Rallies and Rally Caps

Bailey Gilmore
June 24, 2013
One of many clever signs at the Rally for Marriage Equality in downtown Melbourne. Marchers walking across a newly chalked rainbow crossing in the image of the painted one removed from a street in Sydney in April. Demonstrators head for the steps of Parliament House to conclude the march portion of the rally. The Falun Gong celebration was joined by protests against repression and other issues aimed at China. Here is an example of an issue for which the protest raised awareness; volunteers also had petitions for passersby to sign to encourage Australian government action. Melbournians are mighty proud of their MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground)—despite the name its most popular use is for Australian Rules Football, called AFL or simply footy. Footy originated in Melbourne, and it is a must-love sport around here. Suburbs have their own teams and play amongst each other and with other states. The sport is not a variation on American football whatsoever—players may only pass by kicking or, as the photo shows, by punching the ball.

Living in a big city offers ample opportunities for involvement in a cause—from local to global. Indeed, on my way to a rally for marriage equality I passed two other protests. The rally I attended drew people eager to capitalize on New Zealand’s recent legalization of same-sex marriage, although the prospect of a Liberal Party coalition government come August loomed large over these hopes. Part of the rally march included coloring a street crossing like a rainbow, a symbol of solidarity with Sydney where a painted one was recently removed by the traffic minister, Duncan Gay (oh, irony). Enough people took part that the chalking took about three minutes even when a lot of us didn’t touch the chalk at all. Still, four million people live in this city and the protest was not too much larger than similar ones in my hometown.

Down the street there was a Falun Gong celebration accompanied by demonstrations for greater awareness about the religion and its repression in China, as well as other issues relevant to China like forced organ harvesting. The bright dancing figures in the photo made a stark contrast against the solemn protesters standing with their signs.

Big city life also means sporting events, and for Melbournians this means AFL. Aussie football is like other sports in that there is a ball and goals on two ends of a field, but a lot of it is just plain weird to a foreign casual observer such as myself. I was surprised to find that it wasn’t anything close to American football. Somehow I thought they would be comparable, and the balls themselves are not all that different. But truly, the differences are more important than the similarities. For one thing, players aren’t allowed to carry the ball more than a couple steps. I encourage those who are curious to do a search on YouTube. One thing you may notice is that if a player catches a kick of more than 15 meters then play stops and he is allowed to take steps back from his catching point away from defenders to take an open kick. In any case, tickets are cheaper than the movies and watching is very entertaining. Most fun of all is choosing teams and rooting against the most hated team—except by the proud and plentiful fans—Collingwood.

P.S. In Australia you don’t “root” for a team, you “go” for a team, as in, “oh so you go for Collingwood?”

More Blogs From This Author

View All Blogs

Bailey Gilmore

<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Bailey is a comparative politics major at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. Her academic interests stretch across the social sciences, from history to geography to criminology, and, of course, to politics. Originally from Eugene, Oregon, Bailey is an devoted ultimate frisbee player and can&#39;t wait for Australian Rules Ultimate. When she&#39;s not on the field or nerding out about population growth in various countries, you can find her singing along to the best of the &#39;60s and &#39;70s and/or working to capture life, place, and person on camera. She is ready and eager to dive into life at a big university in a big city, all in the wonder Down Under.</span></p>

2013 Spring
Home University:
University of Puget Sound
Explore Blogs