A senior LGBTQ&I member says progress towards ending discrimination is encouraging but more work is needed to address historic discrimination that has reverberated across lifetimes.
It comes as a film charting central Victorian LGBTQ&I people’s experiences screened on Monday afternoon as part of Victorian Seniors Week Festival celebrations.
The documentary was spearheaded by Bendigo Queer Film Festival committee member Noel Hourigan and independent filmmaker Issie Soudy.
The film explores lived experiences with personal stories and the changing attitudes in society towards sexual orientation and gender identity.
Jamie Gardiner is one of 10 people interviewed for Untold Histories.
He says the idea such a documentary would be featured in a week celebrating seniors would have been unimaginable 40 years ago and was a sign of wider cultural change.
Mr Gardiner is a member of the Victorian government’s LGBTI Taskforce and, in 1975, was one of the founders of the Central Victoria Gay Group.
The first meeting of the Central Victoria Gay Group took place in what was then Mr Gardiner’s Carpenter Street house at a time when most people “were very closetted, for very good reasons”.
It was a time when many would not come out to their families or work colleagues.
“Things are much better now but there’s still a long way to go,” Mr Gardiner said.
Many people are yet to have historic acts they were convicted for expunged.
“It brings up a lot of awful memories or people don’t realise it is available. Most of the people it affects are getting on (in years),” Mr Gardiner said.
Many senior LGBTQ&I members still feel they need to go back into the closet when they enter nursing homes, Mr Gardiner said, or fear their partners will not be recognised on their death.
Despite the sometimes hard experiences many who were interviewed have faced over time, filmmakers say most report feeling welcome and respected in the central Victorian towns and suburbs they call home today.
Diane Reeves has been living as a trans woman for five years and said taking part in the documentary was a chance to encourage more people to take the step to come out.
“The progression of things at the moment is so good. Anything I can do to help push that along, I’d be more than happy to be involved in,” she said.
“To me, this kind of thing saves lives, because I know what my position once was and it wasn’t a nice place. So this is what you’ve got to do.”
All material gathered for the Untold Histories project will be donated to the Gay and Lesbian Archives in Melbourne.
The project was supported by the Victorian Seniors Festival, Thorne Habour Country and the City of Greater Bendigo.
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