ALBANY PRIDE FESTIVAL will be returning in 2023, running from the 3rd – 12th March 2023, to host what promises to be a very diverse line-up of events that will provide something for everyone.
Theme for this year’s Pride Festival is “Let’s Get Visible”, with visibility and inclusion being a guiding focus for the lineup ahead and providing a fun ‘80s-esque design theme for the promotional material.
The focus on visibility came very early on during the Pride planning process, following on from Albany Pride Festival 2022, where the Pride Planning Committee started taking serious steps to making the Pride Festival more accessible and therefore inclusive, the results of which were met positively by attendees.
Working with Living Proud’s Queer & Accessible project, Albany Pride Festival was able to attain an evaluation of the venues for the Festival and their ability to meet accessibility requirements. Albany Pride Festival was able to welcome Australian sign-language interpreters to a couple of events for the first time, including our family and community-focused Fair Day, as well as providing quiet and sensory spaces.
“Inclusion has always been at the forefront of our objectives,” says Millie Reid, Albany Pride Vice President, “but working with Living Proud and members of our community surrounding accessibility has been an immensely positive learning experience for us all, and really enlightened us to what inclusion looks like, what inclusion is. This is a long-term commitment for us.”
Visibility is particularly important in rural and regional areas for LGBTQIA+ people, particularly in areas where more conservative opinions and misconceptions of LGBTQIA+ people exist. As such, visibility has been a key part of Albany Pride’s objectives.
“It’s important to show young LGBTQIA+ people – and older LGBTQIA+ people – that are struggling with their sexuality, gender, or intersex status that there is a future for them. To show that LGBTQIA+ people go on to lead successful, happy lives,” says Albany Pride President and social worker, Annie Arnold, “Visibility is about showing society that we can live normal lives, that we contribute to our society and communities like everybody else does.
“Showing that LGBTQIA+ people can thrive, and not just survive, is crucial.”
For 2023, the Albany Pride Festival committee has committed 15% of all sponsorship funding goes towards accessibility and inclusion for the Festival, to ensure that as many of the events as possible are inclusive of accessibility needs, so that the Pride Festival can be enjoyed by as many people as possible.
Tiger Bird, Albany Pride’s Media Coordinator says: “The wonderful thing about the Queer community is our diversity, and I think that’s something to embrace and cherish. We transcend so many different demographics, we’re made up of people of different generations and different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, from different socio-economic backgrounds. Some of us are neurotypical, some of us are neurodivergent. Some of us have accessibility needs, some of us don’t. Our sexualities and gender identities are diverse. As a community, we’re as diverse as the greater society is.
“I think that diversity is our strength. But in the past, I think the community has sometimes neglected that, and I’m glad Pride organisations and communities are working to address that, particularly in the face of increasing antagonism and division in society. Pride should be a time for us to be able to be ourselves, to be visible, to participate and to celebrate.”
Ease-of-access for people with accessibility needs have been at the forefront of planning many of the events for the Festival, as well as providing a greater diversity of events that may appeal to different sections of the Pride community. As usual, Albany Pride Festival 2023 will provide the opportunity for members of the community to party and let their hair down, but also other events that might appeal to those who aren’t the partying type, such as arts events.
“What I love about the upcoming lineup is that we’ve got a lot to offer people who aren’t so keen on the loud parties and dancefloors,” says Millie Reid, “We’ve got a lot of arts events too, and many things we haven’t done before. We’ll be hosting a sports carnival, and given a lot of the media commentary surrounding inclusion in sports, this is very important.”
The theme of “Let’s Get Visible”, of course, is directly reminiscent of the Olivia Newton-John hit Physical but was a theme that was decided on before Newton-John’s passing this year.
“We decided on the theme ‘Let’s Get Visible’ quite early on in the year,” says Tiger Bird, “We were coming up with ideas for our Pride Party theme, and after throwing around a few suggestions, we decided on an ‘80s theme, because it’s fun and provides amble inspiration for dressing up, but also because the ‘80s were quite an important time in LGBTQIA+ history.
“Naturally, when discussing visibility and the ‘80s, it was only a matter of time before we started humming the words ‘let’s get visible, visible…’, and so it stuck. Unfortunately, Olivia passed away a few months later, but given her cemented status as a gay icon, it also takes on an extra meaning.”