“Don’t give up.”
Three simple, but effective words were uttered by transgender university student Ashlyn McDonald, speaking outside the Bendigo town hall on the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia.
In a brave speech, Ms McDonald detailed her lived experiences in front of a small but supportive crowd on Wednesday, while urging people to stay safe on the streets.
Ms McDonald recently told the Bendigo Advertisershe not only feared violence, but expected it.
The LGBTI community gathered at Bendigo library for IDAHOBT – the international day for taking action for a prejudice-free world regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation.
The main purpose of IDAHOBT is to raise awareness of violence, discrimination, and repression of communities worldwide.
The Bendigo event – supported by VACountry, headspace Bendigo, La Trobe University Group Rainbow Eagles, Goldfield Libraries Bendigo and the City of Greater Bendigo – included rainbow chalking on the footpath outside the library, a fashion show, and a raising of the rainbow, or LGBTI pride flag.
Lockwood Ward councillors Matt Emond, Jennifer Alden and deputy Mayor Rod Fyffe were in attendance.
Cr Emond said Wednesday was a day to make a stand for a discrimination-free world.
He said the City of Greater Bendigo was committed to social inclusion.
“So simply put, your council believes in a Greater Bendigo that’s a safe place for everybody, and i think that’s who we are as a community,” he said.
Cr Emond said he noticed a larger, and prouder LGBTI presence in Bendigo since he left in the 1990s, which for him, was heartening to see.
Bisexual Kat Kelso attended to support the idea that individuals should be allowed to make their own choices.
“We don’t have to judge people because they like boys or because they like girls,” she said.
With a number of children in attendance at the rainbow chalking, Ms Kelso said it was important to teach tolerance and acceptance to the next generation.
“It teaches younger kids that it (same sex relationships, transgenderism) shouldn’t be such a forbidden thing.”