Spectator Ashley, 21, of Murrumbeena, said while some in the crowd might be afraid of coronavirus, ‘‘I don’t think they should be’’.
This is her sixth Pride March and she loves ‘‘hanging out with my community. I love to see people being proud of who they are, and marching for what they believe in.’’
Another spectator, Sara, 22, of Mill Park, said she knew the incidence of coronavirus was increasing ‘‘and there is that risk, but I feel pretty safe’’.
More important was experiencing her first Pride March, to express, she said, ‘‘such an integral part of my identity’’.
‘‘To be able to share that with all these people is really special to me. I’ve never been able to do that before, to celebrate my sexuality.’’
Malloy Rolfe, 84, rode in the parade in rickshaws with a group called Alice’s Garage, an LGBTI offshoot of the seniors advocacy social enterprise Celebrate Ageing.
Ms Rolfe and five others, aged from 66 to 89, wore fluorescent vests and hard hats, and handed out cards with personal stories intended to ‘‘build pride’’ in an often isolated and vulnerable age group.
Ms Rolfe’s card had a photo of her taken in hospital in about 1965, during ‘conversion’ therapy including electro-shock and LSD treatment.
The psychiatrist supervised treatment was at the urging of an older ‘‘friend’’. It failed and Ms Rolfe had a loving 23-year relationship with a woman called Natalie, who died four years ago.
The other side of the card tells the conversion therapy story, and says that today Ms Rolfe is ‘‘a proud lesbian’’: ‘‘You’re stronger than you think,’’ it tells the reader.
‘‘I didn’t know if I would be strong enough to get through it. But I was.’’
Ms Rolfe said forms of conversion therapy still go on. ‘‘I think that it’s pointless,’’ she said. ‘‘People are who they are.’’
Sitting beside Ms Rolfe in her rickshaw was transwoman Kathy, 72, from Gippsland, who said that by being in the march, and telling her story, she wanted to inspire others to overcome isolation and depression.
‘‘It feels good to be with people of the rainbow, or people of the village, as I call it,’’ she said.
‘‘I had a bit of a crisis when I came out [in her 60s]. I thought I was the lowest of the low. I thought I was alone in the world, that no one else can be like me.
“But it turns out there are quite a few people like me.’’
Carolyn Webb is a reporter for The Age.