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Samba Drums Lead the March - It Must Be Pride Day


Good hair.

Young man, the 'Scoutcraft' Badge goes above the right breast pocket,
not on the flap. See me afterwards.

View from the bus station bridge marked on the overview map, below, looking north-east towards to city, along the Queen Victoria Bridge.

Click here for 189 more photos of Pride Day, including boys in short shorts, loving couples, homophobic Christians, flags and signs, dodgem cars, tribal dancers, a samba band and at least a thousand people - all taken by community photographer Tony Robertson.
Pictures are NOT in the public domain, please contact Tony via his site or on mobile
0417 792 509 (+614 1779 2509 from outside Australia)

Brisbane's Pride Rally, March and Fair Day was held on Saturday the 18th of June. Pride Day is different to many political events - for a start, its only about 25% political anyway. Unlike many other political events, Pride is about a group of people who have won great social gains for themselves.

Instead of focussing on the problems of someone far away, LGBTI/Queer activism is about making improvements in one's own local community - stopping gaybashing at a local nightspot, for example.

Because the LGBTI community has won battles over the years, Pride Days are about victories. One of the fruits of victory is that not everyone there is obsessed with politics - no doubt a fair few people out yesterday were just there to socialise.

Some people think this is a bad thing. I say this is just the price of victory. Win some victories, remove some threats, and some people are going to stand down and have fun. It sure isn't going to do any good complaining about 'apathy', or about how people 'don't understand what things used to be like'. That is just what people do.

The fact that at least a thousand people marched yesterday, even though some are not politically committed at all, is a good sign. It means that activism over the years has won the right for those thousand-or-more people to march without police harrasment or physical threats. If you had tried marching 1 000 non-heterosexual people down Adelaide Street, Brisbane in 1966 you would have had a fight with the cops on your hands, for sure.

Of course, I want more. I'd like to see every LGBTI/queer person develop a class analysis and join me in throwing out the bosses. But it's my job to convince people to join me. It's not their job to just do what I want. And people have the right to do what they want with their victories.

Well, onto the march.

I arrived at the Coffee Club opposite King George Square, in Brisbane City, at 9.31 am. While waiting to meet friends, I soaked up atmosphere. 2 male -> female transgendered women, one in a red sleeveless machine-knitted top, and one in a floppy rainbow hat, parachute silk tracksuit top and cargo pants chatted to each other for ten minutes, and then left to cross to the rally site.

A group of people, including a woman in a brown hoodie and grey skirt, a young thin man and a woman with a moustache painted onto her top lip were talking. They were all wearing pro-queer, anti-war T-shirts, proclaiming themselves to be part of queerbloc, a queer unionists group.

Behind me, a moderately homosexual young man discussed his social life with some female friends.

9.48...No friends yet. Oh well, over to King George Square, they'll arrive before long. As I wandered around taking notes, I saw the Brisbane Samba School with 8 drums (including the deepest harness-carried snare drum I have ever seen). I was pleased to see that someone organising a march had realised that drumming is the oldest and most effective way of inspiring and controlling a group of marchers.

I was a bit upset about the shiny green, pink and white uniforms they were wearing, though. Don't these people realising that trapping polyesters is a cruel procedure, and that we are endangering the nylon species by over-hunting?

The rally marshals were in specially printed roadworker-orange vests, handing out balloons. About 200 people were milling around, including a gothboy in a skirt and middle-aged ladies in PFLAG hats. A man had a badge declaring himself a 'recovered Pentecostalist'. A person in a costume shaped like a large, human-sized dog-head wandered around. And a man was leading a huge dog, about five feet long and two and a half feet high, which was wearing a set of saddlebags over its back. The obligatory cop and sailor costumes were in force.

Oh god, the Raelians are here. One carried a sign on a pole that was high enough to be seen from most of the square:

De-Baptise Yourself

From your homophobic, misogynistic religion.

Which would be a good time to mention the seven or eight Christian hecklers. They started at the northern corner of King George Square (see map from Google Earth, below, which is NOT in the public domain), and the leader was exhorting people to turn from their ways.

