A group of LGBTI people in a northern Australian city are using unconventional means – specifically sailing on a beer can rainbow raft – to raise the visibility of the community.
The fierce group of six women – plus a support team of many more people – took to the high seas this year to compete in the annual ‘Beer Can Regatta’ (BCR) in Darwin.
The BCR is a highlight of tropical Darwin’s calendar every year, where as the name gives away, people construct their own rafts made out of aluminium cans. Since 1974, the competition has helped raise awareness about the importance of recycling but is also an important community event.
Thousands of people line Mindil Beach to watch the competitors tough it out in a range of competitions including, the Battle of Mindil. The battle is a boat race where anything goes; flour bombs, water sprays and more. The boats sail around the course and have to find an object that has been hidden under water somewhere in the course.
One of the most popular teams every year is the LGBTI group.
This year named the Rainbow Raft, the LGBTI group has been competing in the BCR since 2015.
‘We built our raft from scratch, there’s 1500 cans in this year’s raft,’ Sam Crameri, one of the organizers of this year’s Rainbow Raft told Gay Star News.
A few years ago a woman called Shae had an idea to enter the BCR to show the men how it’s done.
‘It was mostly all men who make floats, and we thought we can give it a crack too,’ Crameri said.
‘We wanted to make a bit of visibility for the LGBTI community and have a bit of presence.’
‘It’s unique event and I don’t think there’s something like this in the world.’
The city of Darwin lies in the very north of Australia and is often stereotyped as a rough, frontier land.
While most people know about Darwin’s huge crocodile population, what many people don’t realise is that it also has a thriving LGBTI scene.
‘There’s plenty of gays in the village,’ Crameri said about Darwin.
But what’s great about the Rainbow Raft in the BCR is that it gets people talking. The LGBTI team always gets a lot of media attention, but it’s also a way for people to come up to the team to ask them more about the community.
‘People see the rainbows and come and chat to us,’ Crameri said.
‘We had a lot of kids come up to say this year and ask about the rainbows and we would tell them all about it.
‘It’s fantastic for kids these days people are more open, I wish it had been like that when I was younger. So it’s great to talk to them about that.’
Did the girls win big on the day?
After a cracking 2017 competition where the girls won many challenges including the big Battle of Mindil, they walked away with a little less this year.
But they did manage to win the Tug of War going against some stiff competition in the SES (State Emergency Services) team.
‘We’re quite proud of it, we didn’t win big but we had a big presence on the day and had a lot of interaction with the crowd this year,’ Crameri said.