Sunday, January 22, 2006

The Big Gay Out

Richard gears up for some homo rock action at Midsumma festival.

Part of this year’s Midsumma Festival, The Big Gay Out: Homorock 3 is a welcome alternative to another year of dance parties, gay bars and obligatory pop idol crushes, as the crowds who have flocked to the live music series since its inception clearly indicate.

"We were really surprised by the number of people who turned up to the first homorock gig to be honest," says Hope Collins, from rock band Meebar, one of the organisers of the event. "The first show was pretty much sold out and we’ve had packed houses ever since."

The gigs are a much-needed antidote to the sometimes-homogenous gay and lesbian scene, Collins believes.

"If you come into the scene and you’re kind of different, then it can be difficult. I’ve known people who have come out and within a few weeks have got their heads shaved, are growing their armpit hair and are only wearing comfortable shoes," she laughs wryly, "just to feel like they fit into some sort of community. Another young friend of mine who’s just started going out on the scene has said ‘Oh my god I have to be thin if I’m going to be a gay man!’ There’s still that sort of thing going on which I think is kind of sad, but yeah, hopefully that’s changing."

Homorock events have been so successful that Meebar have even staged a similar night in Sydney.

"It was received really well. It’s like, especially up there, the gay scene is pigeonholed into the one kind of scene, so when we did something different it really brought a mixed crowd of people along, who were just so excited that there was somewhere else to go apart from a dance club."

Although agreeing that the community presents a much more diverse face than it did ten years ago, Hope Collins believes that we still have some way to go.

"I think we do need to look at broadening things, and having different representations. I think that’s happening, it’s something that we’re doing a lot more of as a community, but I think that if you’re someone who’s young and just first going out on the scene, it does seem to have a sort of stereotype."
While Meebar don’t see themselves and their fellow homorock bands as leading the charge, they certainly see themselves as reflective of the changes that have occurred over the past decade.

"I don’t know if we’re championing it or are just a part of it," Collins says thoughtfully, "but I certainly think we’re reflective of a more diverse community. I think the general public still see us as stereotypes, unfortunately. In day to day life I’d like to be able to say to someone, ‘I’m a lesbian’ and have them accept that, instead of having them say, ‘Oh my god really? I would never have guessed’ as if that’s a compliment. It’s like, ‘Oh wow thanks, I’m so glad I fit in with your image of homosexuality.’"

The Big Gay Out (Homo Rock 3): Friday January 27, The Rob Roy Hotel, Fitzroy.

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