It was announced last week that the annual Pokolbin pride fair and festival, has been cancelled. This obviously comes as a pretty significant blow to the LGBTQUIA+ community in the Hunter, but unfortunately, it’s not the first to feel the wrath. I’ve always seen Newcastle as a pretty inclusive community. A place where you can be the person you’ve always hoped and dreamed to be, and live your life according to the way you and you alone would like to live it. I’ve always believed in the power of Novocastrians and I’ve made a home here for over 20 years.
But, with all the changes happening in the city, I am sincerely hoping we don’t lose this community aspect or our individuality and we don’t lose sight of supporting groups and people who need it most. But it’s like there is this shift in the air, which is why unfortunately I wasn’t surprised when I heard the news about Pokolbin Pride.
The cancellation of the festival isn’t the first blow the community faced. For me, being a member of the queer community and all, it happened with the “gentrification” and takeover of the Gateway which is now known as the Newy Hotel. The new owners could have taken a stand and shown an understanding of the importance of the Gateway to the queer community but instead, they forgot it was 2018 and backflipped on the whole thing saying that apparently, Newcastle doesn’t need an exclusive LGBTQUIA+ venue. Lololol shutup. Honestly, I’m still personally reeling from that particular statement but hey, this isn’t about me at the end of the day.
Another example is what was previously known as the Central Bar, who were hosting Newcastle’s favourite drag night. An event that was attended by the masses and surely would have brought with it an abundance of business and revenue. Although thankfully, the drag show has now found a new home at 48 Watt Street, a place where queer folk like me can (ironically) live in sin till our heart’s content.
Heaps Gay is also a pretty prominent touring event, which once called the Gateway home. The event has thankfully found a new home at the Lass.
I just hope that this isn’t a reflection of the way the region is heading. Newcastle should be proud of our eclectic, left of field, artistic and queer communities. This town isn’t just built on steel and coal, we are so much more than that and I really hope that doesn’t disappear entirely once we lose sight of the cranes and the stop-go signs. Just a thought hey.