Dubbo’s CBD was filled with a rainbow of colour on Saturday for the annual Central West Pride March.
Hundreds of people walked in the march while even more cheered from the sidelines as it went down Macquarie Street.
The march comes just days after Australia and the Parkes federal electorate voted ‘yes’ to allowing same-sex couples the right to marry. Australia-wide 61.6 per cent per cent of people said ‘yes’ to ‘should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?’ while in Parkes it was 52.7 per cent.
Speaking to the crowd, organiser Nic Steepe said it meant “everything” for the yes side to have won the vote.
“It’s been really hard but we did get here and I honestly couldn’t be prouder. I honestly believe each and every one of you here has helped that,” he said.
A cheer went up from the crowd when discussing the same-sex marriage survey result and Parkes’ support of equality.
However, Mr Steep said there were still things that needed to be fought for.
“Marriage equality is really important and we all know this, we’ve fought this battle and won and now it’s time to expend our energy on other things,” Mr Steepe said.
“There’s so much out there that still needs to change and still needs to happen, transgender rights and acceptance is one, LGBQI asylum seekers, refugees, the fact that all across the world people are being killed for being gay. We’re really lucky and we need to start raising awareness of these issues because no one deserves to be punished for who they are.”
Mr Steepe was emotional as he spoke about the work that still needed to be done towards gaining complete acceptance.
There was also discrimination within the LGBTQI community which needed to end, Mr Steepe said.
“We can’t ask and get equality under the law if we do not accept our own people,” he said
Mr Steepe cited a recent study which found 70 per cent of gay men were not attracted to ‘feminine males’. It should also be acceptable for anyone with nails to have their fingernails painted, he said.
“If you look at men in particular, they’re told they have to be masculine and they can’t open up and they can’t talk to anyone because that indicates they’re weak,” Mr Steepe said.
“Men are four times more likely to complete suicide than women because they don’t talk about their problems. We have a society where we tell men they’re weak if they don’t open up and that’s not okay.”
It’s the the third time the Central West Pride March has been held, and Mr Steepe said it was incredible to see so much pride in his hometown.
“I think a lot of people had a negative perception of the Central West that they might be backwards or they might be homophobic but I think [Saturday] and the last two pride marches proved that it’s definitely not,” Mr Steepe said.
“The reason why the pride march was created is because there’s such a focus on metropolitan areas, and that’s why people move and we lose so many good people from here to the cities.
“People have a right to love and be who they want regardless of their postcode.”
In the past people were moving away from Dubbo to find acceptance elsewhere, Mr Steepe said, but events like the pride march showed it could be found here.
While the 2017 Central West Pride March may be over, it would definitely be back again next year, the organiser said. The event will likely move back to October to coincide with Mental Health Month.