CoastOut festival appeals to Coffs

PARTICIPATION and inclusion for people from all walks of life – that’s what CoastOut is all about said organisers.

The gay and lesbian festival was the subject of a mass protest email campaign this week orchestrated by six members of the LifeHouse church congregation.

The emails were sent to approximately 1000 people asking them to complain to council about the event and sparked a massive reaction from Advocate readers.

Organisers remain committed to staging the event in October.

Rather than deter tourists from coming to Coffs as the email suggests, organisers argue beach activities, a Fair Day and picnic and charity dinners are all features of the event that will put Coffs Harbour on the map for the gay and lesbian community and beyond.

“This is an ‘and friends’ festival – mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles – whether you’re gay or straight,” event organiser Todd Buttery said.

“The underlying themes for the festival are participation and inclusion for everyone.”

Set to commence on October 29, the three day festival will feature a charity fundraising welcome party, a CoastOut Beach Carnival, fair and Australia’s first ever gay and lesbian surfing competition.

Entertainer Bob Downe will be heading to town for the event as will ex-Bachelor Girl Tania Doko and a bunch of other “surprise” performers, including some high profile Australian personalities.

“Basically there are a number of different gay and lesbian festivals out there but nothing on the beach,” Mr Buttery said.

“Tropical North Queensland, the Sunshine Coast, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane – they all have a market for this demographic but it’s something Coffs just hasn’t done.

“I love Coffs, I grew up here and I’m really proud of what we have to offer. We have some of the best beaches in the country, we have mountains, rainforest and some of the most beautiful scenery in the country. When the idea for a gay games event was suggested in the Advocate I showed council my proposal and they loved it.”

He said the event would hopefully open a whole new tourism market to the region.

“I’m really glad there is a different type of event on the gay and lesbian calendar and it’s at a great time of year,” he said. “This is also an opportunity for local business people to put themselves in front of this demographic for the first time ever.

“At the end of the day if people have a problem with it, they don’t have to come – just like if you don’t like a TV show, you don’t watch it, or you don’t like a certain type of music, you don’t listen. But anyone who wishes to come is more than welcome.”


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