Launched in 1999, Canberra SpringOUT Pride Festival began with, literally, two volunteers, and now has an enthusiastic team of five committee members, who spend about ten months of each year planning. This team has brought a renewed sense of optimism and celebration to the festival. From 1999 to today, it’s become a more mature festival and this year the festival is bigger and better than ever before. There’s a real sense of excitement within the community.
Our Chief Minister Andrew Barr met his partner Anthony at the very first Canberra SpringOut Gay and Lesbian Festival just a few minutes before midnight on 13 November 1999. Anthony was visiting Canberra for the first time.
2016 Matt Knobel was re-elected unopposed at the AGM in January 2016 as Chair of the Association and welcomed in the festival for 2016 with the following statement: After months of planning, the Canberra SpringOUT Pride Festival announced ‘Electric’ as the 2016 festival theme. Creating buzz, electrifying the senses, shocking the system.
The festival will be held from October 29 – November 20. A proud achievement in this year’s calendar is to once again showcase a diversity of events to appeal to all members across the LGBTQ acronym. Flagship events like the AIDS Action Council’s Fair Day and the Gay and Lesbian Tennis Association’s Bushdance will once again be popular, as will the smaller events such as Front Runners and the Pet Parade.
It is the diversity of events that showcase the scope of what Canberra’s LGBTIQ+ community is all about.
This year will also mark our first Festival Parade that will culminate in a Family Day in Glebe Park. Exciting indeed.
Also, our first official Pride Awards night will take place after the festival. These awards will not only serve as a huge thank you to our supporters but will also acknowledge individuals and businesses in the community who have contributed to the festival, and the community throughout the past year.
Some other events for the 2016 include: - Women’s Dance – Fruit Tingles - BAKE - Big Gay Champagne Breakfast - Multiple events at 16 West - official festival venue sponsor, and - Film night - NFSA
The Canberra SpringOUT Association Inc. looks forward to delivering a unique festival for the local community, with events that promote Canberra and which attract interstate visitors. Our aim is to bring the Canberra SpringOUT Pride Festival to the fore. With your support we will make that happen.
Thankyou for supporting the Canberra SpringOUT Pride Festival in 2016.
Our First Festival
Canberra's first Gay and Lesbian Pride Festival - Spring Out - included a rally and march on November 13 1999 attended by 300 people. (last year it is estimated that a total of 2,700 people attended the month long festival)
The rally was addressed by, among others, Chief Minister Kate Carnell, Pat Brant from Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (P-FLAG), Tasmanian gay rights activist Rodney Croome, Kelly Jones, the editor of the ACT gay and lesbian journal Quirk, and Susan Carcary from the rank-and-file Members First ticket in Community and Public Sector Union elections.
Some of the loudest applause at the rally was given to the P-FLAG contingent. Brant told the rally, "The kids we loved yesterday are no different today just because they have come out as being gay or lesbian".
Brant later said "there is still a lot of discrimination happening, not only in colleges, but also in high schools". P-FLAG plays an important role in "educating parents, teachers and service providers".
The rally marched with rainbow flags to Glebe Park for the Fairday Frolic. Spring Out, which included concerts, bush dances, a Love Bus tour, film showings and a cocktail party, and ended on November 21
History of Fair Day
Fairday has been held annually since the first Canberra SpringOut Pride Festival in 1999. Since 2001, Fairday has been proudly hosted by the AIDS Action Council at Westlund House and continues to be one of Canberra’s major grassroots community events.
Fairday has been the site of important community research including the Snapshot Lesbian and Bisexual Women’s Survey and the Canberra Gay Community Periodic Survey.
Since 2008, Fairday has been held on the first weekend of the Canberra SpringOUT Pride Festival, becoming a launch event for the festival as well as a significant event in its own right
Wind the clocks forward to 2014:
It may not have reached the status of Mardi Gras but, when it comes to passion, the organisers of Canberra SpringOUT Pride Festival, Canberra's only Queer cultural festival, take pride in saying we have more than our Sydney counterparts.
For the first time the annual festival in its 15th year, spanned the entire month of November beginning on Saturday with the "much-loved" fair day hosted by the AIDS Action Council at Westlund House, Acton.
The fair lead a packed calendar of events including the annual bush dance, a bake off, "big gay" champagne breakfast, women's dance and concert from Canberra's LGBTIQ choir affectionately known as "Qwire"..
For those looking for more cultural pursuits the festival included a screening of Pride as part of the British Film Festival, a production of Scandalous Boy at the Street Theatre and La Cage Aux Folles at the ANU Arts Centre.
