Out, But Are We Proud?

By: David Rhodes  

Attitudes to same-sex attraction and gender diversity have undergone significant changes in Australia over the past couple of decades. However, in the wake of the Australian Marriage Equality plebiscite and debate, homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia appear to be alive and well in Australia. While most Australian capital cities have a reasonable level of services to access for support, LGBTIQ Australians in regional, rural, and remote communities still face significant barriers in accessing support. The Marriage Equality campaign in Australia was one fraught with acrimony on all sides of the debate, with media reports often inflaming the situation. Many LGBTIQ Australians felt very vulnerable during this period, facing quite open hostility toward sexual and gender diversity in the media and by key politicians at every level of government. This paper will explore how one regional university campus in Western Australia attempted to fill the gap in service provision for LGBTIQ people of all ages, and mitigate the effect on members of the local LGBTIQ community immediately prior to, during, and after the Marriage Equality plebiscite and subsequent Parliamentary debate. This paper examines why some LGBTIQ people living in regional Australia experience isolation and/or dislocation from the local community and each other, and explore the role of a regional university campus in challenging discrimination and promoting inclusion and the celebration of diversity.

Identity and Belonging
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

David Rhodes

Education Program Coordinator/ Senior Lecturer, School of Education, Edith Cowan University