A Queer Lady’s guide to Melbourne

Favoured for its culture, food and coffee, Melbourne is frequently referred to as ‘the cosmopolitan city’ of Australia. I feel pretty comfortable with this statement, finding it the most vibrant of places to visit in Australia, in terms of multiculturalism, cuisine and events, not to mention the visually spectacular street art! However, I may be biased..

Degraves Street coffee hub

Melbourne has always been the point of return for my internal compass. I grew up in the north-western suburbs and even though I spent my teenage years on a rural property in the state’s north, still managed to find my way back to the city of my childhood. As an adult, I love moving through the different neighborhoods, noticing how certain areas have changed whilst others have remained mostly the same. I also find it interesting to look at Melbourne through my queer eyes, when for so long I experienced the city solely through an out of focus heteronormative lens. Oops.

Hosier Lane street art

Melbourne has a great deal to offer the LGBTQIA+ community, yet I believe there is still so much more room for growth and recognition. The following list details a few places I found to be welcoming and inclusive on my journey coming out..and beyond:

Sundaylicious: The place to dance your moves away once a month with an all inclusive lady loving crowd. The venue changes a lot so be sure to check on facebook or instagram where the next event is being held. What I love about Sundaylicious is the wide age range of people who go – everyone is welcome and their motto is ‘come as you are’, so no need to dress up, unless you feel like it of course! The sessions start with acoustic vibes for a chilled Sunday afternoon, with the beat picking up after dark for DJ inspired dancing.

Friyays: Held in Francesca’s Bar in Northcote, this is a really fun night too. It is perfectly situated along High Street so eating beforehand is not a problem with the generous array of restaurants nearby! The venue is quite small so choose your space wisely when heading to the dance floor, otherwise you will be in the line of foot traffic heading to and from the bar. This venue also offers an outdoor room for those wishing to escape the noise of the dance/bar area in which smoking is allowed.

Hares & Hyenas: Quirky and queer this bookshop is a must stop for anyone in the Fitzroy area. Honestly, there would be no queer book unavailable here, either in stock or via order. Events are hosted at different times of the year so so be sure to check the website for more details.

Handsome Her: OMG! This is a recent discovery! Situated in Brunswick this feminist cafe could turn any omnivorous girl vegan. I  recently had the most delicious avocado smash here. It was absolutely superb! Homemade kombucha on tap, a surcharge for men that is donated to charity in recognition of the gender pay gap, stimulating feminist reading and amazing food, what’s not to love? I believe they are also starting to host evening events too, so check them out on instagram or their website for further details.

Vegie Bar: Melbourne’s long time popular eatery which is an easy tram ride from the city center. Vegie Bar will not disappoint..picture all sorts of vegetarian loveliness in a welcoming, diverse space in the heart of Fitzroy. The laksa is a fave of mine here. Eat alone or eat with friends, everyone is made to feel welcome.

Welcoming cafe culture/op shops/bars worth visiting: Brunswick Street Fitzroy, High Street Northcote, Sydney Road Brunswick, Sydney Road Coburg, Fitzroy/Acland Street St Kilda, Johnston Steet Fitzroy, Chapel St Prahan.

Outside of Melbourne: Daylesford (home of the Chillout pride festival) and Castlemaine are my two favourite places to visit with welcoming feelings of inclusiveness. Beach-side it would have to be Barwon Heads.

Sesame Street
Sesame Street street art. Iconic stance for individuality and acceptance!

THE MELBOURNE QUEER WOMAN’S CALENDER: 

January/early February: Midsumma Festival including Melbourne Pride Parade. Countless events, shows and performances celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community.

February/March: 2 Feb – 25 March: AFLW. Australian Women’s Football League. A fantastic league to support and it needs all the visibility it can get to ensure it continues to grow and offer more games for players and supporters in the following seasons.

March: March 8: International Women’s Day. A host of different events within different municipalities across Melbourne. See what’s on in your local area..

Melbourne Queer Film Festival – around ten days of diverse viewing within different venues across Melbourne. Season passes or tickets to individual events are available through the website. The MQFF offers something for the queer in us all. See online program for further details.

March/April: The Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Check the program online for details. Last year I was fortunate enough to see Hannah Gadsby’s “Nanette” before it went viral and turned into a Netflix special. Absolutely brilliant!

May: 17 – IDAHOBIT Day. International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia. Flag raising and community events across Melbourne. Check local municipality websites for further details.

October: Australian LGBT History Month encompassing the Queer Formal, put on by Minus 18.

December: Carols by Queerlight. The Melbourne Rainbow Band puts on festive tunes at the St Kilda Town Hall. Check their website for details closer to the event (and for additional events throughout the year!)

