Rainbow wreath shines through coronavirus affected Anzac Day service at the Australian War Memorial

A rainbow wreath ceremony has been held at the Australian War Memorial, and incorporated into the Australian War Memorial’s national service during coronavirus affected Anzac Day services.

DEFGLIS President Nathan White led the ceremony at the Stone of Remembrance in the nation’s capital.

“This wreath commemorates all those who have served during times of peace and war,” said White. “The rainbow colours represent the rich diversity of Australian servicepeople’s identities, many of whom served in silence.”

DEFGLIS participates in Anzac Day because this day is important to all Australians. It is a day where we can celebrate our shared values as Australians and be proud of who we are. Wreath-laying is an activity that seeks to recognise all who served.

Rainbow wreaths placed by DEFGLIS represent respectful commemoration of LGBTI personnel who served, and recognise the lasting effects that the wars have on Veteran families.

DEFGLIS Events Director Bonnie Doyle coordinated the incorporation of the wreath into the national service at the Australian War Memorial, in the commemorative courtyard. The rainbow wreath joined others from community and veteran support organisations, and were illuminated by the light of the Eternal Flame.

“Today, as the rainbow wreath’s colours glow in the Hall of Remembrance, the service and sacrifices of our silent soldiers, sailors and airmen permeate as well,” said Doyle. “We do not know who they all were, but they deserve our acknowledgment and remembrance.”

Doyle described the LGBTI community’s feeling of belonging when they saw the wreath broadcast from their driveways, balconies and living rooms.

“It was really important to have visibility in the national service because of the isolation that all Australians are currently experiencing,” said Doyle. “The rainbow is a recognised symbol of how diverse our nation’s service history is.”

Doyle said that feelings of belonging were particularly important to Australians at this time, as social isolation can affect mental health and well-being, particularly for the diverse sex, sexuality and gender community.

Rainbow wreath services were renewed in 2015 following representations from service people of diverse sex, sexuality and gender. DEFGLIS plans to conduct national Rainbow Wreath services upon the removal of government social-distancing measures.

Images courtesy of DEFGLIS and Australian Broadcasting Corporation