Pride mile­stone cel­e­brated

Hamilton News - - NEWS - Cait­lan John­ston Win­tec jour­nal­ism stu­dent

Hamil­ton Pride Week Fes­ti­val is in full mo­tion through­out the city with hun­dreds of peo­ple com­ing to­gether to cel­e­brate the di­verse LGBTQIA and queer com­mu­ni­ties in the Hamil­ton and Waikato area.

The good thing is the week isn’t over yet and the party is def­i­nitely still go­ing.

Hamil­ton Pride In­cor­po­rated, the group re­spon­si­ble for co­or­di­nat­ing the fes­ti­val, is cel­e­brat­ing its 10th an­niver­sary and the theme of the week has been ‘10 years on, Find­ing our His­tory’.

Fes­tiv­i­ties kicked off with a Pride Pre­view in Gar­den Place and an open­ing birth­day party last Satur­day that marked the be­gin­ning of week-long events and ac­tiv­i­ties.

Hamil­ton Pride Week chair­per­son Rhi­an­non Bond says she is re­ally proud that the group has thrived for 10 years.

“We’re a rel­a­tively small com­mu­nity group so for us to make it to 10 years is very spe­cial, and a tes­ta­ment to the hard work peo­ple have put in over the years,” said Bond.

The group was started in 2008 by Ge­off Rua’ine who called a hui to ad­dress the prob­lem of in­creas­ing trans­mis­sion rates of HIV in Hamil­ton, which was ap­proach­ing cri­sis point at the time.

It was de­cided a ma­jor bar­rier to ad­dress­ing the prob­lem was the lack of vis­i­bil­ity of the LGBTQIA com­mu­nity. From this hui, the idea for a fes­ti­val and Hamil­ton Pride In­cor­po­rated was born.

While the group was started be­cause of grow­ing concerns around HIV trans­mis­sion, the fo­cus has grown sig­nif­i­cantly. To­day the Hamil­ton Pride com­mu­nity is all about bring­ing peo­ple to­gether to bring to light the con­ver­sa­tions and is­sues that mat­ter.

“When you’re a part of a marginalised group it can be dif­fi­cult to meet peo­ple with sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ences and have dis­cus­sions,” said Bond.

“This group is about peo­ple be­ing out and proud and also talk­ing about those is­sues that mat­ter to us and we are still strug­gling with.”

The big­gest event of the week is hap­pen­ing tonight which sees the group bring­ing back a favourite drag com­pe­ti­tion.

For the first time in years the group will again be host­ing its very own ver­sion of the old Mr Gay and Miss Foun­tain City Waikato pageant.

Mov­ing with the times though, the pageant is now a gen­der neu­tral com­pe­ti­tion and is ti­tled as the Mx Foun­tain City pageant which will cater to all gen­der iden­ti­ties.

“The pageant is a way that we can em­brace our past but we’ve also de­cided to mod­ernise it as we are mov­ing into a pe­riod where the LGBTQIA com­mu­nity is recog­nis­ing both gen­der and sex­u­al­ity are on a spec­trum,” said Bond.

The fes­ti­val con­tin­ues right through­out the weekend and ac­tiv­i­ties and events in­clude a sym­po­sium on gen­der and sex­u­al­ity di­ver­sity, a lip sync com­pe­ti­tion, a mas­quer­ade youth ball, a pic­nic in the park and it all fin­ishes up with Pink Drinks at the Cook St So­cial on Sun­day night.

Photo / Sup­plied

Saman­tha set the mood for the week at the Pride Pre­view last weekend.

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