THE word “gay” has two meanings: to be happy, or to be homosexual (or any -sexual that doesn’t involve just man ‘n woman).
From next week, both states of being will be celebrated across Perth at PrideFEST with two weeks of performances by the local lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) community.
The opening event “Happy Pride”, on November 6, is a first for the festival since it was founded 25 years ago by Pride WA.
The event is an outdoor party starting from 6pm, at the James Place Amphitheatre in Northbridge, and will give audiences a sneak peak of upcoming shows.
Shows on the night include live entertainment from music talent Randa and the Soul Kingdom, DJ Roski and The Tommyhawks.
Pride WA president Andrew Barker, who came out as gay 10 years ago at the age of 39, says the two-week festival is not just fun for everyone, but important for the LGBTIQ community to feel comfortable in public.
“For example, if two guys are walking down the street holding hands, I would bet any money they would get at least one gibe from one end of Murray Street to the other,” Mr Barker says.
“There are acceptance issues everywhere and that’s why it’s so important that Pride exists, and for the LGBTIQ community to be visible in public.”
He says the festival has been instrumental in making his community feel more accepted than ever, and earmarked a lack of marriage equality as the main issue for the group going forward.
When the festival started more than two decades ago, Pride WA was mainly an advocacy group standing for equality and the human rights of the LGBTIQ community, fighting laws that actively discriminated against them.
Now, as attitudes have improved, and with legal equality achieved (except for marriage equality) Mr Barker says it’s become increasingly about arts and culture—and having fun.
Happy Pride ($10 per person via the website or $15 at the door) is at the James Street Amphitheatre in Northbridge.
More than 550 people had bought tickets when the Voice went to print. Pride WA members enter free before 8pm.
Some other events are free.
The festival ends on November 22, with the closing “25th anniversary Pride” parade on November 21, from 8pm.
To book or to download the full program, visit http://www.pridewa.com.au.
by EMMIE DOWLING