Pride without Pause: Why Australia Celebrates Pride Year-Round

Hi gays, happy Pride month! You might be wondering; didn’t we just do this? You’re probably thinking about Sydney Mardi Gras, Australia’s biggest LGBTQ+ Pride event, which just took place in March. A few months before that was Brisbane’s annual Pride festival. So why doesn’t Australia just celebrate in June like the rest of the world? The most likely theory is that celebrating Pride, an event that is synonymous with bright colours, raunchy outfits and entertainment, would look pretty damn miserable if we celebrated it in the middle of winter.  

But why was June chosen as the month to celebrate the queer community to begin with? June first became the world’s designated Pride month in 1970 to commemorate and remember the Stonewall Riots, which had taken place the year prior. You’ve likely heard of Stonewall before, but if you haven’t, here’s a quick history lesson. On June 28th, 1969, Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village, New York City, was violently raided by police around 1am. The unexpected arrival of police incited the patrons of Stonewall to fight back against police. The three hour long skirmish left the inside of the bar completely wrecked, but also inspired others to fight back against homophobia. The event is now known as one of the most prolific events in LGTBQ+ history, sparking the gay rights movement around the world. 

While Australia still recognises June as the official LGBTQ+ Pride month, each state continues the celebrations with their own dedicated events. Aussie Pride festivals revolve around the summer months, starting with Brisbane’s events in September to Sydney Mardi Gras in March.  

So, let’s take a look around Australia’s Pride-ful history: 

Brisbane Pride Festival began in September 1990, with a rally and gay Pride march through Brisbane city to Musgrave Park. At the original Pride march, activists like Toye de Wilde, Jeff Chesterton, and Fiona Power spoke up at the event in support of queer politics at a crucial time in Queensland’s history. The rally took place after the political fall of QLD premier Joh Bjelke-Peterson, who was infamous for his anti-LGBTQ+ ideas. The rally was followed by Queensland’s Dykes on Bikes, a group of lesbian activists and motorcyclists, who led the march to Musgrave Park for Queensland’s first Pride Fair. Brisbane still celebrates Pride every September with various queer-themed events, and by lighting up the Story Bridge and City Hall building in rainbow colours. 

Sydney Mardi Gras was first held in June 1978 as a nighttime celebration, followed by a morning protest and march. More than 500 people gathered on Oxford Street to call for an end to discrimination, police harassment and the repeal of anti-homosexual laws. Numbers rose to 2000, and though the organisers had permission to march, this was later revoked, and police officers broke up the parade, making 53 arrests. Sydney Mardi Gras is still celebrated annually, though it was changed to be celebrated in March in the 80’s and remains the largest Pride event in Oceania.   

Victoria has been celebrating their Victoria’s Pride (previously known as Melbourne Pride) and Midsumma festival annually every summer since 1988. Victoria’s Pride was an event that was established in the summer of 2021 to mark the 40 year anniversary of sex between men being decriminalised in Victoria. 

South Australia celebrates their South Australia Pride Gala in June, as well as a Pride March in November, which was first held over 50 years ago in 1973 when homosexuality was still criminalised in the state. 

SpringOUT is Canberra’s annual queer festival, also celebrated in November, which began in 1999 with just two volunteers and crowd of 300 people, who marched to Glebe Park to advocate for gay rights. 

Western Australia has been celebrating Pride throughout November with fairs, parades, and other queer-focused events since Western Australians protested discriminatory laws in 1989.

Tasmania’s TasPride has been celebrated every February since 1992. They also host their TasPride Queens Ball in June, a queer art exhibition in September and a TasPride Christmas Picnic in December. 

Northern Territory’s Top End Pride Festival and Katherine Pride Festival are both celebrated in June, which have been running since 1985. 

So, while the country will be celebrating LGBTQ+ Pride throughout June with the rest of the world, we can take pride in knowing that the celebrations will be continuing long past June 30th. 

Jacinta Rossetto
Jacinta Rossetto

Jacinta Rossetto is a writer, artist and editor studying Creative Writing at QUT. Her passion project is a little something called Dawn Street Zine, a zine that she writes, designs, produces and scouts content for. Her favourite genres to write in are gothic fiction, literary fiction and romance fiction.

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