Aboriginal elder Aunty Dawn Daylight was among more than a dozen community champions to be honoured at the 57th annual Queen’s Ball Awards on Saturday night.
The Queen’s Ball Awards, the longest-running LGBTIQ event in the world, recognises the outstanding achievements of individuals, organisations and groups within the local LGBTIQ community.
At the ceremony at Brisbane City Hall, Aboriginal elder Aunty Dawn Daylight (pictured) was presented with both a Lifetime Achievement Award and the inaugural First Nations Leadership and Engagement Award for outstanding work in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTIQ Sistergirl and Brotherboy communities in Queensland.
Aunty Dawn is a Jarrowair-Turrbal woman and respected elder who has supported the LGBTIQ community for many years, including as part of the IndigiLez Women’s Leadership and Support Group and the Gar’ban’djee’lum Network in Queensland.
A fierce advocate for women and children’s rights, she has been an Aboriginal health worker, a support worker, and literacy tutor. Dawn has also used art and theatre to tell her story and share the heartache and trauma she experienced being removed from her family as a child.
“I owe a lot of my accolades to my mother and my father. Growing up under the regime of the Australian government of the time, it made me strong,” she said.
Dawn spoke of her pride graduating university after being denied an education in her youth, but hit out at the racism she still experiences today.
“I’m not going to let anyone put me down, and I’m not going to let anyone put down our gay and lesbian mob,” she said.
John Hannay, the longtime owner of Fortitude Valley’s The Beat Megaclub, was also awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to Brisbane’s LGBTIQ community.
“For 35 years, The Beat has been a safe place for the LGBT community to party, to dance. It’s been a place that’s been non-judgmental and open to everyone,” Brisbane drag queen Diva said as she presented Hannay with the honour.
“It’s given many performers an opportunity to tread the boards and do what they love to do. John Hannay, I love you and thank you. The community thanks you.”
Activist Peter Black and Shaz Gerchow both received Proud Awards for outstanding services to the community.
Matilda Alexander took out both Activist of the Year and Volunteer of the Year for her work with the LGBTI Legal Service.
Queen’s Ball host and Out For Australia Queensland director Paige Wilcox won Trans Activist of the Year, and Alex David won Intersex Activist of the Year for their intersex advocacy work.
PFLAG national spokesperson Shelley Argent, a tireless campaigner for marriage equality and rainbow families, was named Ally of the Year.
Josh Goyne took home the Young Achievement Award, given to a young LGBTIQ advocate under 25, and Michael James was named Media Personality of the Year.
Brisbears won Community Social Group of the Year, and the LGBTI Legal Service won Community Support Group of the Year.
Annual Event of the Year was awarded to The Wickham’s fundraising street party Big Gay Day, and Queensland AIDS Council fundraiser Balls Out Bingo won Regular Event of the Year.
The Sportsman Hotel was named Licensed Venue of the Year, and Number 29 won Adult Venue of the Year.
Candy Surprise won Drag Performer of the Year, and Kryptonite was named Performer of the Year.
Photographer Joel Devereux was named Artist of the Year, and the Sportsman Hotel’s DJ Merlin took out DJ of the Year.
Proceeds from the Queen’s Ball Awards go to the annual Brisbane Pride Festival and the Kal Collins Memorial Fund for further distribution to groups, individuals and organisations working towards LGBTIQ mental health and suicide prevention.