In 2020, is it time for greater awareness of LGBTQIA+ events and environments that are not centralized around nightlife, alcohol and other substances?
Historically speaking, queer bars and clubs provided a safe place for the LGBTQIA+ community to escape prejudice. Over time, they developed into spaces of underground activism and radical protests for social and political change — although personally, I’d prefer being radical from my couch, in pajamas and a cup of tea. These watering holes created a sense of belonging — particularly at a time when a feeling of community was rarely accessible anywhere else.
So, where to?
In recent years, queer nightlife has become more outwardly open, providing welcoming beacons for the LGBTQIA+ community. One just has to walk down Oxford Street during Sydney Mardi Gras to see rainbow flags proudly flying from all the pub walls and windows. It can feel like these spaces are inherently designed for extroverts and party animals, which raise the question, how then do the introverts, abstainers or lovers of early night find meaningful connections within our own queer communities?
Where do we go when we don’t feel like drinking, bright lights and loud music? How do we stay connected in the community without having to wear a party shirt and go to a fortnightly queer night at the local pub?
Like Hannah Gatsby asks in Nanette, “Where are the quiet gays meant to go?”
Don’t worry, you’re not alone and we’ve got you covered. Venturing outside of the sanctuaries of queer- friendly nightlife can be daunting, but there are some options that don’t involve queuing at a busy gay bar to purchase an overpriced drink in that sweatbox we call a club.
1. Australian Pride Network
By nature, the LGBTQIA+ world offers incredible diversity; so naturally, we desire diversity in spaces and opportunities. The most convenient way to know what’s on near you would be the Australian Pride Network website. This super-handy website provides you with a list of all the events that occur in your state throughout the year where you’ll find plenty of quieter options.
2. Queer film festivals
Queer Film Festivals are a great annual event in larger cities and towns around Australia and are easily accessible via social media or internet search. Some examples include:
- Melbourne Queer Film Festival
- Sydney Mardi Gras Film Festival
- Brisbane Film Festival
- Pride Queer Film Festival Perth
3. Sports Clubs
Whether you’re interested in a new sporting team or prefer the spectator role, there’s an option for you. Joining a sporting club is a great way to widen your social network. Not only will you find yourself involved in weekly practice sessions, games and competitions but most clubs regularly host social functions. Increasingly, sporting clubs are including a pride round in their calendar:
- Pride Rounds for spectators in rural Victoria, from Football games to Roller Derby, Softball and Netball.
- Out Dance in Perth offers a variety of dancing options in a safe and relaxed environment.
- Team Adelaide offers participation in various sports.
- There are various other options Australia-wide.
4. Meet Up events
The Meetup app allows users to arrange and join social events, and the LGBT+ friends section is thriving. Whether you’re looking to hike, meditate, go to the movies, brunch, join a book club, a D&D club, ride motorbikes and everything in between, the Meet Up app has an option for you.
5. Peer Support Groups
If your focus is more on trying to change your drinking or drug use, you might find it helpful to talk with people who are also trying to make a change. Queer-focused peer support meetings are held all across the country:
- Gay AA lists AA meetings specifically for LGBTQIA+ people in every state. Despite the name, the group is open to all members of the LGBTQIA+ communities.
- SMART Recovery also offers queer-specific meetings. Contact them to find a meeting near you.
- QLife can also help you find general LGBTQIA+ support groups in your area.
- The Counselling Online Forums offer a queer-friendly and non-judgmental online space to connect with others who are affected by drugs and alcohol.
Social connection within LGBTQIA+ spaces can be achieved without nightlife, substances, and glitter (although you don’t have to give up the glitter if you don’t want to). While these can be seen as staples in the LGBTQIA+ world and certainly still have a role to play, building awareness of other options will affirm our strength in diversity. Members of the LGBTQIA+ communities live courageously every single day as we choose to show the world our true selves. Let’s do the same with our social choices, ensuring meaningful connections for all members.