When it comes to equality for members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans*, Intersex, and Queer (LGBTIQ) community, there is a great deal of work to be done. That being said, being from the queer community in Melbourne, is one of the most open, liberating and exciting experiences one can have in this day and age. Unsurprisingly, being queer in Australia is legal. In Victoria, members of the community share many of the same rights as their fellow citizens. We are still working towards marriage equality here, but it is only a matter of time. Surveys indicate that up to 70% of Australians are in favour of legalising same-sex-marriage!
Personally, being in Melbourne has given me many opportunities to grow and build a healthy relationship with my own sexuality. When I was 13, I moved from Melbourne to Kuwait. As a teenager in Kuwait, I struggled to accept my sexuality and could not imagine coming out as something that was ever possible for me. I did not know any queer people and didn’t have any exposure to positive representations of the LGBTIQ community. At age 17, I was more than ready to return to Melbourne.
My first introduction to the queer community was at RMIT University. I discovered the ‘Queer Lounge’ - a safe space on campus that allows LGBTIQ students to connect with one another and engage in social activities. It took me a year of walking past the lounge to finally build to courage to go in. Once I took this step, I was introduced to people with varying orientations and identities who were comfortable in their skin and showed great resilience to hardships they’d faced. Accessing this space was so important in my journey. For the first time, I had found people ‘like me’. I was finally able to normalise my identity. From being a timid person who would observe everyone, I became an active member of the community and then eventually went on to become the queer lounge officer - running the space for 12 months.
Throughout this journey, Melbourne has provided me with so many opportunities to engage with the queer community. You can attend rallies for same-sex marriage, go to ‘gayming’ events or join queer inclusive sports clubs. There is something here for everyone! There are festivities and pride events in the city as well as in the countryside. No matter what time of year you come, Melbourne has something to offer you. If you are an LGBTIQ student and are thinking of coming to Melbourne, I would absolutely recommend it.
Take that step and challenge yourself, you will only be a stronger person for it. You’ll have the chance to try new things, discover who you are and meet like minded people. Ideally, you’ll return home equipped with the tools of self-love and empowerment, allowing you to be your true and best self. As much as Melbourne has to offer you, you would be a fabulous contribution to the diverse fabric of society here. Like I said, we have a lot of work to do, but everyday, I feel grateful to be from a city where I can be myself, walk down the street smiling and feel a sense of security and belonging.