A small town regional Australia just became the unlikely place for an amazing LGBTI Mardi Gras.
Hay is in the middle of the massive state of New South Wales (NSW) which was hosting another LGBTI event on the same weekend, the world-famous Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.
The town’s population is only about 2,000 people but hundreds turned up to its Mardi Gras over the weekend.
Knowing that not many people could make the big trip to Sydney, organizers planned a viewing party of Sydney’s parade.
But before they knew it plans spiralled out of control and Hay ended up hosting its own Mardi Gras. They named it The Rainbow on the Plains Festival.
‘Originally we envisioned a group of maybe 80 gathering to watch the 40th Sydney parade together because we couldn’t get to Sydney,’ organizer Krista Schade told Gay Star News.
‘It then became a fundraiser for Can Assist, but then grew into and event supporting the LGBTIQA community and a way to promote acceptance diversity as a human rights issue.’
Organizers put together a parade down the main street and a Saturday night party to follow. A Sunday breakfast had 150 turn up to celebrate.
The number of people who came out to show their support blew organizers away.
‘We had 370 at the party, 400 marched in the street parade… to say we are overwhelmed with the support shown is an understatement,’ Schade said.
‘Hay’s business houses have decorated shop windows and created special rainbow products or promotions. People lined the length of Lachlan Street and cheered loudly for Saturday’s parade.’
Check out this gagworthy performance
NSW LGBTI health organization, ACON, was a community partner of Hay Mardi Gras. Its Regional Outreach Development manager, Ted Cook, was there to help set up the Mardi Gras.
Along with partying at the Mardi Gras, ACON was there on some serious business.
‘We are here to strengthen and support local regional initiatives that are focussed on creating safe and inclusive environments for the communities we serve – people living with and at risk of HIV, and lesbian, gay, bi, trans & intersex (LGBTI) communities and people,’ Cook told Gay Star News.
‘Rainbow On The Plains shows that diversity is welcome in rural communities, and people from LGBTI communities do not have to hide or feel ashamed, that they have support.
‘Even in the last couple of days, we have started working with the local Hay rainbow community to develop a social and support group for LGBTI locals, their families and friends.’
Rainbow on the Plains Festival 2019 will run from March 29 to 31.