University Of Tasmania

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Feathers, bears, and bank logos: the changing constituencies of LGBTQI+ events in Australia

conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-24, 21:21 authored by Oskaras Vorobjovas-PintaOskaras Vorobjovas-Pinta, Fong-Emmerson, M

Australia hosts a number of world-renowned LGBTQI+ events such as Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, Midsumma Festival, Broken Heel Festival, and Tropical Fruits Festival. The ultimate aim of these events is to promote inclusivity and acceptance of LGBTQI+ communities, as well as to influence policies and advance human rights, such as the cause of marriage equality (Ammaturo, 2016; Lewis & Vorobjovas-Pinta, 2021; Vorobjovas-Pinta & Hardy, 2021). The 2017 Same Sex Marriage vote proved that Australia was ready for individuals of the same sex to marry and achieved a high-profile goal set out by many of Australia's LGBTQI+ festival and event organisers. As such, the role of LGBTQI+ festivals and events in regard to the societal change has shifted.

This study examines the shifting social image and meanings of LGBTQI+ pride festivals and events by focusing on two Australian LGBTQI+ hallmark events: Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras (SGLBG) and Melbourne Midsumma Festival (MMF). Specifically, this paper is structured around two overarching research questions:

  • How did the role of LGBTQI+ festivals and events in Australia change over the last decade?
  • What role do LGBTQI+ festivals and events play in contemporary Australia?

To address the specific research questions, this study adopted a thematic analysis as a method of qualitative data analysis. Specifically, this research has drawn on the information provided in the Annual Reports of two hallmark Australian LGBTQI+ events: SGLBG and MMF. The annual reports published between 2010 and 2019 (inclusive) were analysed. Annual report documents as sources of analysis were deemed appropriate for this study as they represent the direct and official communication by the event organisers (Donnelly & Wickham, 2020). Five overarching themes related to the function of LGBTQI+ events were identified: 1) Mainstreaming LGBTQI+ events as tourist attractions; 2) Supporting LGBTQI+ communities; 3) Encouraging the visibility and education of and about LGBTQI+ culture; 4) Challenging the political and social status quo; and 5) Addressing and enabling intersectionalities.

LGBTQI+ events continue to play a significant role in Australia. By showcasing LGBTQI+ culture, pride events not only empower those who are normally excluded, but they also enable wider acceptance in the society. Pride events provide LGBTQI+ communities a platform for their voices to be heard and to engage with the community and decision makers on political issues such as marriage equality, treatment of refugees, recognition of mental health issues and gender identity rights, thereby pushing further social change in Australia and globally.


Publication title

Proceedings of Critical Tourism Studies 9 within Dangerous Times


School of Social Sciences


Critical Tourism Studies

Place of publication


Event title

Critical Tourism Studies

Event Venue

Mao, Menorca

Date of Event (Start Date)


Date of Event (End Date)


Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Socio-cultural issues in tourism