Brisbane’s LGBTIQ+ community gathered at the rainbow-illuminated Brisbane City Hall on Saturday night for the 60th annual Queens Ball. In addition to sensational entertainment, the Diamond Jubilee Extravaganza also included the 2021 Queens Ball Awards to honour individuals and groups for their community contributions.
Click here to see all the photos from the 2021 Queens Ball Awards
The 2021 Queens Ball proved a resounding success for Brisbane Pride — indeed, a proud celebration of the event’s 60th anniversary. Notable absences this year were Dame Sybil von Thorndyke and Ally of the Year Shelley Argent, both due to ill-health. However, Sybil’s partner Wayne attended and dear friend Betty Nature spoke on behalf of the legendary Ball founder. Shelley Argent‘s son James accepted the longtime PFLAG+ spokesperson’s award on her behalf.
Ball stalwart Grace Grace could also not attend due to a family commitment. However, the Minister for Education joined in spirit, sending a video message. She also sponsored the Drag Performer of the Year category.
More pollies than ever attended in 2021 with representatives from Labor, Liberal and the Greens. Those politicians deserve recognition for attending such a high profile queer event and their sponsorship of awards. They not only gain votes for their support of our communities. They also lose votes. Their attendance is an indication of a genuine commitment to diversity and inclusion.
2021 saw Deputy Premier Steven Miles attend as well as two senators, Labor’s Nita Green and Larissa Waters from the Greens. Perennial community supporter Cr Vicki Howard also joined the party as did Cr Kara Cook and Cr Jared Cassidy. Member for Brisbane and Assistant Minister Trevor Evans also celebrated the 60th Diamond Jubilee. The Queensland Government put in an especially strong appearance. In addition to Steven Miles, Ministers Yvette D’Ath and Leanne Enoch celebrated the Diamond Jubilee.
The 2021 Ball boasted a broad attendance, truly representative of the glorious diversity of our rainbow communities. Following an Acknowledgement of Country from Aboriginal and LGBTIQ+ elder Aunty Dawn Daylight, the evening kicked off with a cavalcade of community recognition and entertainment. Interspersing the entertainment among the awards proved a popular innovation.
A host of incredible performers entertained the capacity crowd. Even before the show began, Brisbane Pride Choir entertained almost 800 people as they patiently queued to enter the magnificent Brisbane City Hall. Kudos to Brisbane Pride volunteers for their friendly and efficient welcome and thanks to everyone for downloading the Check In Qld app to help ensure a COVID-safe event.
Kryptonite kicked off the evening in inimitable style followed by a powerhouse opening from the Aboriginal Centre for the Performing Arts. Sam Bateson performed an amazing solo in honour of all those we lost too early to AIDS or suicide. For lovers of drag — ie: everyone — Gina Vanderpump then presented the visually spectacular Stardust featuring Dame Liz Taylor. Reigning Miss Burlesque Queensland Citrine Velvetine also stunned in and out of a beautifully detailed costume.
Ella Ganza presented Her Truth in a poignant and inspirational performance documenting her journey to self-discovery.
The Voice winner Alfie Arcuri took to the stage following the Awards and proved the perfect party-starter. Not only a strong singer-songwriter, Alfie is also a consummate showman with the crowd on their feet and dancing from start to finish. DJ Beksis then took over and kept the party going under Brisbane City Hall’s magnificent coloured dome.
Young Achievement Award – 2021 Queens Ball Awards
Sponsored by Councillor Jared Cassidy
Every year, the Young Achiever Award demonstrates that the future of our communities is in good hands. This year proved no exception with Navin Jayasekera honoured for their unrelenting contributions as a youth worker and activist. Navin lists their goal as taking up space, ensuring LGBTQI+ voices are heard, and also promoting B.I.P.O.C. excellence within the LGBTQI+ community.
First Nations Deadly Award – 2021 Queens Ball Awards
Sponsored by 2Spirits Program & IndigiLez
‘Rocky’ Rochelle Byrne is Vice Chair Person of 2Spirits and a proud mum and Nan. She is active in Aboriginal Health and Family Planning as well as a member of the IndigiLez Women’s Group. Recently, Rocky was the lead in the innovative Yarns Heal Suicide Prevention Campaign for Indigenous LGBTIQ+ people.
Brisbane Pride Hall of Fame – 2021 Queens Ball Awards
Sponsored by Brisbane Pride Incorporated
Whether fighting for community rights during the Marriage Equality debate or focussing on health and wellbeing first as a board member and then as President of QC – Queensland Council for LGBTI Health, Peter Black has long been at the forefront of LGBTIQ+ community issues in Queensland and nationally.
Brisbane Pride Proud Award – 2021 Queens Ball Awards
Sponsored by AAMI
Brisbane Pride Committee members dedicate countless volunteer hours to achieving the best for their community. This year, Brisbane Pride honoured former President Deeje Hancock and committee member Troy Turner.
