PEOPLE marched to the beat of their own drum on Thursday, in support of the Echuca-Moama LGBTI community.
About 50 people marched over the Echuca-Moama bridge into Moama’s Kerrabee Soundshell where a rainbow flag was raised.
Organised by Crossenvale Community House and funded by a Campaspe Shire grant, the event recognised International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia on Friday.
House co-ordinator Sheridan Clark said it was important to hold an event like this considering 75 per cent of LGBTI youth experienced some form of discrimination; 61 per cent experienced verbal abuse; 19 per cent experienced physical bulling and 24 per cent of lesbian, gay, bisexual people and 37 per cent of trans Australians experienced depression.
‘‘These stats are scary and to provide a platform for our community to stand together and raise awareness of violence, discrimination, and repression of LGBTI communities in Echuca and Moama and Australia, we want to provide our community the opportunity to take action and engage in changes in our own lives, workplace, local services, and the wider community,’’ she said.
‘‘By doing this we are breaking down stigma, judgement and calling out discrimination if you hear it. This event is our way of stepping forward, celebrating, coming together and building connections.’’
Baroona Youth Healing Centre manager Keith Hearn said the event was about raising awareness and acceptance of the diversity shared as a community.
‘‘I could tell many stories of friends, relatives and partners who felt the impact of not feeling acknowledged, respected, accepted or understood for the person they love who does not conform to an ideology of what is deemed right,’’ he said.
‘‘We love who we love and we share what we share and this cannot be changed to meet the expectations of others. Growing up lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex is no different than growing up heterosexual. It is normal and how it is. It is not a choice and cannot be beaten, cancelled and forced from us.
‘‘I feel it is the fear, ignorance and lack of understanding that continues to divide families, friends and communities and I hope one day we can all just get along in a world full of acceptance.
‘‘We as an Aboriginal community understand what it feels like to be treated differently all because the colour of our skin, just as LGBTI brothers and sisters are treated unfairly and unjust because of their preference, who they love or how they dress.’’
Ms Clark said since forming an LGBTI support group, it had organised two events and one campaign.
‘‘We have already set goals for next year and working on finding more funding for 2020 to provide training to services and building on more annual events,’’ she said.
More photos in Friday’s Riv