Opinion: Pride WA need to radically reassess their priorities


Pride WA went way too far in 2019. They have been on a pretty rotten trajectory for some time now. But last year the (attempted) petty micromanagement of floats, the corporate sponsorships and the accompanying overt hostility to progressive LGBTI politics all plumbed new depths.

The pride parade is an important fixture of the LGBTI calendar. For a group of people whose common experience is one of shame, secrecy and isolation, an ostentatious public display of pride and defiance marching through the streets is a thrilling and affirming act.

But that isn’t all it is, and hasn’t been for some time. Despite what some of the defenders of the existing organisation seem to think, LGBTI+ people are not, as a group, so enthralled by the spectacle of glittery hunks dancing to pop music on a motorised float that we don’t see what else, besides the evident beauty of the male form, is being celebrated every year. Large chunks of the parade have become little more than a long advertising reel for companies with reputations to shore up and cash to spend.

Pride WA sponsor Woodside is of the largest LNG companies in the world. Woodside’s new projects in the state’s far north will generate up to four times the projected emissions output of the Adani coal mine in Queensland.

Right now Sydney, the birthplace of the pride parade in Australia, is choking on hazardous fumes expelled by bushfires whose ferocity has been magnified by the effects of global warming. Its effects are only set to get worse. And yet fossil fuel companies in Australia are doubling down on their toxic commodities, investing more than ever in new mines and extraction plants.

There are no gay rights on a dead planet. By aligning themselves with corporate criminals like Woodside, the Pride WA committee are putting themselves on the wrong side of history, and worse, making all of us accomplices. And they have proven themselves hostile to anyone who might puncture the party vibes illusion by pointing this out.

When Rainbow Rebellion WA, Perth-based activists who have been organising protests against Scott Morrison’s “religious freedoms” bill, called for supporters to join us on a float protesting both Pride WA’s new petty micromanaging rules and the preponderance of police and corporations on the parade, marshalls were sent to harass and intimidate us.

Sound equipment belonging to us was deliberately damaged. Many young people, some attending their first parade, were driven away by this behaviour.

This is not good enough. A pride committee which prioritises corporations over LGBTI activist and community groups has lost its way. There’s a great deal to be gained by bringing the pride march back to its roots. It might be a bit less dull.

The elation of being out and proud and surrounded by people wearing glitter and not much else is still there every time, but god it gets a bit samey when middle-of-the-road conservagays and image-conscious companies set the tone (without even getting started on the cops).

Rainbow Rebellion WA is a community based organisation focussed on fighting for LGBTIQ+ rights. Pride WA were invited to submit a response to the community concern.