On sexualised puritanism

Midsumma is the Melbourne Gay and Lesbian Festival. Yesterday was one of their feature events, Carnival, a big get together day along the Yarra River, with music, food, and community stalls.

It is unclear, however, what Carnival is exactly designed to be. Right after the entrance, I walked into people in black singlets playing volleyball among a circle of stalls for Gay and Lesbian sports groups. I greeted a friend from the ‘Glamourheads swim team’, and walked across the centre lawn. Blaring sun, no shade. From the main stage, a cover band played a loud piece of doof doof dance music. On the way, I passed a small group of men in skimpy swimsuits, with the words ‘naked men fest’ written on their bodies.

Past the skateboard rink, the corporate and community stalls started: Coles, PWC, Dykes on Bikes, and three different animal protection groups. People pushed leaflets and showbags into my hands. ‘Are you interested in getting a job?’ Someone asked. At an HIV stand, somebody took a photograph with a hunk in a red cape and white underwear saying ‘no glove, no love’.

It was all very teasing, I was hoping to see some action – a handjob workshop, Kink DIY practice, an orgy tent – or at least some proper nudity. But there was none of it, no touching, no sex on premises. Carnival is family friendly. Yet again, there were not many families, nor many women either. Mostly white men with frustrated expressions.

As I walked back along the main alley, heading back home, I passed a man in a black t-shirt and two young Asian women holding white ‘Colgate’ plastic bags. “Oh, toothpaste!” I said, “Why are you handing toothpaste at a gay festival?  Should I brush before or after the blow job then?” They were not amused. “No, we’re a gay-owned dental clinic – some people find it more comfortable.”

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