Australians increasingly recognise the important contribution of the arts to our wellbeing and happiness.1 The arts make our individual lives better and build stronger and more cohesive communities. All Australians have a right to access and participate in arts and creativity and enjoy the enriching benefits of the arts in our daily lives.
Led by artists Tristan Meecham and Bec Reid, All The Queens Men champion social equality through theatrical and participatory arts experiences that connect communities, audiences and artists. This includes The Coming Back Out Ball, which is a spectacular celebration of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Gender Diverse and Intersex elders, and The LGBTI+ Elders Dance Club, which is a free ongoing social event for rainbow elders and their allies that aims to combat ageism, social isolation and discrimination.
All the Queens Men’s social mission is informed by research on the loneliness plaguing elderly populations, which is deemed even more acute for LGBTI+ people.2 Having lived through historical discrimination, impending old age has meant some elders are going back into the closet for fear of being deprived of companionship and quality care when they need it most.
The Coming Back Out Ball acknowledges the resilience of this community and gives a gift of visibility to LGBTI+ elders. It is a night in which the broader community can sit alongside LGBTI+ elders to eat, drink, dance, reminisce and dream together into the future. More than 650 guests and volunteers attended the ball at the Melbourne Town Hall in October 2018.
A feature documentary about the event promoted the lived experiences and histories of LGBTI+ elders to thousands of people who watched the film around the country in cinemas and at film festivals. Recognising the cultural value and social impact of the project, the Coming out Ball was awarded the 2018 Green Room Award (Community Collaboration) and a 2018 VicHealth Award (Health through Art).
IMAGE Credit: All The-Queen’s Men, The Coming Back Out Ball. Credit Bryony Jackson
In 2018, All The Queens Men expanded their social mission to connect LGBTI+ elders throughout regional and rural Victoria via a partnership with the Victorian Seniors Festival and local councils and support from the Australia Council. Over 800 people attended the LGBTI+ Elders Dance Clubs presented across Victoria throughout 2018.
As result of the success of the dance clubs and The Coming Back Out Ball, All the Queens Men are developing partnerships to establish further events across Australia and internationally throughout 2019 and 2020.
The community arts and cultural development sector in Australia are astute at fostering new collaborations, and new ways of engaging and thinking that create accessible platforms and impactful opportunities for artists and communities alike – all while producing amazing art.
All the Queens Men were supported by an Australia Council project grant.
1 Australia Council 2017, Connecting Australians: Results of the National Arts Participation Survey.
2 Kuyper L & Fokkema T 2010, Archives of Sexual Behaviour 39: 1171.
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