Safety and hostility at special events: lessons from Australian gay and lesbian festivals

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Markwell, K & Tomsen, S 2010, 'Safety and hostility at special events: lessons from Australian gay and lesbian festivals', Event Management, vol. 14, no. 3, pp. 225-238.

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This article explores aspects of risk, safety, and hostility as perceived and experienced by participants at large-scale gay and lesbian festivals and special events held in Australia. These public celebrations of gay and lesbian identity have considerable economic, social, and cultural benefits and they contribute significantly to the creation of cosmopolitan imagery for the cities in which they are held. In particular, the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras (SGLMG) is now internationally known as a major gay and lesbian festival and attracts substantial numbers of both domestic and inbound tourists. The article reports on the results of an Internet-based questionnaire survey that sought information concerning gay, lesbian, and queer participants' perceptions and experiences of hostility, threats, and violence on the basis of their sexual identity before, during, and after these events. Event organizers and public officials involved in planning and management emphasize the order and goodwill of these occasions. Nevertheless, participants from these sexual minorities feel notably unsafe or threatened in relation to significant aspects of attendance at large-scale nighttime events with a wide heterosexual participation, and this may prove to be an important factor in the long term viability of these events.

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