Well, what a month it’s been! Safe to say that I am tired but extremely proud of the fantastic effort from everyone involved in the 2023 Midsumma Festival. As a board member of the Midsumma, I would personally like to say thank you to my fellow board members, but more importantly the wonderful LGBTQIA+ performers, artists, community, and volunteers.  I would also like to thank the audiences that supported and attended all the fabulous events.  This year saw the return of the Midsumma Extravaganza at the wonderful Myer Music Bowl, marking the eve of the Midsumma Festival, the Midsumma Carnival at the Alexandrea Gardens, and the Midsummer Pride March.

This year there were over 200 events across 120 venues in Victoria.  Being a westie, both geographically and at heart, I attend a number of events held in Footscray, Altona, Newport, and St Albans.

While the events were fantastic I think it necessary to remember that events like Midsumma allow people to celebrate who they are and be who they want to be. Midsumma should be and, is a safe space for everyone.  The festival seeks to be an inclusive and educational space, providing a platform for artistic expression and cultural conversations. But behind the glamor there is also an  important message about festivals and events like Midsumma.

The Australian Human Rights Commission reports that Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender people are 3 times more likely to experience depression, 6 in 10 experience verbal homophobic abuse, 2 in 10 experience physical homophobic related violence and 1 in 10 experience other types of homophobia or transphobia. LGBTQIA+ people in Australia still experience discrimination, harassment and hostility in parts of everyday life, including school, work, and seeking health and other services.

Yes, there been enormous progress globally and locally but it’s important to remember that for some people the fight to be seen, included and participate as valued and equal members of society continue. It is up to all of us to play a part in calling out homophobia and transphobia even after the glitter, streamers, and pride flags have been packed away.

Maria Dimopoulos AM is the Managing Director and Principal Consultant at Myriad Kofkin Global.  She is a Board Member of Midsumma, Chair of Safe and Equal and has over 30 years’ of experience in human rights and social justice issues.

Maria is available for speaking engagements, consultancy, and strategic advice.  Myriad Kofkin Global | Melbourne and Sydney