Friday, 13 November 2009

Australian travelloque: Perth pride parade

The problem with visiting Australia (and many other countries) is that the shops and businesses close so early. When we arrived in Perth, it was almost five o'clock and by the time we had passed through Immigration, collected the car and drove to the hotel, it was after six o'clock. Shops were already closed and to make matters worse, it was getting dark mighty quickly.

After checking into the hotel, we thought it best to have our dinner in the hotel's restaurant. We wanted to retire early for the night as we had planned to have a long day ahead of us and needed to set off early. But halfway through dinner, my wife agreed to my wacky idea of taking a drive into the city just for the fun of it.

So off we went in the direction of the Central Business District at about 8.30pm and as expected, the buildings were mostly in darkness. Our first thought was, oh boy, there's really no life in the CBD at night. No shopping malls to visit at night. But then oddly enough, there were road diversions and we found ourselves driving up and down unknown streets. Then, in the distance, I saw a parade just about to start off. Let's park and see what's it's all about, I told her.

Great, I thought, people were all dressed up. There was even a guy dressed up as the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz (where else?). Considering that it was 31 Oct, we guessed it was a Halloween parade that we had stumbled upon.

So we walked along the road, gawking at the people around us. But soon enough, it dawned on us that we were watching not a Halloween parade but the Perth Pride Parade. Mana eh chai, we were suddenly in the midst of Perth's annual parade of gays and lesbians, now in its 20th year.

Did I say Great earlier? Let me say it again: GREAT! What a great opener to our holidays! I've always wanted to watch one and here I am, in the midst of one. Wahlau, eh!

The only problem was, the night was unbearably cold for the two of us. So we had to give up watching more of the parade and drive back to the hotel. Now, at that temperature - it must have been around 16 to 18 Celsius - how on earth can these people endure wearing next to nothing??

Oh yes, this was the highlight of the night. To me, anyway. A man dressed in drag. Maybe a participant for the Best Drag contest. I hope he did win the first prize of A$500.

But maybe I should also add that the pride parade was not only about gay groups. There were other organisations such as PAWS, a group of volunteer foster carers who help lost or abandoned animals. There were also the parents of gays who came out openly to support their children. For example, this man holding a poster. You can't read everything that's written there but it said "closets are for clothes not people." How true...

Next: Serpentine, Western Australia
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