All across the the vineyards wine glasses chimed and smiles flashed as hundreds of members and supporters of the LGBTI community celebrated the inaugural Pokolbin Pride.
Pokolbin Pride founder Jimmy Wright said the celebration of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual and intersexuality was not about claiming a space distinct from the non-LGBTI world, nor was it a defiant “march down the main street waving the feather boa”.
Rather it was about promoting acceptance in all spaces, for all people.
“We didn’t want to create a place solely for the LGBTI community,” he said.
“But the weekend has given the community an opportunity to be themselves – on their own patch.”
And that was borne out through picnics, markets, parties and art shows across the region, all of which flew the rainbow flag high.
Mr Wright said people came from Sydney and Newcastle, but also from the local area, to show their pride and support for the event. He said it was a diverse crowd, a positive sign.
“Just a little while ago we had a family sitting at this table, grand parents and children and grandchildren,” Mr Wright said.
“And sitting at the table next to them we had two gentlemen, a couple in their 50s, with their transvestite friend.
“And I thought that’s right, that’s beautiful.”
Mr Wright said he was particularly pleased Pokolbin Pride was able to establish a safe and accepting atmosphere for LGBTI persons who live in regional and rural Australia.
“For local (LGBTI) people there’s one pub in Newcastle. And while it’s fun to go once a month, it doesn’t really reflect the community in rural Australia,” he said.
“All the gay and lesbian people don’t just live in the city – plenty don’t like the city.
“I heard about a farmer from the Hunter who said … he just likes wearing women’s clothing.
So he put on his spray tan and his denim skirt and came down. He was loving it.”
And while rain blanketed the region on Saturday, partially dampening numbers, Mr Wright said early estimates between 500 and 600 people visited the region just for the festival.
He said Pokolbin Pride would return again next year and dates would be announced imminently.
The festival’s next run would likely go from Friday to Sunday. Follow at facebook.com/pokolbinpride for updates
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