Bendigo is awash with rainbow initiatives seeking to alleviate hurt inflicted upon the LGBTI community during the federal government’s marriage survey.
Headspace Bendigo hosted a “treat yourself” day in the Library Gardens on Saturday, pampering same-sex attracted and gender diverse people with yoga, music and a sausage sizzle.
Queer community organisations VACountry and Friends Alike Bendigo – Central Victoria will offer a similar event follow next Saturday. Both events are the result of a $500,000 Victorian government investment in LGBTI services designed to counteract the effects of the marriage poll.
Bendigo woman Maree Dixon, who volunteers with headspace’s youth diversity groups, said LGBTI young people were angry about the survey, a process that exposed them to “a lot of negativity”.
“There’s also some frustrations as well, because the decision affects them as young people, even though they can’t vote and they don’t have an opportunity to have their say.”
A ‘yes’ result on November 15 would not undo the hurt headspace clients experienced, Ms Dixon said, believing it would take some time to mend the mental health impacts of the survey.
“They start to question themselves,” she said.
“How can you be who you are when there’s all this negativity?”
But the survey was not without its positives, FAB-CV committee member Chris Butler said, believing the queer community in Bendigo was better connected because of the campaign.
“Strangely, its been both divisive and cohesive,” he said at Saturday’s event.
“It’s brought people together because there’s this common thing we’re fighting against.
“The community is looking out for each other.”
His partner, John Richards, feared a ‘yes’ vote could still be stonewalled by conservative MPs.
The pair knew well the legal protections marriage could afford; Mr Butler once turned down a job in the United States because their unmarried status made getting a visa for Mr Richards difficult.
Other upcoming events include head ‘yes’ campaigner Tiernan Brady visiting Brougham Arms on Monday night. Bendigo Says Yes will also host a morning tea on the day of the results’ announcement.