The Victorian Pride Centre has marked one year since officially opening as Australia’s first purpose-built community hub for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender diverse, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ+) communities.
The Victorian Government invested more than $25 million to establish the landmark centre on Fitzroy Street in St Kilda, which celebrates LGBTIQ+ communities, honours their rich histories and supports organisations and groups working towards LGBTIQ+ equality.
The community-run centre houses major and important LGBTIQ+ resident organisations and provides flexible and multi-use spaces for hire, including meeting rooms, a rooftop terrace, co-working spaces, a theatrette and gallery.
In its first year of life, the Victorian Pride Centre has brought LGBTIQ+ communities and allies together through a range of social events. Following the Pride March in St Kilda on 6 February 2022, more than 1200 people visited the centre for its first large celebration on the rooftop.
Monthly Sunday Sizzle events have also been a drawcard, with about 500 people taking part in a special edition for Pride Month in June featuring performances from LGBTIQ+ artists, markets and a sausage sizzle.
The centre’s gallery space has hosted a range of art exhibitions over the past year, highlighting the diversity and resilience of Victoria’s LGBTIQ+ communities. These exhibitions have included ‘Identity, adornment, transformation’ from July 2021 to January 2022 – which showcased art by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists – and ‘Freedom is Mine’ from January to March 2022, a photography exhibition featuring LGBTIQ+ people seeking asylum and refugees.
The facility’s theatrette has been put to use with a range of unique screenings, including a showing of ‘Welcome to Chechnya’, a film about LGBTIQ+ activities in Russia, presented by Eleos Justice and Kaleidoscope Human Rights Foundation. The theatrette was also the venue for Transgender Victoria’s inaugural Trans Day of Visibility Gala.
The Victorian Pride Centre – which was closed for several months in its first year amid COVID-19 restrictions – also played an important role in late 2021 by running pop-up clinics for COVID-19 vaccinations.
Beyond the physical building, the centre has also been a virtual hub, with an online directory of LGBTIQ+ resources and events to support LGBTIQ+ people to celebrate who they are connect with each other, wherever they are in the state.
The first Community Reference Group for the Victorian Pride Centre in regional Victoria was held in Geelong, ensuring LGBTIQ+ communities across the state are also continuing to shape the work of this important hub.