Letting the flag fly with Pride

March 22, 2024 BY

True colours: Swaying in the breeze outside the Bendigo Library, the Pride flag symbolises the celebration of love, diversity and inclusion that is the Bendigo Pride Festival. Photo: ALICIA S. COOK

BENDIGO Pride Festival is in full swing with a week of celebrations down and only a few more days to go.

To launch the festival, Pride organisers, artists, and supporters gathered outside the library to hoist the Pride flag.

Director of Bendigo Pride, John Richards said the ceremony to raise the Pride flag is intended as a celebration of queer culture.

“I think of the various LGBT flags as more an artistic celebration,” said Mr Richards.

“There’s nothing oppressive about the pride flag, there’s nothing threatening about the pride flag, or the trans flag, or any of the other flags.

“They’re there to say, ‘People exist, find your tribe, isn’t it great we’re all here, and let’s celebrate diversity’,” he said.

The rainbow Pride flag, designed in 1978 by Gilbert Blake, was originally intended to be eight stripes, with each one a symbol for a different value such as orange for healing, or violet for spirit.

“My favourite thing about that story is that they had to get rid of the hot pink stripe because the fabric was too expensive,” said Mr Richards.

“It’s always been evolving and that’s kind of fun in itself and as people want to celebrate different things, it turns into different things.”

Sponsors of Bendigo Pride this year include Bendigo Bank, Agnico Eagle Fosterville Goldmine, and Bendigo Health.

“A bank, a goldmine, a hospital, these are really important, central pillars of any community and to have them say, ‘Yes, you are part of this as well’,” said Mr Richards.

“I think it’s really important not just for people who’ve already found their journey but also for anyone who’s looking to work out who they are, just to know those options are there.”

This Pride Festival is Mr Richard’s last in the role of director, and he said he’s proud of the contribution that has been made to the queer community over the years.

“There’s always that sense of place that we’re after. Bendigo Pride Festival couldn’t exist in the same way anywhere else.”

There are still some Pride events to take part in, including the Pride Roller Disco tonight at Truscott stadium and the Bendigo Pride’s MarQet tomorrow (23 March) in the Bendigo library gardens.