Sydney and Melbourne will once again have a very visible Rainbow presence at the Invasion Day rallies this year on January 26. The queer contingent will join the march with other activists in solidarity with Aboriginal people on a day that is celebrated in the country as ‘Australia Day’.
For Melbourne-based Frank Gafa, a queer, Aboriginal man, the rainbow flag at the Invasion Day rallies hold real significance.
“As a queer, Aboriginal man it is extremely important for me to see the queer community actively supporting and taking action for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. I believe that it is integral to both the queer and the Aboriginal and Torres Strat Islander communities that we support each other as it is the same colonial institutions that have continued to act against us,” Gafa told Star Observer.
Significance of Rainbow Flag At Invasion Day Rally
Gafa sees the rallies as an opportunity to acknowledge another issue that cannot not get enough attention – the racism within the queer community. “It is important for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are part of the queer community to see the active support of queer people so that we know it is safe to have conversations about racism and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander campaigns in queer spaces,” says Gafa.
Over the past three years, organisers have seen the queer contingent at Invasion Day rallies in Melbourne grow from a couple of dozen to a few hundred last year, and is hoping for a strong presence this year as well.
“We thank the Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance (WAR) for granting us permission to fly our colours. When we queer a space, fuck, love, party and go about our everyday lives, we do so on stolen land. We must take responsibility for this. Many queer people know what it’s like to be assaulted, harassed, policed, discriminated against and vilified in the media. These are daily experiences for Aboriginal people in the colony. It’s only right that we stand with them in their fight against oppression,” a spokesperson for No Pride in Invasion said.
In light of the Coronavirus restrictions this year, the organisers are working to ensure that the rallies are COVID-safe. That means wearing a mask at all times, keeping distance, using hand sanitisers, following the Marshall’s instructions and of course, staying at home if you have any symptoms.
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‘Racism Is A Queer Issue’
In Sydney, Pride In Protest has taken the lead in getting LGBTQI people to come together to show their solidarity with the First Nations mob.
“More and more people are coming to recognise that homophobia, transphobia, and racism are interconnected problems and you cannot seriously fight one without fighting other forms of oppression,” adds Van Zijl.
‘Change The Date’
Australia Day is celebrated nationally on January 26. The day is a problematic one for many as it commemorates the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the first British fleet at Port Jackson in New South Wales and the raising of the British flag at Sydney Cove.
“For me the Invasion Day rallies are an integral part of actively questioning the history of colonisation, and bringing to light the intergenerational effects of genocide over the course of the country’s colonial past. The continued celebration of Invasion Day by the Australian Government, without the important aspects of truth telling and acknowledgment of past genocidal practices should be seen as a national shame,” explains Gafa.
Gafa looks at the Invasion Day rallies as an important occasion to generate conversations around the insensitivity of the celebrations on January 26 and and focus attention on “the continued campaigning for justice around Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in custody, over incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait people most notably our youth, and the continued removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from community.”
To attend an Invasion Day rally in your city, check out the programmes across Australia:
- Sydney – Queer contingent led by Pride In Protest at 8.45 am at The Domain.
- Melbourne – Queer Contingent led by No Pride In Invasion gathers at 10.30 am near Princess Theatre, before the march begins from Parliament House steps in Spring Street.
- Canberra – The march from the Aboriginal Tent Embassy to Parliament House starts at 10 am.
- Brisbane – The rally starts at 10 am at Queens Garden, 144 George Street.
- Darwin – The Invasion/ Survival Day will start at Civic Park at 11 am.
- Perth – The Change the Date Invasion Day rally will gather at Forrest Place at 1 pm.
- Adelaide – The Survival Day March starts from Victoria Square at 11.30 am.
- Hobart – There are two Invasion Day rallies organised by the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre that will gather Parliament House at 11.45 am and at Devonport Bluff at 11.45 am.