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09 June 2021
BY DYLAN DE JONG
Re-imposed regional COVID-19 restrictions and event cancellations has prompted a Wimmera LGBTQI advocate to call on the community to support Pride Month.
Wimmera Pride Project treasurer Loucas Vettos stressed it was imperative individuals, organisations and community groups stood behind the LGBTQI community during pride celebrations.
The group was forced to move its annual Pride Night celebrations, which coincide with the month, to July 23 after a seven-day circuit- breaker lockdown late last week.
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Mr Vettos encouraged the Wimmera to show its support for Pride Month this June despite the changes.
“The more people who can support the pride project and the queer community, the more it will show that people care and the Wimmera is a safe space for the LGBTQI community,” he said.
Pride Month is celebrated globally to honour the 1969 Stonewall Riots in Manhattan.
A police raid in a gay club on June 28 prompted the LGBTQI community to fight back in what led to a six-day protest in the New York City borough.
The riots served as a catalyst for a gay rights movement globally.
Mr Vettos said modern Pride Month celebrations were an opportunity to peacefully protest and raise political awareness of issues facing the community.
“In 2021, it is a celebration, but it should also be a time of reflection delving back into the history of why we have Pride Month,” he said.
“The reason we have this month is because of the people who paved the way for us. People like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera who started the whole thing and got us to where we are now.
“It’s also an opportunity for organisations, corporations, sporting teams and individuals to represent their allyship.”
Mr Vettos said the long-standing tradition represented an opportunity for Australia to continue its journey in becoming a safer place for LGBTQI people.
“I feel like as a general population, people are happier to step out of the closet now than they were 10 or 20 years ago because there’s so much more acceptance,” he said.
“But there’s also a lot of work to be done.
“It was only recently in Australia that we’ve got marriage equality and there’s lots of debate around adoption in different states of Australia for same-sex partnerships.”
Mr Vettos said education would be key in driving positive change.
“That’s my biggest thing – it’s so easy to Google the Stonewall Riots or who Marsha P is, or what Pride Month is,” he said.
“It’s not a big scary world and there’s no such thing as a stupid question. If you have a question, talk to your friends about it or talk to people in the queer community.
“It’s about having ownership of what you say and treating other people with respect, and I think there has definitely been more respect for the queer community.”
Wimmera Pride Project committee worked had to program an evening of celebration with special guest drag artists Art Simone and Pashion Couture. Art Simone was a contestant on season one of RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under.
“The fact we have a safe place to play queer anthems and have performers just brings something extra to our community,” Mr Vettos said.
“We would love for people to come and support our events.
“We also have Queer Beers once a month and other events throughout the year. You don’t have to be part of the queer community to attend.”
The entire June 9, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!