Aboriginal elder Aunty Dawn Daylight was among more than a dozen community champions to be honoured at the 57th annual Queens 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 was presented first with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Later, she also received 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. She has supported the LGBTIQ community for many years. Aunty Dawn is 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 previously worked as an Aboriginal health worker and literacy tutor. Dawn also uses art and theatre to tell her story. She shares the heartache and trauma she experienced when 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. However, she 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, longtime owner of Fortitude Valley’s The Beat Megaclub, unbelievably, also received a Lifetime Achievement Award.
An associated drag queen made a speech before his award.
“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.”
“It’s given many performers an opportunity to tread the boards and do what they love to do.”
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.
Out For Australia Queensland director Paige Wilcox won Trans Activist of the Year. Alex David won Intersex Activist of the Year for their intersex advocacy work.
Shelley Argent at 57th annual Queens Ball
PFLAG national spokesperson Shelley Argent, a tireless campaigner for marriage equality and rainbow families, was named Ally of the Year.
Brisbears won Community Social Group of the Year, and the LGBTI Legal Service won Community Support Group of the Year.
The Wickham’s fundraising street party Big Gay Day won the Annual Event award. Queensland AIDS Council fundraiser Balls Out Bingo won Regular Event of the Year.
The Sportsman Hotel won Licensed Venue of the Year, and Number 29, owned by the Brisbane Pride president, won Adult Venue of the Year.
Candy Surprise also won Drag Performer of the Year again. Kryptonite won Performer of the Year.
Talented and popular photographer Joel Devereux won Artist of the Year, while 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.