It’s Saturday morning late February and we had an important date on the Sunshine Coast at the Pride Festival. The fabulous Eumundi Markets just a short drive south of Noosa in Queensland, are always hugely popular but on this day the Markets would be the venue for a Pride celebration which would add even more colour, zing and sparkle than usual.
We arrived to find two hunky dads holding hands and pushing their baby in a pram and we ‘instinctively’ sensed we were in the right place. The 10th Anniversary Fair Day, replete with a multi-coloured balloon entrance offset by perfect Queensland sunshine had already seen the ride in by the famous Dykes On Bikes and next on the agenda were the burlesque performers followed by the highly celebrated Pride Paw Parade.
On the way to the main stage we met last years defending champion pooch radiantly attired in rainbow coloured angel wings with matching scarf and tutu. Her very proud, colour coordinated owner, was anxiously anticipating another top award this year.
On the main stage the Burlesque L’ Amore Dancers in their top hats, corsetry and heels were seductively strutting their stuff to the delight of the crowd relaxing on the grass. Iconic local drag queen and festival hostess with the mostest, Miss Melony Brests, kept things real and moving right along with announcements, introductions and a bit of bawdy banter.
The Paw Parade was ushered in by local drummers and saucy Samba dancers and then the real stars appeared, the rainbow dogs, fairy winged puppies and pretty pooches in pink tule.
They all looked magnificent and, as they paraded by to meet the judges, we were not sure who was having the most fun, the dolled-up dogs, their apprehensive owners or the adoring audience. This ‘best in show’ competition has three categories, Most Glamorous Pride Pooch, Best Pride Parent Lookalike and Best Rainbow Pride Pooch. The judges had a difficult task ahead of them.
But the Festival is not all about camped up tail waggers and it was time to explore some of the 30 or so stalls promoting LGBTIQ awareness, wellbeing and health services.
We first checked out our friends at Visit Gay Australia where GALTA executives Louise Terry and Rod Stringer were leading the team handing out dozens of pink bags promoting LGBTIQ friendly holiday businesses and destinations, both locally and nationally. Of course GayMenOnHoliday.com has a particular affinity to a sturdy travel brochure.
At another stall we met the guys from Australia Digs Equality. Convenor, Dylan Carmichael explained DIGS stands for ‘Diverse in Gender and Sexuality’ and actively promotes full equality for all people.
Wear it Purple, the stall next door, is an organisation of young people who advocate ‘pride in who you are’, helping fellow rainbow young people feel safe, supported and empowered. As usual it was great to see Queensland Police lending their support to the festivities and raising awareness.
The many other stalls from QUAC (Queensland AIDS Council) to PFlag were doing a fantastic job as they always do, talking to people, answering questions and passing out important, informative material.
The music from the main stage started again and we caught sight of shirtless men. It was time to return to see some very cute local guys performing their well rehearsed routines. They certainly were a crowd pleaser and provided a more macho perspective on burlesque.
Unfortunately, we could not spend any more time at the Festival and we were disappointed to miss local artist Lorelle Murray’s Pride Art Exhibition.
The festival did not end with the markets. There was Show Night at the Waterfront Hotel in Maroochydore featuring the Powerpuff Girls (Melony Brests, Sall Monalla Ash and Holly Wood) presenting a night full of fun and frivolity. The Festival planned to finish on a high with Pink Fizz, a lazy lunch and swim at stunning Kondililla Falls.
The Sunshine Coast Pride Festival started fairly small, exactly 10 years ago. Now there are three days of activities, artists, venues, parties and performances, with a diverse line-up ranging from Paw Parades to Samba dancers, DJs and Drag Queens, all celebrating the Sunshine Coast’s LGBTIQ community and the quest for equality, understanding, acceptance and a lot of fun and frolicking along the way. See you all in a few weeks at the Noosa Rainbow River Festival.