Pride is all about celebrating the amazing diversity in gender and sexual preference within our community. It’s all about inclusion and acceptance both within and outside our community. It’s about being proud, celebrating who you are, and having the freedom to be your authentic self without fear of persecution. It’s about being happy to be queer regardless of other’s opinions or beliefs. The freedom to be me!

This year is special in the terms of our shared history and battle for LGBTIQ+ rights, with 2019 marking the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in the US. The 1960’s were a different time with much discrimination and homophobia. During these times, state gay sodomy laws meant men were at risk of being arrested for simply being gay and police often raided gay establishments. In June 28th, 1969, police raided a gay bar called the Stonewall Inn in New York’s Greenwich village. But, for the first time, gay, lesbian and trans folk stood up against persecution and fought back. This key event initiated the development of the gay rights movement in the US which over time shifted laws and created greater acceptance of gay, lesbian and trans communities in the mainstream.

In Australia, times have changed too, with decriminalisation of homosexual acts enacted at the Federal level in 1973, with the States slowly following between 1975 to 1997. Most recently, marriage equality has become a reality with the Bill passed in December 2017. Despite major advances and significant shifts in attitudes towards LGBTIQ+ issues among the wider public we still have a long way to go. Pride festivals offer us the opportunity to come together and support each other as a community, celebrate gender and sexuality diversity and inclusion, be proud to be queer, regardless of other’s attitudes and further shift mainstream beliefs and acceptance of LGBTIQ people. Today, it’s also about celebrating our oneness and commonalities with all people regardless of gender or sexuality.