Our first rally was held on Saturday. Despite a number of hurdles and all of us involved having no experience in organising public events we still managed to get there on time, with a sound system (though cameras it seems got forgotten, drat) right in the public heart of the city.
The turnout was small. There were of course some we know intended to attend but who couldn’t get away from work or family commitments etc and of course the whole cities population is smaller when University is out but more than anything the low turnout both of people we know from the GLBTI population and from those we know who are supportive of the aims of the rally suggests how intimidated people are by the climate of Homophobia, Transphobia and Intersexphobia that is allowed to flourish when it goes unoppossed in the community.
But there were still some ready to let the people of Armidale see that they object to the great cost to the community and the great damage done to peoples lives by homophobic violence, school bullying and the impact on youth suicide and other social problems.
And from our good position the words those of us on stage spoke reached many passers by and patrons of nearby stores and the courthouse cafe.
And we even were assisted in the point Kaleb was making about the harassment our community faces for actual or perceived sexuality and/or gender identity when one passer by shouted out “then go away you Poofta”. A perfect illustration of the problem we were talking about.
The rally had one journalist from the local paper the Independant covering it so it will be interesting to see how they cover it.
In making the first step of raising local public awareness of this heavily silenced, heavily oppressed part of the community and the injustice we face the rally was a success. And from it we can and will build further.
Thanks to everyone involved in organising, speaking at and supporting the rally and particularly those brave enough to attend.