Community Social Group of the Year – 2021 Queens Ball Awards
Sponsored by Councillor Kara Cook
Rainbow Families run events for LGBTIQ+ families to attend as a family in a safe environment. The organisation facilitates Rainbow Families playgroups and social events specifically for children and parents.
Community Support Group of the Year – 2021 Queens Ball Awards
Sponsored by Councillor Vikki Howard
2SPRITS is the Queensland-based Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTIQ+ program. The Team provides cultural care and service access for mental, sexual and physical health. The program also fosters social connection through a peer-to-peer model. Additionally, 2Spirits provides holistic cultural support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTIQ+ Sistergirl and Brotherboy people and families.
Sporting Group of the Year – 2021 Queens Ball Awards
Sponsored by Trevor Evans (Federal Member For Brisbane)
The Brisbane Hustlers RUFC provide a safe and inclusive place for gay and trans men to participate in sport. During COVID-19, the Hustlers found new avenues for participation and to share the message that sport is for everyone.
Activist of the Year – 2021 Queens Ball Awards
Sponsored by Senator Nita Green
Ella Ganza is proactive across the LGBTQIA+ spectrum, especially within the indigenous and Polynesian communities. She is a part of the Brisbane sci-fi festival and also holds ballroom community throwdowns monthly.
Ally of the Year – 2021 Queens Ball Awards
Sponsored by Roxy Celebrant
Despite her illness, Shelley Argent watched the 2021 Ball via the Brisbane Pride live broadcast. From the day her son came out to her as gay in the 1990s, Shelley dedicated her life to fighting for his, and his community’s, rights.
Volunteer of the Year – 2021 Queens Ball Awards
Sponsored by Diverse Voices
Sally Cripps volunteers at events between Hervey Bay and Tweed Heads: LGBTIQ + Ageing events, Queer Youth events, First Nations events and more! She achieved the respect and trust of her communities through her passion for volunteering.
Artist of the Year – 2021 Queens Ball Awards
Sponsored by Linda Martello
Matt Poser provides a sense of escapism and happiness through his art and uplifts the Brisbane community. Matt also produced a clothing line with his art on it and helps others do the same.
Drag Performer of the Year – 2021 Queens Ball Awards
Sponsored by Grace Grace MP
Popular Brisbane performer Bebe Gunn champions P.O.C. voices, trans voices and the voices of women by constantly booking performers from those categories. Importantly, she also starts conversations about inclusion and acceptance, both inside and outside the room.
Performer of the Year – 2021 Queens Ball Awards
Sponsored by AAMI
Ella Ganza takes the lead in the Runway Movement, House of Alexander, Thicc Shake and more. She works tirelessly to bring POC, especially Trans POC, to the forefront of the club scene.
DJ of the Year – 2021 Queens Ball Awards
Sponsored by Frosting Fabulous
DJ Dolly Llama knows her music and her crowd interaction lights up rooms. A resident at the Wickham, Fluffy, Limes, and BGD, DJ Dolly also ventures into the regions, often appearing at Tropical Fruits event and playing at Turtle Cove near Cairns for NYE 2021.
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Sponsored by AAMI
Brian Day began a lifetime of activism in the 1970s. Instrumental in setting up Queensland’s first LGBTIQ+ organisation, the Camp Club, he remains a pioneer Queensland rights activist.
Licensed Venue of the Year – 2021 Queens Ball Awards
Sponsored By BrisBears
The Wickham Hotel is a stalwart of the Brisbane Scene, offering varied entertainment including drag, trivia and much much more. Additionally, the Wickham hosts Big Gay Day, POC, and Little Gay Day, serving it up and supporting up and coming drag performers.
Adult Venue of the Year – 2021 Queens Ball Awards
Sponsored by The Wickham
The Den has provided a safe cruising space for men who have sex with men for decades.
Annual Event of the Year – 2021 Queens Ball Awards
Sponsored By Brisbane Pride Incorporated
For over 20 years, Big Gay Day has brought the LGBTQIA community together to both celebrate and fundraise for local charities.
Regular Event of the Year – 2021 Queens Ball Awards
Sponsored by AAMI
Presented by Joel Devereux, RUMBLE is an all-inclusive game show like no other. The monthly production features an on-stage battle between drag, burlesque, cabaret, and theatre stars over three rounds of improvisation and antics.
Belle of the Ball 2021
Sponsored by AAMI
However unenviable the task, Tanya Caunce of AAMI stepped up for the live judging of the always fiercely competitive Belle of the Ball competition. Following careful consideration and audience input, Tanya announced the 2021 Belle of the Ball as Elle DeFlower.
This writer co-hosted the evening with the amazing Paul Wheeler and we both agreed we’ve never enjoyed such a gala night so much — the venue, the organisation, the entertainment, the honorees and most of all – the audience – what a wonderful night! Thank you also to the hard-working and gracious Auslan interpreters.
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