Organising a pride festival in my small town was so freeing

11th February, 2021   |    By India Heywire 2021 winner   |    2 min read
Heywire winner, India – Bega, NSW

I will never forget the moment I saw that vivid poster.

“We will be hosting a Mardi Gras event, anyone interested in helping out and brainstorming, come along.”

I rang the organisers and before I knew it, I was a part of the Rainbow Wave Festival team; our community’s first ever pride event.

It’s not easy being queer in a small town.

Expressing one’s identity can be hard, regardless of your address, and rural areas are no exception.

I believe there is as much diversity here as there is in the city, it often just takes more time to uncover.

Sometimes it’s the little things, like looks, remarks or tone of voice that are disheartening.

I love my community, and we can’t let these attitudes dictate how we celebrate ourselves.

Together, the Rainbow Wave committee combined our efforts and began fundraising.

It was a lot of work, but our spirits remained high the whole time and many local businesses were eager to support us.

While some posters were torn down and some words were said, we persisted in the hope of celebrating our community like never before.

The festival committee soon became a family. These driven individuals inspired and encouraged me. I learned so much from them and listened to their stories.

When the festival day arrived, so did the nerves. Would anyone come?

But one by one, people arrived, adorned in dazzling outfits.

When I saw everyone enjoying themselves, I couldn’t keep a smile off my face.

At one point during the night, a conga line formed, and in that moment I fully realised how strong our community was together.

It was magical and I felt so proud.

I know that the event was more than just a fun time, but a chance to break down perceptions about the community and confront the defences members within may have built up to hide their true selves.

It changed my perspective on what can be achieved in a small town.

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