Words by Jeff Whitehead, Gordon Campbell; Pictures: Jeff Whitehead, Paul Hollingworth, and Ross Junor
The pride march for 2023 was once again both bigger, more colourful, more spectacular, and much longer than ever before. Over 16,000 participants, the Midsumma organisers told us at the briefing prior to the march. Our contingent had vehicles representing every colour of the rainbow plus the added colours specifically for Daniel Quasar’s Progress Pride flag.
This actually made coordination of who could and could not be in the march, based on what member and their vehicles were available, and as such, some drivers and cars were outsiders, and some drivers and cars were in it again from the previous years. Next year we will go back to focusing on those members who specifically want to be in the Pride March driving, with a preference for those that have not had the privilege of driving their pride and joy in the march.
Organising our contingent is no mean feat, as anyone who’s been a driver will know, with the barrage of important emails and requirements over the months preceding the march. Unlike ChillOut in Daylesford, where we’re similarly in a parade and park display, we basically just have to rock up without all this compliance there, but it is what it is, as Midsumma certainly makes sure we’re as safe as can be. In fact, I did find Midsumma themselves did a much better job managing the march. They were more relaxed this year and no doubt that helped us too.
I for one ended up driving the indigenous opening vehicle with Aunty Carolyn Briggs again, only because we were compromised by this flag colours arrangement. I believe this honour and privilege should always go to a member who’s never done it before and has an open-top car.
Nonetheless, it was awesome fun and as I said to Aunty Caroyln as we stared down Fitzroy Street from the top to the bottom with absolutely nothing in front of us, “I love taking you for a Sunday drive down Fitzroy Street when it’s like this so let’s take our time”. And time we did take at a very casual walking pace, while we soaked up every moment of it. A special short stop at the Pride centre for a few seconds was imperative, then off and away again to the gardens we slowly went.
Arriving at the back of the gardens off Pier Rd, the gates had been left unlocked which made life easy. I rang and texted the number I was given but no response, however, I did find the Melbourne Motorcycle Tourers had set up the marquee we were sharing, so I was able to get one of them to help guide me safely in and help work out how we were displaying all our vehicles around their display of motorcycles. As it turned out, it was the best exposure we could have imagined, and the idea of sharing the marquee with them worked out perfectly.
As our convoy of cars arrived at the gardens, we were able to park them up along a path one by one on either side of the Melbourne Motorcycle Tourers, and everyone had a great day with the ongoing celebrations in the Gardens. Jeff Whitehead.
Marching (not driving) in Pride March 2023
I was a marcher, not a driver, in Pride March this year and I found it a thoroughly enjoyable experience. To start the day, instead of taking public transport to St Kilda I drove into Lakeside Drive because my experience has been that if you arrive on Pride March day before 9 AM you can find a free parking spot. That’s what I did again this year. Having parked I walked over to the Oval where the organisers of the Pride March marshal all the marchers according to the community group to which they belong. The marshalling points are all clearly marked, and I soon found our Motafrenz spot. After a while, other Motafrenz members arrived, and we had an enjoyable time admiring the exotic costumes of other marchers and of course the athletic bodies of the many sporting group members. We also had the opportunity to walk over to the car-marshalling area to collect our excellent new Motafrenz banner and to socialise with the drivers as they marshalled their cars. Marshalling cars was an important job because the drivers had to put their cars in colour sequence to create their magnificent “Motafrenz Rainbow of cars”, yes, we had every* colour of the Queer Community Rainbow. (*Pretty close to it anyway.)
In due course, the time came, and the organisers moved the groups of marchers (who were already marshalled in their marching sequence) up to the starting point at the corner of Lakeside Drive and Fitzroy Street. The March started in the traditional way, with the first group being Dykes on Bikes followed by Motor Cycle Tourers. We Motafrenz marchers were directed up to the starting point. The organisers had done their usual excellent job of making sure that we met our Rainbow of Cars at the starting point. Then we marchers set off carrying our Motafrenz banner followed by the cars. We marched down Fitzroy Street. We had a big crowd of spectators who appreciated our marching and of course our cars. It was quite a long walk, and then suddenly we were at the end – it was over! We crossed Beaconsfield Parade into Catani Gardens and moved to our display area. There we assisted in the set-up of our joint display with Motor Cycle Tourers. We were able to put our Motafrenz marquee cover over the marquee supplied by the organisers. This gave us great visibility to everybody who came to the party at the Gardens.
So, in conclusion, it was a thoroughly enjoyable day for me, and I think for all the marchers and drivers. I congratulate both the Pride March organisers and the organisers of the Motafrenz participation in Pride March. I am sure we gained great visibility because of our efforts. I give special thanks to Nigel and Jeff for their organising and all those who marched or brought their cars to the March. I’m sure we’ll all do it again in 2024,
Best regards from Gordon.