Note: This picture is not accurate, as King George Square is
having a bus station built under it. Half the Square is fenced off,
including all of the southern patch of grass - the Fair Tickets stall
was against the wooden fence. The side of Adelaide St next to the Square is also
fenced off - the street is only half as wide as usual. Photos below this one, taken about 4 weeks later, show how Adelaide St has been blocked off.

If you have Google Earth
on your computer, click here to see these maps in GE.

I did not hear what he said, because I was busy taking notes of the signs that the others were carrying:

Jesus Died So That Gays Would Repent Of Their Sin, not Glorify It.

Turn and Live!

You Shall Not:

- abortion
- hate
- unforgiveness

- sex outside of marriage
- lusting in our hearts
- homosexuality/brothels

- People use Jesus' name as a swear word
- The Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain

The Above Are Crimes Against God

Why do Homos hate a Loving GOD when God is simply warning them that they will die in their sin if they do not repent?

Gay people love their sin but hate the TRUTH

Jesus can set you free from your perversion

At least one of the Christians was wearing an anti-evolution T-Shirt. Another one seemed to be a bit overexcited, and not sticking too the party line - he called out that gay people were 'bum-sniffers' (which is unfair, some don't do that at all, they just have anal sex. Well, many gay men do.). He got told to be quiet by the guy doing all of the talking/preaching.

KGSfromhecklersiteshowingclosedsection 7-7-2006 10-30-00 AM

This is a shot of King George Square from several weeks later. This is from the same spot where the hecklers were standing.

As I was moving around noting down what was on the signs, he told me that I could write down that 'gays were bumsniffers'. I ignored him. I reckon he was the closet gay amongst that group. Hope you're reading this, sailor!

About twenty people were attracted by the noise and came over the heckle the hecklers. While there was some angry shouting, and some 'God is forgiving and loving, unlike you'-type rebuttal, most of the return heckling was quite positive - not friendly, but putting the Christians on the tactical defensive and marginalising them, without actually closing them down.

A PFLAG lady waving a small flag was the first to get up on the low wall that the Christians were on. One of the queerbloc unionists had a banner was amongst the Christians as well. Two queer-friendly Christian groups, Acceptance (link to Sydney group, Brisbane group has no site) and the Metropolitan Community Church stood silently holding their banners so the bigoted Christians could see them.

The younger anti-hecklers came back with three counter-chants:

"F**K OFF Homophobes!"

"If you're gay and you know it clap your hands"

"Suck More C**k!"

By 10.10am, the Christians were thoroughly infiltrated by queers, and moved off to Spot 2 on the map, above. Much the same thing happened to them there, when they were approached by police, and moved to spot 3, where they stayed, being mostly ignored.

While all the fun had been going on, some speeches were happening. The sound system was very soft indeed, and I had been listening the the heckling without even realising that the business had started.

I didn't try and get close enough to hear the speeches. I'm sure they were worthy. I was more interested in the fact that at least half the crowd was milling around not listening either. They had all come for a march, presumably, but the speeches were not compelling them. By 10.30, it looked like 40o-500 people were in the Square - maybe more. At 10.38, people were called on to have their 'whistles ready', and stand ready to march. I raced from the Square up onto Adelaide St, to where 45 bikes, each with at least one dyke riding it, were waiting to lead the rally. At 10.45 they moved out, one by one.

While the bikes took off, the Samba band had moved to Spot 2 on the above map. People in the Sqaure followed them to make the main body of the march. The band held place, marking time while waiting for the bikes to move out, and I realised that someone had put a lot of thought into how this march was going to work. If the band had not been there, people would have spilled all along Adelaide St, in the way of the bikes, making the marshals' and cops' job a lot harder. As it was, everyone was kept in the right place.

Map of the march route from King George Square to Musgrave Park, South Brisbane.
For more details go to Whereis.com.au, and search for the suburb 'Brisbane' in the state
'Queensland'. When you get the map, zoom in. When you zoom in far enough, you should see
King George Square marked on the map.

Behind the bikes and the band, 12 people carried a large rainbow flag.

