We Paddle with Pride

The first Pride Paddle (that we know of among our paddling community) was held in Dubbo, regional NSW, on November 7.

We spoke to Bron Powell, one of the organisers, from Western Paddlers NSW:

What is a Pride Paddle and how did it go?

It’s a paddle for the LGBTIQ+ community and supporters. We made it a short, easy paddle, suitable for beginners and kids, so that anyone could come along, and boats were provided for participants. We had 35 people attend, which was fantastic, but moreover it was just a really good vibe and everyone loved it. It’s a relaxing way to catch up.

It was also great to have several community organisations pitching in: the event was co-organised with the Central West Trans & Gender Diverse Network, and Headspace provided some volunteers and brought several people along, Wambangalang Environmental Education Centre provided the double kayaks, and Rhino Promotions helped with the caps that we gave people.

Why did you decide to run a Pride Paddle?

It’s an opportunity for the LGBTIQ+ community to get together and catch up in a fun way. Members of the community can already feel isolated, and then we had Covid as well, so it became even more important to hold an event. There used to be an annual Pride March in Dubbo, and now that that’s not happening anymore, we need more events for the community. Many people hadn’t really paddled before, so it was also an opportunity to get more people into paddling! And several people afterward said they are keen to do more paddling now.

How did you come up with the idea of a Pride Paddle?

A member of of the Central West Trans & Gender Diverse Network (Lee Robinson) had approached me before about a paddle for their group, and I knew Lee was into kayaking; so, both being a part of the LGBTIQ+ community and into paddling, it made sense to get together and organise a paddle for the community! The idea also came from previously having a Pride March in Dubbo – this wasn’t a march though, so we called it a Pride Paddle! I hadn’t heard of a Pride Paddle before, but I think there should be more of them! It would be great to get something happening as part of the Sydney Mardi Gras…

What were some of the logistics – to share with others thinking about running a similar event?

We got all the regos (through GoMembership), then worked out who would be in which boat (we used clubs boats, personal boats and Wambangalang’s boats). On the day we had all the boats lined up on the shore with the people’s names written on them. We had several marshalls (qualified guides and experienced paddlers) with radios, so we could communicate if any incidents occurred. The paddle started and finished at the same place, and we had booked this space through Council, so that there would be no problems with us being there. We charged $10 pp so that people would value it plus it means people will turn up on the day if they’ve paid! We gave out free caps with the Pride Paddle logo on them – we decided on caps rather than shirts, because you can’t see t-shirts under lifejackets, and our caps look way better – they’re really smick! (They have ‘I paddle with pride’ written on them). We wanted to have a BBQ afterward, but as this was planned during Covid, we couldn’t.

Anything else?

We’d like to thank the organisations that gave us funding for the event: Essential Energy and the Pride Foundation Australia. Plus of course everyone who came and made it a great event!

We were going to make it an annual event, but people have requested we hold them more frequently!