Marlowe, one of the co-founders of Rainbow Community Angels, told Star Observer.
Over the past year, multiple drag storytime events and drag performances have been the target of threats and vile protests by a broad coalition led by neo-Nazis, right-wing religious and conservative figures, anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists.
“Anyone who’s frustrated with the inability to take action or feel like they’re seeing this rise of hate and discrimination and vilification and thinks this is a time to take action, then they can contact us or become involved,” said Marlowe.
The idea of “angels wings” originated in 1998 when classmates of Matthew Shepard, a victim of an anti-gay lynching in the US, wore “angel wings” to shield his family members from homophobic Westboro Baptist Church protestors at the murder trial.
In 2017, a group of ‘angels’, responding to threats of protests from homophobes, turned up to welcome LGBTQI youth to a Minus 18 Queer Formal in St Kilda.
Some community members, who had participated in the 2017 initiative, decided to revive the “angels” to counter the wave of hate sweeping across Melbourne and Australia.
Call The Angels
Rainbow Community Angels are planning to hold their first community meeting this Thursday, with a training program for the first batch of volunteers scheduled for Saturday.
“We don’t want any trouble. We don’t want there to be any hate. We don’t want events to be shut down,” explained Marlowe.
“We want to offer this initiative to the community. They can call the angels and ask for us to attend. What we hope in the long term is that it grows into a community grassroots organisation where people can attend a range of events across Victoria and provide safe passage and literally turn our backs on hate and allow people to attend safely,” added Marlowe.
Email Rainbow Community Angels at [email protected] to get involved.