I scurried up and down the side of the march, avoiding buses (only half the road was closed) and dodging cops on motorbikes (real cops, not costumes). And my scurrying paid off - some of the signs I saw were:

The Lesbian Said About That The Better

Just Shut Up and Eat It

Lip Balm Lesbian


Gay and Lesbian Immigration Task Force

Happy Campers

"Show your true colours - Open Doors"

"Up Yours Howard" (Prime Minister John Howard's head stuck on top of some gay porn)

"There Is No Substitute for Equality (Queer Radio - the slogan is a pun on the Arnott's Biscuits slogan "There Is No Substitute for Quality")

Brisbane Lesbian and Gay Pride Choir

QUT Student Guild Queer Department

OWLS Social Club (Older, Wiser Lesbians).


An earth-toned rainbow flag with a bear's pawprint in the canton - the International Bear Brotherhood flag.

PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) Brisbane

GLAM (Gay and Lesbian ASU (Australian Services Union) Members)

Gay and Lesbian Phone Counselling at glwa.org.au

University of Queensland Ally Program.

As we marched we were given friendly and cheers by what looked like to be a music and dance group in tribal costume, in the grounds outside the QPAC building (see map of route). There were also unconfirmed reports of some friendly builders (BLF members) as the march turned from Adelaide St to North Quay (once again, see map).

While the march was on the Queen Victoria Bridge, I walked up to a pedestrian bridge near the bus station. From there, I could see that the march stretched about three-quarters the length of the bridge - roughly 400 metres, about 7 or 8 people wide.

As the march moved on, we approached Musgrave Park. At about 1127 we hit the corner of Manning St and Musgrave Park. Since we had been smart enough to buy entry passes at King George Square, we walked straight in, instead of having to line up to pay the $5 admission to the Fair Day.

Note: Once again, this map generated using Google Earth is not accurate
There were fences all around the park, to keep non-payers out.

One of the first things I noticed, after being given my free showbag by www.gayqueensland.net, was an outside broadcast by local community station Switch 1197AM. I was mildly surprised to see that the local 'alternative' community station 4ZZZ FM was not doing this - ZZZ is the home of Dykes on Mikes, and the (recently closed, due to lack of volunteers) Queer Radio.

But the fact that an OB had been organised was pretty impressive. Any community radio station that can do this is doing a good job, and someone must have gone and made the arrangements behind the scenes. These are all signs of a healthy, working community.

Most of my fair day was spent either trawling stalls for information - mainly for events for the activist, political and community calendar that I'm putting here on Let's Take Over.

There were heaps of corporate stalls - holidays, beauty, bric-a-brac, house decorations, pets, clothes, financial services and so on.

Political and community stalls included:

Australian Marriage Equality

Team Brisbane - gay and lesbian sports teams in Brisbane

The Labor Party - including info on Rainbow Labor, and the party's campaigns against the Government's Work Choices and Telstra Sale plans.

The Anti-Discrimination Commission

2QT2BSTR8 (Too cute to be straight), help for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, intersex or just questioning people in Logan and Beenleigh, 16-19 years old (They can also help with meetings for 20-25 year olds).

St Luke's
Positive Directions program for people living with HIV/AIDS

Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG)

Queensland University of Technology's (QUT) Equity Section

QUT's Galnet, for QUT staff who are GLTBIQ

QUT's Ally Network

QUT Student Guild's Queer Portfolio

The Metropolitan Community Church of Brisbane

Seventh Day Adventist Kinship Australia

Acceptance Brisbane (Gay and Lesbian Catholics, their families and friends)

Women's Health Queensland Wide

I was glad to see a lot of official information on domestic violence in same sex relationships. Since queers often face violence, it is natural to want to ignore queer-on-queer violence - bringing it up can be seen as 'playing into the enemy's hands'. The Domestic Violence Advocacy Service
has a 24/7 dvconnect number - 1800 811 811 - or call the police on 000

There was plenty of socialising and listening to the acts at the Rainbow Stage, and a quiz competition. Oh, and the Best Bum competition, and the Dance comp too.

So after a long day I headed home for an early bed (8 am start on Sunday morning, and an article to start writing.)

Anyone who organises political events needs to think about the professionalism, the competence and the organising skills that must have been needed to pull the Pride Rally, March and Fair Day together. If nothing else comes out of this, I hope to see more drums leading marches in the future.

Keep your feeds open.