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Pride is coming to Regional Victoria with a landmark new festival

Words by Tehya Nicholas
Main Image by Nikki Russian Photography
Others supplied

This summer, people all across Victoria will have the chance to celebrate LGBTIQ+ pride, thanks to a $6.8 million investment from the Government.

Aptly titled Victoria’s Pride, the statewide festival will kick off its inaugural celebration this summer with a two-month long stint in regional cities and towns across the state, as well as in metropolitan Melbourne. And you better gird your loins because the festivities have been tipped by organisers to rival Sydney’s famed Mardi Gras in size, vibe, goodwill… and colourful feathers.

The Andrews Labor Government, who announced the venture on August 12, has committed to at least four years of Victoria’s Pride to be held annually from December to February. The festival builds on the success of Melbourne Pride which was held over the summer of 2021-22 to mark more than 40 years since the decriminalisation of sex between men in Victoria. A massive crowd of 67,500 people are estimated to have attended last years’ events, with almost 30,000 people participating in 22 regional activities last summer, with events including a pop-up festival in Bendigo, art exhibitions, theatre shows and a movie screening. This can only mean that Victoria’s Pride will be one helluva festival.

The new festival will celebrate and support lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender diverse, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ+) Victorians, and, crucially, be accessible to our regional and rural rainbow communities.

“Victoria’s Pride will be a welcoming and inclusive celebration of LGBTIQ communities across the state – a chance for all Victorians to show visible love and support and for our community to celebrate who we are,” Equality Minister Harriet Shing said.

In a bid to capture and celebrate queer voices and stories in Victoria’s regional areas, a statewide funding program — the Regional Activation Program — has also been announced. Proposals for LGBTIQ+ arts and cultural projects, including (but not limited to) commissions/artworks, theatre performances, documented community stories, and historical collections or exhibition, are wanted to ensure statewide representation, shared regional experiences, and overall engagement with this important event.

Non-for-profit organisations and individuals with dreams of showcasing their work can apply for up to $15,000 in funding, with a limited number of major projects above $15K also up for consideration. Applicants are also encouraged to consider accessibility in order to facilitate true multi-generational and intersectional inclusion.

Commissioner for LGBTIQ+ Communities Todd Fernando said the revamped event will give the opportunity for people in regional and rural communities to both show their support and feel represented.

“It’s fantastic to see that right across Victoria we will continue to have opportunities for people to showcase their support for our diverse LGBTIQ+ communities. Whether you are a member of our fabulous rainbow communities or an ally, I encourage you to attend Victoria’s Pride events this summer,” he said.

After two-months of festivities throughout the state, Victoria’s Pride will culminate in one epic street party on Sunday 12 February 2023 in Melbourne’s iconic Gertrude and Smith Street precinct. More details about the day are still to come, but our guess is that it’s going to be one to remember.

“The final day will be the shining jewel to wind up the whole of those celebrations on a statewide basis,” Karen Bryant, Midsumma chief executive said. “We’ll bring the whole state together.”

The new festival is presented in partnership with Victoria’s leading LGBTIQ+ arts and cultural organisation Midsumma, whose annual festival will return next year from Sunday 22 January to Sunday 12 February.

To apply for a Victoria’s Pride regional grant or to find out more, please visit the Midsumma Festival website. Applications are open from now until Monday 26 September at 5pm.

WHAT: Victoria’s Pride
WHERE: Statewide
WHEN: December 2022 – February 2023
MORE INFO: Victoria’s Pride

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