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Resisting marginalisation in Regional Australia through LGBTQI+ events

conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-24, 21:21 authored by Oskaras Vorobjovas-PintaOskaras Vorobjovas-Pinta, Pearce, J, Anne HardyAnne Hardy

Festivals play a significant role in our social systems. Indeed, festivals and events have become catalysts in shaping the identity and branding of many destinations (Jago et al., 2003). In recent years in Australia, some regional areas have experienced unlikely success in niche events, which achieve wider local community involvement, a phenomenon that has not seen clear parallels in Australia's major cities (Vorobjovas-Pinta & Hardy, 2021). Such success has been observed in particular in regional LGBTQI + events such as Broken Heel Festival in Broken Hill (New South Wales), FABalice in Alice Springs (Northern Territory) and other similar events (Vorobjovas-Pinta & Lewis, 2021). Many such events are perceived as quirky, unusual, or incompatible with the traditional perceptions of a destination. They often challenge the heteronormative, mono-ethnical, and mono-industrial image/brand of a destination.

Marginalisation is often referred to as a "product of the cultural politics" that plays out differently in the context of locally-specific social relations (Hubbard, 1998, p. 56). LGBTQI+ voices remain largely marginalised (Verrelli, White, Harvey, & Pulciani, 2019). In regional Australia this is even more pronounced. The contemporary marginalisation of various individuals and community groups is not always an objective fact, but rather a power play bound by their placement on the margins of social imagination and paradoxical third space (Hubbard, 1998; Smith & Pitts, 2007). Marginalised individuals and community groups are often subject to covert and overt discrimination, bullying and animosity. As a consequence, members of LGBTQI+ communities often seek spaces that are inclusive, supportive and free of discrimination. In the tourism literature, such spaces are referred to as 'gay space' where members of the LGBTQI+ communities can address the social and emotional nature of their identity and relate to the identities of others (Vorobjovas-Pinta, 2018). Such spaces not only qualify as leisure spaces (Blichfeldt et al., 2013), but also as the catalysts for political advocacy and human rights movements (Caudwell, 2018; Ong & Goh, 2018).

This study employed the interpretive/constructivist paradigm within a qualitative framework. The nature of this working paper and presentation is exploratory; therefore, it required depth of information to comprehend emerging phenomena (Patton, 2002). The study focused on two regional Australian towns hosting LGBTQI+ events: Broken Hill (New South Wales) and Alice Springs (Northern Territory). In order to explore the significance of LGBTQI+ events for regional destinations and to capture the elements of the transformative power of events on communities, and events as destination brands and identities, semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders (local government, industry associations, event organisers, etc.) were conducted.

The originality and significance of this study lie in two key dimensions. Firstly, the study contributes towards a broader understanding of how regional LGBTQI+ events are transforming the traditional norms and perceptions of and about the community (e.g., heteronormativity, mono-ethnicity, and mono-industry), and, as such, how it becomes a brand and an identity of a particular destination. Secondly, events can create spaces that bring people together and provide an occasion to build resources and tribal networks (Ong & Goh, 2018; Vorobjovas-Pinta, 2018; Ziakas & Costa, 2010). It allows often marginalised people, albeit temporarily, to reclaim space through events.


Publication title

Proceedings of Critical Tourism Studies 9 within Dangerous Times




1 piece- abstract


School of Social Sciences


Critical Tourism Studies

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Critical Tourism Studies

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Mao, Menorca

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Socio-economic Objectives

Socio-cultural issues in tourism

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