In a bid to empower the region’s gay community, The Geelong Pride Games provides a unique opportunity for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning and Intersex individuals to come together and participate in social and sporting events over the Melbourne Cup Long Weekend.
Operated fully by volunteers, the event is intended to suit anybody’s tastes and abilities with several games and activities with a range of prizes to be won, while allowing people to be part of something shared and meaningful. We chat to the organiser of this uniting non-for-profit event, Justin Gummer.
Hi Justin, thanks for taking the time to chat with Forte, how are you and what are you up to at the moment?
Thank you for your questions. Our time has recently been taken-up with organising the events and activities for people in Geelong’s gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, trans and inter-sex community. The Geelong Pride Games is an exciting project which is open for everyone to come and join in with.
What you’re putting together is no doubt great for Geelong, what first sparked the idea to put the event together?
Recognising the apparent lack of events and avenues for Geelong’s gender-rich community, we felt it was time to arrange some happenings to create awareness and excitement to celebrate the gender and sexual diversity of our city and regions.
We understand you’ve done a bit of travel too, how does Geelong’s LGBTQI scene/community reflect that of what you’ve seen elsewhere?
To be frank, we have been surprised by the lack of visibility and activities for the LGBTQI in the area. Melbourne is close-by (only an hour by train) and has well-established venues and services that have been running for a while. The state capital pretty much acts as a dragnet for LGBTQI people from the Barwon area to escape to – and then leave behind when they return home again.
From the people we have spoken to, Geelong and the Bellarine has an unrecognised demand to form its own identity that reflects the unique regional characteristics and places. This is perfectly reasonable given the relatively large population here, and being a modern and progressive city, Geelong has enough diversity to accommodate everyone – whatever their gender or sexuality.
How would you like it to be in Geelong?
Although attitudes have changed enormously in the recent 50 years of gay and lesbian rights movement in Australia, there is still stigma in society, particularly in regional and isolated areas where it can be difficult for minority groups to ‘be themselves’ and feel safe.
In this age, we do not need to suffer the ugly faces of discrimination and prejudice – whatever their forms. We are still fighting to have laws changed to address and recognise unfairness around fundamental human-rights.
Mental health is still a massive issue that affects many in the LGBTQI community. Work-place reform in many businesses and organisations still has a long-way to come. So hopefully in the long-term, we will see a more normative and inclusive society that accepts everyone equally.
Back to the event itself, what made you decide on the structure of a “games” competition?
The event has been designed with a community-focus so that it would appeal to everyone, that they are welcomed and become involved whatever their skill-set, level or capabilities, and still feel like a winner.
Fun was also a major deciding factor in having a games event that isn’t over-competitive, and participants have a good chance of winning prizes just for being themselves. The referees are anticipating the candidates bring lots of local colour, flair and pride to the games – and to be ‘surprised’ by the amazing offerings of diversity from the community.
The whole thing culminates in a picnic on Melbourne Cup day where the awards will also be held, what will be the runnings like of this?
The Geelong Pride Picnic is a colourful and casual open-day in one of Geelong’s beautiful and historic parks. We encourage everyone in the LGBTQI community, their families and friends to turn-up and bring picnic lunches, rugs and games to share and herald-in the Cup winners for 2016.
Starting at noon with a fun-run, the day will feature local music, bands and acts. There will also be some recreational sporting activities and the allocation of prizes to the winners of the Pride Games – a great way to top off a magnificent weekend.
How important is it for everyone to get together at events like this?
This exciting event is the first of its kind for Geelong and the Bellarine, and presents a really great opportunity for our community to get-together, meet new people, and have some fun whilst making a difference at a grass-roots level.
Get involved and sign-up to remind everyone that we can all be accepted, love, and be loved just the way that we are. The more the merrier!
Is there anything else you’d like to add before we finish up?
Thank you for your brilliant support. It’s really great to be involved with an active and dynamic community, and to have the backing of one of Australia’s premier music and entertainment magazines.
The event runs from 28th October to 1st November 2016. Enter now and get your tickets. Entries close 16th September 2016. For more information visit: http://geelongpridegames.wix.com/2016.