Events in Outer Melbourne/regional areas: visit Australian Pride Network 

Hosier Lane ‘Graffiti Alley’

If you happen to know of any queer events or welcoming places, in or around Melbourne not listed here, please let me know in the comments section and I will add them to the list and link back to your blog.

Thanks so much for reading,

Luna xo

 

 

To Find One’s Tribe

Yesterday I was at the annual Pride march in Melbourne. It was a baking hot 39c with a clear blue sky. The commencement of the march had been shifted from the previously scheduled 2pm to an earlier 11am, in order to give people a chance to escape the worst of the heat. In true Melbourne style the crowds came out (oops, no pun intended!). I witnessed people cramming onto trains and trams to arrive in good time to situate themselves in a shady aspect along Melbourne’s iconic Fitzroy Street in the heart of St Kilda. The crowd was a sea of colour; rainbow socks, frocks and sparkly pairs of jocks. Braces and bow ties, hats, capes and umbrellas for protection against the harsh summer sun. Feathers and bubbles with a side of sequins for good measure. Glittered beards. If a person is ever feeling like the lone gay in the village, all they need do is find themselves along Fitzroy Street on Pride day, where they will be enveloped in the enormous crowd that is Melbourne’s LGBTQI+ community.

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I had been feeling especially this way, living out of the city, where metropolitan living and rural zones merge. Life here, whilst being incredibly rich for my soul in so many ways, is particularly bland (non existent even?) in anything resembling rainbow visibility. I love Melbourne’s diversity and vibrant, eclectic mix of cultural groups. For me, it is what makes Melbourne home. I feel fortunate to be within easy travelling distance of the city and my heart goes out for members of the LGBTQI+ community who live in remote areas where traveling down for the day is not an option.

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Over the weekend a friend and I were talking about queer visibility in country towns and how important this is for people who identity as LGBTQI+, wherever they find themselves along the rainbow. For me, it all comes down to feeling a sense of belonging to my tribe, which is why events like Pride are so powerful for reconciling who we are when times are tough. It is about a sense of belonging, acceptance and zero judgement to be the person who is continually rising within. It is about authenticity and supporting my community. Empowerment. Giving back where I once received. Recognising that we are all so uniquely different and that is the richness of our identities. Sharing this and celebrating it however we choose. Carving a greater space for Rainbow Pride within communities across our country. It is about people connecting with one another and sharing who they are.

Tribe.

One word.

Of ancient origin.

Humans are social creatures and need to feel this sense of belonging. It is fundamental to our sense of self. Connection lies in the core of humanity.

I feel blessed to be slowly finding my tribe.

Luna xo

 

The Ups and Ups of a Long Distance Relationship

Three and a half years ago I met her. The One I Love.

Touring the UK with my mum and brother, she was an unexpected appearance in my recently fractured world.

“We can make this work.” She ponders as we avoid counting the minutes that we have left together at Heathrow Airport.

“I don’t know…I have so little to offer..” My voice trailing off as the reality of the vast distance between London and Melbourne began to sink in. 16,893 kilometers to be exact.

“You have SO much to offer!” We stand in silence and despair at the thought of parting.

With the concept of physical distance beginning to dissolve, being replaced with the closeness one feels in the heart when emotionally connected through a dimension physical distance does not occupy, I began to see that maybe this could work. We could have a chance at this. It need not be the end, especially as it really did feel like the beginning…

Jump forward three and a half years and I wonder in awe at how we have come this far.

Have we bridged the gap? No.

Is there a move scheduled sometime soon? Nope.

BUT!

We see each other every few months for a few weeks at a time, minimum. The world and it’s noise ceases to exist and only we are present in our glorious bubble of love. We condense our ‘dates’ into blocks (and have a bloody good time with that, let me tell you!).  When we are together we laugh, chill, go out, stay in, sleep late, eat delicious food, drink way too much and go places that we really want to share with each other. We read funny things and share them, in real time!

What about when you are apart I hear you ask?

We skype and text message everyday. And send lovely (and ridiculous) snail mail and special deliveries. We share our online music.

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Anything else that brings you comfort when you are apart? 

Well since you asked..

I know she can’t smell me when I skip a shower some days.

Garlic consumption is no longer an issue. For either of us.

I can eat at weird times (or not at all) and not feel guilty that I am depriving her of her daily nutritional intake.

There is a bucket load of time to work on personal goals, study and plan for when we are next together. This has to be a good thing, right? Yes!

I can research new places to go when we are next together, add to my list and watch it grow.

Netflix binging. It’s only natural that not all our viewing tastes align. Say no more.

There is no limit to the amount of sport one can listen to. Or choose not to listen to!

The cat sleeps on my bed (again, shh..).

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Ridiculous snail mail! (Postcard courtesy of Chit Chat Design UK)

In all seriousness, what I appreciate most of all about being apart is the abundance of time for personal growth and working on achieving goals. Knowing that I can invest time in myself which will help me to become a better person, which in turn will bring us closer to being where we want to be, whenever that happens to be. There is something so wonderful about working hard for something that is so important to you (i.e. your future life), and enjoying your time together along the way.

