Rainbow Community Angels
Earlier this year we saw confronting sights on the streets of Melbourne as anti-tans activists were supported by a squad of hooded neo-Nazis giving Nazi salutes.
Since this time, we have seen a rise of far-right extremism in Victoria.
The most recent targets of their threats have been LGBTIQ+ community events, including ‘drag Storytime’.
These targeted threats have forced Local Councils, in fear for the safety of staff and participants, to cancel pride events and drag story time activities across the State.
These events, designed to promote inclusivity, diversity, and acceptance, have become the subject of hateful attacks by those who seek to spread division and fear.
As a society, we must not allow this dark undercurrent to prevail.
This is why, I’m extremely proud to talk to you today about the work of the Rainbow Community Angels.
Rainbow Community Angels are a community group dedicating to protecting LGBTIQ+ children and youth events from being shut down by far-right extremists.
Community members receive training and are marshalled on the day of events to form a peaceful line of defence, dressed as angels, and spreading their rainbow-coloured wings.
Rainbow Community Angels were formed at the Pride Centre in St Kilda, in the heart of my electorate of Macnamara.
So far 60 community angels have been trained from all across Victoria to shield attendees at Rainbow Families and drag story time events.
Last Thursday a scheduled Pride Month Drag Story time was cancelled at St Kilda library, due to online abuse and threats made to Council staff.
In response the Rainbow Community angels held a pop-up drag Storytime.
The pop-up event went ahead without a hiccup.
Beautiful families, community members and Council staff gathered in solidarity, surrounded by 14 bright and cheerful Rainbow Community Angels.
Did the far-right extremists attend?
A small handful lurked around, took photos, or watched from afar as the drag queen know as “Frock Hudson” read a story and lead a rousing rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.
Prominent advocate and Co- Founder of Rainbow Community Angels Flis Marlow, shared with me how important this demonstration was, and I quote:
“When I was younger - 20 years ago - events for queer and trans youth were few and far between. Over the last decade we have seen a wonderful embracing of diversity and events that are open, free and accessible for all families to attend. Up until this year, drag story times were a celebrated part of the annual pride calendar for local councils. These very recent attacks, inspired by bigots abroad, threatens to see a return to a time when LGBTIQ+ family events are hard to find at best and at worst cancelled. These attempts to eradicate LGBTIQ+ people from community life must be opposed and the Rainbow Community angels are here to blow bubbles against hatred.”
As Flis has rightly pointed out, far-right extremists are copying what they see in the United States, where the Trump Republicans are whipping up homophobia and transphobia – not to mention anti-Semitism – to further their political agenda.
In the US this incitement to hatred has already led to events like the Colorado Springs nightclub shooting, where 5 people were killed.
As legislators we have a duty to ensure that nothing like that happens in Australia.
All levels of government should be working together with the LGBTQ+ community to ensure pride events go ahead.
Rainbow Community Angels - we are proud of you, and we stand with you.
20 June 2023