In 2006 Cairns Tropical Pride was born. Now, 12 years later  – While holding the mantle for one of the longest continually running pride festivals in  Australia – it’s the end of an era.

 After a vote held at their annual general meeting earlier this month, the Cairns Tropical Pride Festival Committee and its members have voted to close the association down when they were unable to elect a new committee of volunteers.

In a statement by Cairns Tropical Pride President Kevin Scott “There appeared to be a consensus that the community is no longer engaged with Pride at this time”.  Members were asked to vote to either A) Elect a new committee or B) Close the association down. It was an almost unanimous vote to close amongst the members.

There’s been many memorable moments across the years of Pride, and everyone in the community will have their own favourites but we can’t forget the first pool party at the Reef Hotel Casino when Samantha Jade wowed the crowd – that set the bar. Who can forget the fabulous Fair Days at the Tanks, we either sweated our weaves off in the blazing sun or looked like drenched rats in the pouring rain, but we didn’t care – we all troddled along to the now-famous dog show and we all ate not so hot food from the food vans outside…. We didn’t care because we were one community. Pride Day really was an event for everyone.

Many members of the community have been shocked and confused by the revelation that there is not going to be a Pride Festival in 2019. But in the end, it all came down to the lack of support for pride fundraising events, and the lack of willing volunteers.
“We are ineligible for funding from Tourism Queensland this year because we’ve had grants from that source for 3 years – the maximum number of consecutive years allowed. Currently we have $36 in the bank with approximately $450 outstanding of which we are likely to receive approximately $250.” said Kevin Scott, President.

“It breaks my heart to hear this, however, I do understand that without community members stepping up to volunteer to maintain CTP then it is better to pay our debts and cease operations. The cessation of an operation such as this has multiple factors and I know it is inappropriate to try to assert blame.”  said long-standing committee member and pillar of the community, Vyvyen Wong.

“Most of us who have participated in the planning and running have done it with no commercial interest or self-serving gains. We have put ourselves out with countless unpaid hours (including time away from our loved ones) to ensure that we have an event(s) to celebrate who we are and to show our visibility” she stated.

FNQ Magazine’s editor Jay Horne says ‘natural progression’ also had a part to play in the demise of the festival …   “As the world grows smaller, many of the younger generation in our community don’t see the value of Pride in a small city like Cairns.
I mean they can get $89 airfares to Sydney for Mardi Gras – or $79 fares to Brisbane for Big Gay Day – that gives them their pride ‘fix’ for the year. They are seeing the benefits of the struggle since the first Mardi Gras in 1978 without even realising or understanding the history or importance of Pride in rural communities. “Even I’m guilty of flying out to pride festivals across the world and there is always the inevitable comparison when you come home to our Pride Festivals – The comparison is unfair with somewhere like San Diego where they have a larger community a bigger budget and more supportive local businesses .” he said

Festival Director Destiny Rogers lamented the passing of the festival. After steering Pride to be one of the most successful festivals ever in 2017 it was always going to be a hard act to follow in 2018. But the shorter festival period and the lack of community support for individual events left all the hard work of the committee members and volunteers with nothing to show for it even with super star guests Karen from Finance and Matthew Mitcham.

Destiny, who is now editor of Q News in Brisbane, says; “There are plenty of amazing people in the Cairns community who can achieve plenty of amazing things – there were before I was ever there, while I was there, since I left and there’ll be plenty more. There are always new people coming up with fresh ideas and reinvigorating the community.”

Hear, hear Destiny. Let’s see what the community can do and what will rise out of the ashes of Cairns Tropical Pride.

Check out the latest edition of FNQ Magazine for more.

Story released in FNQ Magazine on 7.2.2019

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