Each year in June the world recognises Pride Month - a celebration of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual community.
This year, Sydney Pride Festival is able to return to its in-person events after COVID-19 disrupted 2020's celebrations. Launching on June 3, the month long celebration if also a time of reflection about how far the rights and recognition of LGBTQIA people have come in the past 50 years.
This year's Sydney Pride Festival's theme is Diversity, Inclusion and Equality and recognises the significant impact the global pandemic has had on the community. While much of Australia remains free of COVID-19, we recognise the ongoing impact the pandemic has on life in Victoria. Events across Sydney include walking tours of Oxford Street, art and dance shows, story telling and the 38th annual 5km run and walk through Centennial Park.
The month of June also marks 52 years since the Stonewall Riots in New York. In 1969 homosexuality was illegal across the US, except for Illinois. When police raided the Stonewall Inn, a bar where gay, lesbian and transgender people of New York gathered, it spark the riots, and ultimately the push for the same rights and recognition as the heterosexual community.
Sydney was also home to Australia's early gay pride movement. On 24 June in 1978 saw Sydney's first Mardi Gras when more than 500 people gathered to march down Oxford Street in commemoration of the Stonewall riots and to call for the end of sexuality-based discrimination. Police broke up the march and arrested 53 people. While the charges were dropped, their names were published in the newspaper, and they faced discrimination from employers and broader society.
The following year, more than 3000 people joined the Mardi Gras and it went on to become a key event in Australia's gay pride history. The event moved to February and is now one of the world’s largest marches. The original 78ers will have a discussion forum in the Sydney Pride Festival, to share memories and thoughts about the past decades since the original march.
Events like Pride Month are a time to remember the brave people, who in the face of very real threats to their safety and freedom, fought for human rights. While most LGBTIQA people live happy and free lives in Australia, prejudice and discrimination continue to impact on the community, and this can have serious effect on people's mental health.
According to Beyond Blue, compared with heterosexual people, same-sex attracted and transgender people experience higher psychological distress and significant levels of anxiety. Flourish Australia is a proud member of ACON's Welcome Here Project. We are committed to working with people in a respectful way, that is free from discrimination and to offer support that suits the person's own unique self.
This Pride Month we encourage people to get involved with the various events across the state and the world.
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