And while Canberra's only Queer cultural festival 'might not have a street parade to rival Mardi Gras, the fair day featured a pet parade which people took seriously, according to committee member Mat Knobel.
Fellow committee member Leanne Staggard said the festival was uniquely Canberran.
"When people think of Mardi Gras they think of the parade and we don't have that but we're not trying to be Mardi Gras," she said. "The festival really brings people out of the woodwork it encourages them to get out and come together."
Another first for the 2014 festival was a range of events embracing Canberra's gender diverse community including short films exploring the infinite possibilities of gender and the A Gender Agenda (AGA) fete day and trivia night.
Other new events targeted young people in the community including a disco, roller derby, dance party and pop-up events.
"This year we've tried to include more events for kids and youth and the gender diverse," Ms Staggard said. "It's about us branching out and involving the wider community to join the events as much as it is about celebrating our community."
Previously the festival ran for a fortnight, but Mr Knobel said organisers felt there was room for it to grow after positive feedback from previous years.
He said far from any backlash the organisers had noticed even more support with major sponsors Telstra, Her Canberra, The Street Theatre, Typeyard Design and Advertising and Fuse Magazine.
"It's the biggest one in our history… and it's definitely something that's growing," Mr Knobel said.
AIDS Action Council executive director Philippa Moss said 30 volunteers were helping out for fair day and about 50 stalls were pread out on the lawn outside Westlund Hall.
The current Chair of Canberra SpringOUT Association Inc., Mat Knobel talks more about what Springout is and what 2015 will be like:
Why is an event like this significant for the Queer community of Canberra?
Canberra SpringOUT Pride Festival (note the new emphasis on the spelling) brings in to focus the Queer culture of Canberra. It is a festival for everyone. It will showcase more than 35 events and reveal as many facets of queer culture as possible. It not only celebrates Canberra’s GLBTIQ community, it informs, educates and inspires. It’s one of those festivals where people reunite; bringing them out of the suburbs and bringing them together at social events rather than the local token gay bar. It holds a special place in the hearts of the community and its significance in that respect is major.
The thing that’s unique about the Canberra SpringOUT Pride Festival is the community aspect. In larger cities, you don’t get that sense of ownership at a festival, you’ll always be a guest, whereas in Canberra you get a sense of ownership of this project. Canberra SpringOUT Pride Festival connects with Canberrans.
What are your highlights for Canberra SpringOUT Pride Festival?
Signature events such as Fairday on 31 October, Bushdance on 14 November and the Qwire's performance with an orchestra on 21 November, this 4 week festival is crammed with events for people of all ages. Highlights will be announced shortly but there are some major public profile people who will be attending and speaking at some incredibly amazing new events.
How did you get involved in the Canberra SpringOUT Pride Festival?
I was passionate and eager to be more involved in the community and through my business, Typeyard Design & Advertising (sorry, I just had to plug it), offered the SpringOUT guys the prospect of rebranding and designing materials for the promotion of the festival. From there, I was invited to be on the board of Canberra Pride (responsible for the managing and developing of the Canberra SpringOUT Pride Festival and the rest, as they say, is history! I’m pleased and proud to be involved in the development of what I call ‘an organic beast’ – each year the festival changes, continues to grow and becomes its own creation. It’s very exciting and I have an amazing talented group of people on the committee who dedicate so much of their free time !
What is the Queer community like in Canberra?
Our community is very diverse. Not only that, but proud. There’s a renewed optimism in the Canberra community, especially since the passing of the Marriage Equality Same-Sex bill in the ACT Legislative Assembly in 2014. I would also say that it’s a very close-knit community that always shows support and kindness.
Canberra has its own gay bar, a local gay mag and several other LGBTIQ-owned businesses and social networks. It’s a very friendly gay scene.
Any tips for people coming along to the events?
Book, book, book! LOL…We encourage people to book for the events and don't wait until the last minute. Most of the events will be limited in numbers and I would hate to think that someone missed out by leaving it until the last moment.
Fairday will be totally different this year in a new vibrant and exciting venue,.
What is new with the SpringOUT Association this year
Besides having new faces on the Committee, for the very first time we are opening up our Assoication to membership. We believe that Canberrans should have a say in their festival and as a member attending the AGM, there will be an opportunity to do just that.
In addition, we are also having our first media launch before the festival kicks off which we are really looking forward to. This will be followed by an official festival launch, which needs to be limited in numbers and our members will be the first to have an opportunity to purchase a ticket to this catered event with an amazing after party.
We are so proud of this year’s festival. We think the diverse range of events will cater for many groups in Canberra’s LGBTIQ community. We encourage everyone to come along to as many events as they can and see what Canberra’s Queer culture is all about and make some new friends along the way.