Aussie's first 'ginger pride' rally proves popular

By Kimberly Gillan

Australia's first ginger pride rally was all about celebrating uniqueness. Photo / Getty
Australia's first ginger pride rally was all about celebrating uniqueness. Photo / Getty

As the favourite butt of primary school jokes, I spent my formative years dreaming of relocating to Ireland where I'd heard that nearly everyone was a redhead.

The thought of being surrounded by a tribe of dopplegangers was my idea of heaven, and I watched enviously as my friends brushed their long brown or blonde locks and imagined how everything would be better if I didn't have a flaming flare beaconing from my head.

I adored the film Pippy Longstocking, which even featured a song about a "freckle face redhead girl you wanna know", but I knew that in my pocket of Melbourne suburbia, all a ginger mane did was draw the mean kids' attention.

In my teens I thought hair dye would be the answer to blending in, but going brunette without learning about make-up led to a deathly pastiness. It was an important breakthrough in embracing what you've got - I let my hair grow back naturally and have never touched a hair dye again.

As I matured, I got on with life and stopped giving my ginger colouring any real thought - but when I heard about Melbourne's first anti-bullying Ginger Pride Rally, I had to go along. I couldn't die wondering what it would feel like to look like everyone else - even just for one morning.

I found my tribe on the banks of the Yarra and screamed the "Ging-er" and "Rang-a" chants at the top of my lungs in honour of my eight-year-old self-conscious self.

The crowds marched to chants of "Ging-er" and "Rang-a". Photo / Getty
The crowds marched to chants of "Ging-er" and "Rang-a". Photo / Getty

There was incredible camaraderie as we celebrated our uniqueness and swapped stories about the worst of the taunts we'd been called.

Cassie Warn, 26, embraces her luscious locks but, like me, she says she felt so different growing up. "When I went to Thailand people pointed at me and made monkey noises," she says. "It's been so great hearing everyone else's stories."

Belinda Free came along with her four-year-old daughter Eliza to show her how wonderful being ginger can be. "I want her to feel confident in how she looks and be proud of herself," Belinda says.

Crowds at the anti-bullying parade swapped comebacks to common redhead jokes. Photo / Getty
Crowds at the anti-bullying parade swapped comebacks to common redhead jokes. Photo / Getty

It was also a place for swapping comebacks to the over-used redhead jokes - like the one Lee Rodgers, 36, learnt from his grandmother. "If someone called me a carrot-top she told me to tell them they're a moron because carrot-tops are actually green," he says.

Event organisers RANGA (Red and Nearly Ginger Association) have been running over-18 ginger pride events for six years but realised there was a need for an all-ages event so kids could celebrate their colouring.

"We wanted to show the pride we have as adults so the kids don't feel too bad about it when they're at school," says Aaron Webb from RANGA.

Webb says a lot of people think it's okay to have a dig at redhead people without realising how hurtful it can be.

The organisers of the rally say constant teasing can be more hurtful than people realise. Photo / Getty
The organisers of the rally say constant teasing can be more hurtful than people realise. Photo / Getty

"Ginger-ism is a real thing," he says.
"Substitute any other minority with gingers ... if they had to deal with the stereotyping and jokes we have to deal with, people would be horrified."

But rather than wag a finger and tell people not to label gingers, Webb says we need to celebrate the uniqueness.

"Our approach is to make those labels so positive," he says. "We don't want to be another bleeding heart minority. We want to be proud of ourselves and achieve some solidarity and some joy and some pride."

- news.com.au

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf04 at 30 May 2017 08:22:17 Processing Time: 1293ms