PRIDE WA says it’s had enough of big business running up the rainbow flag once a year while ignoring in-house discrimination.
In a move senior vice president Gerry Matera acknowledges is risky, Pride won’t accept sponsorship for its high-profile annual parade if businesses can’t show a long-term strategy to address issues faced by LGBTQI+ staff.
“It’s all good having purple shirt days and those sorts of things, but if it is only one dimensional it isn’t really having an impact in the wider community,” Mr Matera said.
“Historically we’d allowed members to participate in the parade for as little as $500 and then you wouldn’t see them again until the next year.”
Mr Matera said the move was in part sparked by Pride research which found more than half of the LGBTQI+ community still hid their identity at work.
He owns a small Inglewood café which partnered with the City of Stirling earlier this year on a program called Spill the Tea for LGBTQI+ children.
He noticed that a lot of young people would dress in what they considered “normal attire” before getting changed at the event.
“That shows to me that we have a long way to go when people don’t feel comfortable about, you know, catching public transport or just being who they are in a normal sense,” Mr Matera said.
At Pride’s AGM earlier this year members decided to pivot the organisation towards more advocacy work.
“Pride being in workplaces, educating their staff and corporates about what true diversity looks like is something that we’ve not seen before,” Mr Matera said.
But that will require additional resources, and tied to the tokenism crackdown is a lift in the sponsorship threshold.
The 30-year-old organisation has relied on Lotterywest grants and corporate donations to accommodate other support services and education programmes, but Mr Matera said a more long-term strategy was required.
Fremantle LGBTQI+ community group This n That South Side Queers co-founder Felix Pal said people considered Fremantle a progressive area but they still tended to turn a “blind eye” to homophobic behaviour.
“Members of our community have been fired for being trans, we have issues around accessibilities of gender affirmation services [and] when we look at the state of the discourse online, for example in community pages, it doesn’t take very long to find some pretty homophobic or transphobic things,” Mr Pal said.
He said corporations and governments were guilty of flying the LGBTQI+ flag as a way to absolve themselves of further actions.
“I think one of the things that many queer people struggle with is being taken seriously,” Mr Pal said.
by CLAIRE CRAIG