Perth Pride: LGBTI community challenges corporatisation

Rainbow Rebellion WA. Photo: Rainbow Rebellion WA

Perth Pride assembled its biggest parade to date on November 30, with 115 floats. But many in the LGBTIQ community were unhappy that a large number belonged to corporate sponsors and police while smaller community floats were squeezed out.

Just three days before the parade, PrideWA controversially announced it was limiting the number of parade-goers by issuing set numbers of wristbands to each float. That number was decided on the basis of who had registered and given estimates of the numbers in their floats.

Larger numbers of wristbands had been issued to floats sponsored by corporations, such as Woodside Energy, whereas Transfolk WA received just 20 wristbands and Rainbow Rebellion only 15. It meant that the grassroots floats struggled to include all their organisers, let alone friends, family and supporters.

A spokesperson for Rainbow Rebellion Jacqueline Blackburn condemned the corporatisation of the parade. She said Pride was being “dominated by banks, uniformed police and corporations such as Woodside” and that PrideWA was “clearly favouring these companies” over young LGBTIQ people marching with floats.

“Pride belongs to the people; we marched in the street to win marriage equality and we’ll be marching in Pride because our fight isn’t over. We are outraged at this move by PrideWA,” she said.

Rainbow Rebellion (formerly Equal Love), a major part of the successful campaign to win marriage equality and now campaigning against the federal government’s religious freedoms bill, declared it would not be wearing wristbands and urged others who had failed to get one to march with them.

In the end, a defiant Rainbow Rebellion contingent, including many first-time rally goers led the parade, chanting, “We shall not be quiet. Stonewall was a riot.” Their numbers swelled as people jumped the barriers to join them.

They drew the ire of some rally marshals for holding a large banner denouncing Woodside as a climate criminal and another demanding the separation of church and state.

The contingent also took aim at the police presence and floats chanting, “Bottoms/Tops, We all hate cops” and “Always was, always will be, Aboriginal land”.

For some Rainbow First Nations people, even the sight of police is triggering, especially in the awake of the recent murders of Kumanjayi Walker in the NT and Joyce Clarke in Geraldton. The fact that the police march with guns strapped to their belts is wrong.

Interestingly, the police refused to help the organisers remove Rainbow Rebellion’s signs.