ALBANY PRIDE started back in 2011, when one in five young people presenting at headspace Albany identified as “not straight” (the figure is now one in four), which prompted Andrew Wenzel (headspace Albany manager) and Annie Arnold (social worker) to get together to see what could be achieved to better support the greater LGBTIQA+ community in Albany, with the generally accepted estimate that around 10% of the population is LGBTIQ).
The result as the founding of Albany Gay and Lesbian… and Everyone In Between (AGAL).
Queer people in rural communities face a number of boundaries not faced by their straight peers, or by LGBTIQA+ people in metropolitan areas, putting them at an increased risk of isolation, or being ‘in the closet’, magnifying the associated mental and physical health and wellbeing risks. AGAL soon began setting up monthly social events which allowed the Queer community of Albany/Kinjarling and the surrounding region to socialise and network; they soon grew in number and highlighted the need by our community for such events.
As an organisation in a small rural community where terms like “LGBTIQA+” weren’t yet commonplace, the name was picked in order to reflect what isolated LGBTIQA+ people in the region may search on Google and other search engines. Although the organisation was always intended to advocate and cater for the entire LGBTIQA+ community, it soon became apparent that the name was not fully inclusive and representative.
After extensive consultation and consideration with our LGBTIQA+ community, a number of potential new names for AGAL were floated that would better reflect and be inclusive of the whole lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, Queer, intersex, asexual and other (LGBTIQA+) community. Albany Pride became the preferred name, as it is clearly associated with our community, is positive, and is inclusive of all of us.
In 2016, ALBANY PRIDE had their first Pride Festival in the region during November, featuring a handful of events for our local community. The Albany Pride Festival has taken place annually since then, and has grown each year to provide a more diverse array of events that provide something for everyone.
Starting in 2021, the Albany Pride Festival has moved to February following the Perth Fringe Festival, which allows us to bring more theatre and entertainment events to Albany. We are also incorporating more sports, fitness and wellbeing events into our annual lineup.
As well as being an event of visibility and celebration for our local LGBTIQA+ community, we have also committed to growing the Albany Pride Festival into a major tourist event for the region, and to showcase Albany’s natural beauty and many attractions as a holiday destination.