Perth celebrates Pride with parade and multiple parties

Perth celebrated Pride last night with a parade presentation curtailed by Covid-19 concerns. A crowd of over 10,000 people gathered at Gloucester Park to watch the floats and marchers work their way round the track.

Last year the parade which has traditionally wound its way through the streets of Northbridge was completely cancelled due to the outbreak of Covid-19.

This year Pride WA opted to follow the lead of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and opt for a venue where crowd numbers could be controlled, contract tracing logins could be enforced and the size of the event could be effectively scaled up or down depending on where Covid-19 restrictions fell on the day.

The festivities began the traditional way with a ride-by from the Dykes on Bikes who revved the crowd into a celebratory mood.

Their motorcycles adorned with rainbow flags, the local chapter of the social group flew past the crowds blowing their horns. From a movement started in  San Francisco in 1976, there are now over 100 Dykes on Bikes groups around the world.

The parade kicked off with recognition of Indigenous people. For the first time in the parade’s 30 year history the Indigenous float was organised by Pride WA.

Corroboree for Life performed on the stage in front of the grandstands, before the first marchers and floats worked their way down the track.

Health workers were given a prominent position in the parade acknowledging their hard work over the previous 18 months.

The contingent combined staff from the Department of Health, alongside the WA Country Health Service, East Metropolitan Health Service, North Metropolitan Health Service and South Metropolitan Health Service.

St John Ambulance showcased their latest ‘Glambulance’. The decommissioned vehicle was decorated with a pride theme designed by Nathan Richards. Richards came up with several potential designs for the ambulance and the public chose which was applied.

The Australian Medial Association was also taking part in the march, the organisation just released a new position statement highlighting that more needs to be done to support the health of LGBTIQA+ people. The AMA has also recently called on the WA government to take action of practices that aim to convert or suppress a person’s sexuality or gender identity.

Community groups were the focus of the parade, with a large number of social groups marching along the track. From the Perth Pride Choir to Out for Australia, WA Pups and their Handlers, Queers in Science, community radio station RTRFM 92.1, Bi+ Community Perth, Perth Gay social Club and the Asexual Community of Perth, a wide range of groups were showcased.

WAAC, the recently rebranded WA AIDS Council, highlighted that it’s now 40 years that the world has been responding to the much longer running pandemic. The organisation also showed the diversity of their services that also includes the M Clinic, and the Freedom Centre.

While there were close to 90 entries in this years parade, one thing there was less of was corporate entries with Pride WA taking onboard community feedback that the event was being swamped by large businesses.

This year the committee opted to only accept floats from business that were financial sponsors of the festival or could show that they made significant recognition of LGBTIQA+ staff within their businesses.

The corporate world was represented by Channel 7, who have been a major sponsor of the festival for the last three years. Alcoa, ANZ, BHP, Fortescue Metals Group, Bankwest, Woodside Energy, and Coles.

Perth’s four public universities also had large contingents in the parade with Murdoch, Curtin, Edith Cowan University and the University of Western Australia all taking part.

From the political realm Rainbow Labor were lead by Senator Louise Pratt and the federal Member for Perth Patrick Gorman. While River Clarke, a candidate in the upcoming federal election, lead The Greens’ float alongside Senator Jordan Steele-John and state politician Brad Pettit.

The growing number of LGBTIQA+ sporting groups made up a large section of the parade with the Perth Rams Rugby Union club, Perth Frontrunners, Perth Pythons Hockey team, Spectres Basketball squad, Rock Wallabies climbing group, Perth Hornets AFL team, Western Swifts Badminton team and White Pointers Water Polo club all taking part.

Look out for all our photos of the parade which will be posted over the coming days.

Graeme Watson

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