The City of Port Phillip has raised Rainbow Flags on its three Town Halls in St. Kilda, Port Melbourne and South Melbourne ahead of this Sunday’s 22nd Anniversary Pride March down Fitzroy Street.
A major supporter of Pride March since its beginning in 1996, City of Port Phillip Deputy Mayor, Cr Katherine Copsey said “Pride March remains just as relevant more than two decades on as it celebrates Victoria’s queer communities in a world where the struggle for rights, dignity and visibility continues.”
“This flag raising is important to us as Port Phillip Council has a proud – and continuing – history of supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex community members and being at the forefront of movements urging social change.”
“This continuing support includes recently submitting our bid proposal to the Victorian Government for the first Pride Centre in Australia. We are “loud and proud” about our impressive bid as we believe Port Phillip’s history of inclusion and equality makes us a great location for this important initiative.”
“Our Council’s contingent will be marching, and in some cases dancing, along Fitzroy Street with more than 100 other groups and hundreds of individuals, cheered on by about 40,000 spectators. So let’s proudly raise the Rainbow Flag in recognition of Midsumma’s powerful message of acceptance and equality and as a symbol of pride in our diverse and inclusive community.”
In 2017 for the first time, the Midsumma Pride March will be led by a smoking ceremony conducted by Indigenous Elders along with a contingent of queer Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. In another first, Pride March will also see a coalition of hundreds of young people near the front of the march in a powerful statement about fostering safe spaces for young people.
Acknowledging feedback from previous years about the design of the marching order, the 2017 march will been broken into ‘community waves’ with each wave focusing on a different community or area. Non-LGBTQIA+ identifying businesses will not march ahead of queer advocacy and gender-and-sexuality-diverse-representative groups.
At the conclusion of the March, the General Public are invited to follow the final marchers into Catani Gardens for Post Pride celebrations, which will see the introduction of a moment silence and vigil performance – a new Pride March tradition that pays homage to all queer peoples who have suffered violence because of their gender or sexuality. For 2017, this will be performed by Deborah Cheetham AO, celebrated Yorta Yorta soprano, actor, composer and playwright.
The Post Pride celebrations will be hosted by Dale Woolbridge-Brown, renowned Circus Oz performer and proud queer Kamilaroi man, and will feature one of Melbourne’s favourite DJs, Grant Cook.
The 2017 Midsumma Pride March takes place on Sunday 29 January. For more information, visit: www.midsumma.org.au for details.
Image: John Caldwell, Uncle Jack Charles and Cr Katherine Copsey (supplied)