Ripe time for gays
FOR dozens of gay, lesbian and transgender residents of the Northern Rivers, Saturday's Tropical Fruits' Fruitopia Fair Day provided a chance to congregate among like-minded people.
"This region has one of the largest populations of gay and lesbians outside the major cities," said Goolmangar's Andrew Walker.
"There's not many places you can live outside the city and feel comfortable being gay."
Multi-media artist Michael Rogowski, who won the best costume prize for dog and owner at the event's dog show - he seems to win this prize every year with his patient cavoodle Minnie - said the day brought the GLBTI community together.
Lismore's Aura Withers said she made a habit out of attending everything sponsored by the Tropical Fruits.
"I love the community feel, I love the support network," she said.
Gay historian Ian Grey of the Wadeville multiple occupancy aptly named Radical Faeries said events like Fruitopia celebrated just how far the community has come over the 25 years since the Tropical Fruits were first founded.
"If you take away the differences, you find there is more in common between people than you realise," he said.
"For many people here today who have lost their family since coming out, their new family is the queer community," said Ian.
"But that is starting to change. After all, even Tony Abbott has a lesbian sister. And Bob Katter has a gay half-brother."