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Gathering Despite Adversity: A Creative Response to Fair Day's Unexpected Cancellation

lgbtqia+ queer Feb 16, 2024

There’s a reason that Sydney’s Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras is affectionately known as ‘Gay Christmas’. It’s the excitement of a cultural day of significance. The anticipation of something fun and colourful. And the opportunity to gather with other people in a point of sameness - versus being the one who is different all the time.

That’s why when Fair Day was cancelled this week, due to asbestos-infested mulch found in Victoria Park, the impact was real. 70,000 people not gathering. Talk about knowing how to make a grown queer cry. Even for someone like me who is becoming more and more introverted and like many of us, has to overcome social anxiety to be in groups, just knowing that LGBTQIA+ people were gathering, congregating and being celebrated spoke volumes for who we can be in public spaces.

Imagine all the thousands of people who are not getting the social and community support this year from community stall holders. Who are not getting the advice and advocacy they need. Picture all of the LGBTQIA+ sports teams who missed an important recruitment drive for the year. Let alone all the entertainers who have been preparing, making costumes and rehearsing to take to the stage. And there are the queer-owned (and ally) small businesses who have already bought stock or are scrambling to cancel thousands of dollars worth of orders. 

They say that everything we need is in community. We just have to ask for it. Our community is a rich resource waiting to be tapped into. It's made up of people from diverse backgrounds, each with their unique experiences, skills, and insights. By tapping into our collective wisdom, we can learn, grow, and achieve our goals more effectively. A study in the American Journal of Community Psychology found that collective wisdom plays a vital role in community resilience and empowerment.

So when life gives you lemons, it’s time to make lemonade - with a rainbow twist. It’s easy to stay isolated at home. As life goes on, we stop inviting people and we stop being invited. When was the last time you created an opportunity for people to gather? The most empowering way we can respond is to gather anyway. Conversations happen that weren’t going to happen anyway. New plans, projects and futures are born when we gather. All it takes is to name the place and time and then invite people. According to the American Psychological Association, resilience is a common response to adversity in the LGBTQIA+ community, contributing to our collective wisdom. So apparently we’re already really good at this.

Now it’s your turn. I invite you to start inviting!


Danica Lani

P.S. I’m inviting you to gather this Sunday 18 Feb, 11-2 pm in Camperdown Memorial Rest Park if you’re in Sydney. Let’s see what happens when queers gather anyway!

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