I know that it won’t always be this way and I have every faith that we will somehow bridge that gap the separates us at times. Until then, there is much work to do to make sure I am in the best possible place when that time presents itself announcing that it is in fact right.

Be well out there, whether you are near or far from your love, if you are yet to meet them, or your love is yourself (as it should be for all of us!).

Luna xo

The Importance of Queer Role Models when Coming Out

With Midsumma currently on in Melbourne, I find it interesting to reflect on how coming out can open one’s eyes to the presence (or at times, lack of) queer role models that we can look to for guidance, support and validation.

In early 2015, I came out to my husband and children. I was in my late thirties at the time. Yes, I guess you could say I am ‘one of those type of persons’. You know, the one who is married, has a happy family and then, BOOM! Out of nowhere completely shakes up her world and that of all those around her. “Why didn’t she know before?” “How could we not see it?” and my personal favourite “Oh, yeah, that actually makes a lot of sense!”

Coming out at this age was the most heartbreaking experience of my life because it meant dismantling the family unit I was in that was so close and so strong. Yet, I knew I would not be true to my authentic self if I continued to remain in a situation that was unrepresentative of who I actually was. Fast forward to looking at the world through my fresh queer eyes that everyone else was aware of too. This was completely foreign to me. Somehow I had thought that coming out would be the end of all my problems, and subsequently the beginning of a smooth existence without the wrinkles of deceit. Which to be fair, it basically was in the scheme of things, yet one thing was lacking. The presence of any queer role models in my world. I think my go to’s were Ellen and the gay couple who lived in our neighbourhood. All of my friends were in heterosexual relationships, and had children and families of their own. I felt completely isolated.

Coming out with no support from ‘your tribe’ is tough. No matter how amazing your family and friends are, there needs to be validation from people who share the same components that make up You. I remember at the time searching hard for similarly aged role models who I could relate to and coming up with zilch. And then do you know what happened? I started to find validation and support in younger people. My daughters who were in their teens began to talk about their friends who identified as queer. I looked to younger people in the media who were being so open and honest and unashamedly true to being themselves. It was empowering and validating. I felt not like some outcast of her world, but more like someone who was yet to arrive to her world. As my awareness of role models around me grew, from the political arena to the entertainment industry, so too did my experiences with real life role models. Again, the first to appear were people in my daughters’ age group. Their completely accepting and open natures made me speechless and so grateful to have them in my world. How wonderful to be a young person today and growing up without a lot of the undercurrents of homophobia that existed when I was a teenager. I know undercurrents (and outright blatant currents!) still exist, but so much has also dropped away. Yes indeed. How wonderful.

As my interactions with real life, younger role models grew, so too did role models more my same age, they just took a little longer to appear. From teachers to the people in my local cafe. From friends of friends to colleagues. Humans are indeed herd creatures. We function best when we are accepted by our ‘group’. Being able to find support among your peers is vital, especially when those peers know, and I mean really know the place you are coming from. The unspoken understanding of being different to the majority of the population. This comes from the look in a person’s eyes, no spoken words are necessary.

As Melbournians gear up for Pride on Sunday, I hope you are in a good place, with contact to positive role models that bring you validation and a sense of comfort and acceptance within yourself.

Take care out there,

Love Luna xo

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Midsumma 2019: Dogz and Drag

One thing I love about summer in Melbourne is Midsumma festival. Midsumma is the queer festival on the calendar for Melbournians. It runs over 23 days and offers over 165 unique and diverse events that support the LGBTQI+ community. Two highlights of the Midsumma festival are Carnival day, a fantastic day out for the whole family in the Alexandra Gardens, set along the south bank of the Yarra river and the city’s annual Pride March. Carnival day would be my favourite, as it is such a great atmosphere with all ages catered for, including under 18’s. Many people choose to bring a picnic and meet friends under the shady trees, enjoying the wide range of performances on the stages throughout the day. I really love seeing all the dogs come out with their owners and I take great joy in watching the dog show, which includes such categories as Best Bitch, Sexiest Stud, Best Dressed and Best in Show. Below are a selection of this years contestants..with a little bit of drag sprinkled in because who doesn’t love a bit of glam..?

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I was also so happy to see such a spectacularly dressed roving supporter from RMIT University. It made me feel so proud to be studying somewhere that celebrates diversity in all of its glorious colour and excitement!

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Best Dressed: Rocket Dog

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If you happen to be reading this and get a chance to see CAZELEON, I strongly suggest you do – I found their performance to be completely soulful and moving!

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More information on Midsumma can be found here.

Looking forward to the Pride March in a couple of weeks!

Luna xo