Gay event to be a night of solidarity

An upcoming LGBTIQA event in Ballarat isn’t just a chance to have fun, it’s also an opportunity to show support among the city’s gay community, according to its organiser.

Unity: Azsa Wild, otherwise known as Jolie Mystique, is one of the artists performing for next weekend's LGBTIQA event. Picture: Kate Healy

Unity: Azsa Wild, otherwise known as Jolie Mystique, is one of the artists performing for next weekend's LGBTIQA event. Picture: Kate Healy

Ballarat gay rights activist and Equal Love co-convener Koby Bunney said next weekend’s Grind event at Babushka Lounge came at the end of “a heck of a year” for the gay community.

He said the debate surrounding Safe Schools, the Orlando club shooting, and the recent suicide of 13-year-old Tyrone Unsworth, had left LGBTIQA people reeling.

Mr Bunney said he hoped Grind could become a regular event, coming on the back of Camp Street at Element Nightclub and Dorothy Whoo at the former Haida Bar.

“We’ve got burlesque and boylesque, and we’ve got some DJs as well,” he said.

“The burlesque is by Nellie Minelli – a veteran performer. Then we’ve got Jolie Mystique doing boylesque...and Gabriella Labucci is a drag queen and was one of Camp Street’s superstars.

“We’re wanting to bring the LGBTIQA community together. Anytime we can do these things together is a good day.”

Mr Bunney said many people didn’t realise how strong Ballarat’s LGBTIQA was. He said he hoped events like Grind could help people “coming out” feel safe and welcomed.

“Ballarat has a massive scene and a massive community; people don’t even realise it. It’s important for us to get together in our community because we’re each other’s support and know what each other are going through,” he said.

“When I came out, I came from a Pentecostal church and they tried to pray my gay away. I tried really hard to love myself.

“Finally I met people and I went from staying in my room to walking down the street and people would come up and give me a hug...and now I have the best friends I could ever hope for.”

Grind is also a fundraising event for Babushka Lounge, which has indicated it is likely to close in 2017, with all entertainers performing on a voluntary basis.

“Babushka has been a continual safe space for the LGBTIQA community and we want to see it continue,” Mr Bunney said.

The event will be held on December 10 from 6pm to 1am. Tickets $5-$10.