22 February 2021, 23:00:00
The Malta Independent
In 2019,The Malta Independent interviewed Joe Fountain and James Mifsud as part of the Malta Pride 2019 special supplement .
Joe Fountain gives a glimpse of what the Queer Nightlife was in the 1990s. Joe remembers how he and some friends began organising gay parties at a club in Xemxija called Natasha's. The first party had an attendance of around 30 people which by the third party alone had people waiting around the block to enter the famous Natasha's. "The popularity of the party grew by word of mouth. We organised so many parties, pantomimes and drag shows. Many people till this day tell me that those parties at Natasha's were the best thing that could have happened at the time." After a while Joe let go of Natasha's and left it in the hands of Stefan Aquilina to organise.
Sometime in 1993/94, Joe decided to take the gay party scene up a notch and organise a big party at the Orpheum Theatre in Gzira, calling it Pride. Along with Aquilina and DJ Pierre Parnis, they began planning for the party. "I remember speaking to the owner of the theatre and he was not sure why of all places we wanted to rent his theatre. It was not the easiest of times, but it felt like we were doing something important and in some way we organised the first Pride party, even though police intervened just a few hours into the party, it was great fun."
Joe noted that mentalities were beginning to change in the late 1990s, as more people began to stir away from their perception of what a stereotypical gay man looked like and acted. "Many of us did not fit the stereotypical gay man who was feminine or a transvestite, instead we portrayed to be what society's idea of a man was and for a while that freaked people out. Also more girls began hanging out with us because we were cool and fun to be around, which made our groups bigger and more visible." He said that the scene also changed drastically once drugs came into the picture; everything changed. Ecstasy broke down all the barriers of the past; straight and gay people began experimenting together.
Joe left Malta in 2001, and whenever he did come back between travels, he realised that not only more people were becoming tolerant but also that there was a proper discussion being held on LGBTQ+ rights and communities. "There were more educational discussions and a topic spoken about, it was a slow but a sold shift that was gradual. Looking back I would have never thought I would get married in Malta. The night the Equality Bill passed will be forever one of the most emotional nights of my life."