11 September 2019

Where will the rainbow flag appear next in South East NSW?

| Ian Campbell
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The rainbow flag flying high at Cobargo Post Office this week before 'the bosses' stepped in. Photo: ABC South East Facebook

The rainbow flag flying high at Cobargo Post Office this week before ‘the bosses’ stepped in. Photo: ABC South East Facebook

A rainbow flag flying high above Cobargo Post Office this week seems to be part of a growing trend, with friends of About Regional also keen to raise the colours of gay pride in a show of support.

The rainbow flag has been a symbol of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender pride and advocacy since the late 70’s.

San Francisco artist and activist Gilbert Baker is said to be responsible for the original design, which made its debut in the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade on June 25, 1978.

It has been suggested that Baker may have been inspired by Judy Garland’s song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”.

The ‘Flag of the Human Race’ is also said to have played a role, with its five horizontal stripes of red, white, brown, yellow, and black.

Thirty volunteers are believed to have hand-dyed and stitched the first two rainbow flags.

In these contentious days leading up to the Turnbull Government’s postal survey on same sex marriage, the licencees of Cobargo Post Office were ordered to take their flag down by Australia Post. Management deciding the organisation should be seen as neutral on the issue, given the role they will play if the high court challenge sinks.

“It’s fantastic to hear that children are asking questions and talking about it,” David Wilson, licencee of the Cobargo Post Office told the Bega District News.

“And on the other end of the spectrum, I’ve had much older, conservative people come in to give us their support too.”

Cobargo Post Office has been one of a number of key community buildings around Australia to fly the rainbow flag in the last week, including Waurn Ponds Police Station near Geelong in Victoria.

“We are supporting the message as police that you have the right to be proud of who you are — your sexuality or gender identity does not change this,” Acting Senior Sergeant Jane Boyd told the Geelong Advertiser.

The City of Hobart is another, Lord Mayor Sue Hickey told the Hobart Advertiser that the rainbow flag would fly over the Hobart Council Centre until there is marriage equality.

“You should not be discriminated against because of your sexual orientation or sex,” the Lord Mayor said.

“We raised the rainbow flag as a sign of solidarity with our LGBQTI community.”

In Western Australia, the City of Vincent just outside of Perth, last week decided to fly the six colours of the flag above its HQ in “celebration of Vincent’s cultural and social diversity and welcoming spirit.”

Mayor Emma Cole says, “We believe it is important for Vincent to demonstrate our strong support for residents who identify in the LGBTI community and who could be negatively impacted by the upcoming non-binding marriage law postal survey.”

“We also want to visually show that our community stands for equality, diversity and human rights and that our Council is committed to marriage equality.”

Staff at the council will also have the option of wearing “Vincent loves love” shirts, street banners will also fly through the town centre.

With this growing momentum, some South East locals have asked About Regional where they can source their own rainbow flag.

Mogo was my first thought.

Leah Milston’s store ‘Milston Past and Present‘ has been a colourful head turner on the Mogo business strip since December 2005. All sorts of flags are pegged out the front to catch the breeze every day, distracting the passing highway trade.

“Australian, Aboriginal, Eureka and hippy flags are my most popular,” Leah says.

But with people keen to ‘show their colours’ Leah has ordered more and will post out rainbow flags to friends of About Regional.

“I have traditional rainbow flags, rainbow heart flags, peace flags with a rainbow back ground, I have just sold one to a lady from Cobargo,” Leah says.

“I agree with marriage equality but don’t like the idea of the survey.

“Because we could still end with the legislation remaining the same.

“I know some people are scared of change but this is about human rights,” she says.

Leah’s rainbow flags sell for $15, plus a little bit for postage, or Leah says she will post three flags to the one address for free. You’ll catch her on 4474 5708 or [email protected]

If the rainbow flag is available from other stores across the Eurobodalla, Bega Valley and Snowy Monaro please let me know.

*This story was made with the support of About Regional members – Debra Cushion, Amanda Stroud, JoSaccomani, Shane O’Leary, and Tathra Beach House Appartments. Thanks for supporting local news and discussion.

For more on marriage equality locally click HERE. In October 2016, during Mental Health Month Leah Milston wrote of her journey for About Regional, click HERE for more.

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