By Paul Hollingworth (Property Officer, Motafrenz and Foundation Member, DEFGLIS). 2021 pictures courtesy of DEFGLIS. 1982 picture by Jay Watchorn for City Rhythm, courtesy of AQuA.
ANZAC Day is an important day for all Australians and New Zealanders. A day to celebrate the bravery and courage demonstrated during wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations. Part of the ANZAC tradition is the laying of wreaths. The Rainbow Wreath acts as a commemorative and colourful tribute to remember LGBTIQ+ personnel who served our country, many in silence.
It was less than forty years ago when the then-president of the then-Returned Services League of Australia (Victoria) stopped members of the Gay Ex-Servicemen’s Association from laying a wreath to their fallen brothers. Thankfully, we no longer live in such a hateful world. This year, DEFGLIS (the support group for LGBTIQ+ defence members, veterans, and their families) extended an invitation to Motafrenz to be a part of this very special event.
Motafrenz members were to meet at 7:30 at the Legacy Garden of Appreciation before heading to the Eternal Flame to join DEFGLIS. Unfortunately, COVID restrictions at the Shrine of Remembrance meant that the garden was on the other side of a barrier and easy access to the Flame was not possible. For any Motafrenz that I left behind, I am truly sorry – it seemed that DEFGLIS faced a similar problem.
The contingent totalled a dozen – on the three previous Rainbow Wreath Ceremonies I have attended (all in Sydney) we achieved only between 3 and 5 – it seems we Melburnians love a good tradition. We were taken via the forecourt into the crypt and onto the Sanctuary. We were given exclusive access to the Sanctuary for the ceremony where three of our number laid the wreath against the Stone of Remembrance. It was a very moving moment, and much more dignified than the Sydney event when we are outside at Martin Place placing our wreath after everyone else has left. Here, at the Shrine, the Rainbow Wreath was the first to be laid.
After the ceremony, we got a little lost finding our brunch stop, but once there, we had some lovely chats and food – and the good people at St Ali’s even paid for our coffees. On the way back to the train, I was able to have a beer or two with my old shipmate from HMAS Ballarat (and fellow DEFGLIS foundation member) Peter “Suzie” Wong.
All in all, a very rewarding day that I hope becomes a recurring Motafrenz tradition.