Gay couple tells story for Museum of Brisbane exhibition

100 Percent Brisbane Sophiaan Subhan Museum of Brisbane

A gay couple among 100 Brisbane residents who will share their life stories in a new exhibit at the Museum of Brisbane.

Sophiaan is among those chosen to participate in “100% Brisbane,” with each person representing one per cent of the city’s population.

During the project’s interview process, Sophiaan revealed the kaleidoscope of his identity: he’s the eldest son in a Muslim-Malay family, and by day he’s an academic at Griffith University and drag queen Chinta at night.

Sophiaan’s partner Chris is also in the exhibition. The couple married in New Zealand in December last year.

“Initially, I was just wanting to complete my PhD in Brisbane and go home to Singapore,” Sophiaan said.

“I wasn’t looking for a relationship but there’s things that you don’t plan! They just happen and they happen for the best. I met Chris and decided to make Brisbane my home.

“Getting married was a decision that we’d been thinking about for some time. We didn’t rush it, it was really considered.”

The decision to stay in Australia wasn’t easy, Sophiaan says, because as the eldest child he felt certain obligations to his family.

“The tradition is that I take care of my family. But you know what, I can still take care of them from Brisbane,” Sophiaan said.

“I don’t need to be physically in Singapore. I think that somewhat changed my mentality, that I can still be a good son.”

Each of the 100 people’s stories will be featured in a 90-minute film, with some of their personal perspectives featured throughout the rest of the exhibition.

There are a number of LGBTI Brisbanites among the 100 people participating in the project, and many of them got involved through word of mouth.

Ari Frost came out at age 13 but didn’t find his place within the gay community until he was 35.

He suggested his acquaintance Rob Kirk for the project. Rob grew up in a wealthy family in New Zealand but ran away to London at 15 and created his drag identity Tara, who he’s been performing as for 35 years.

Rob put then put the Museum in touch with fellow drag queen Sophiaan.

PFLAG National Spokesperson and Brisbane supermum Shelley Argent is also featured in the project.

Museum of Brisbane Director Peter Denham said the exhibit revealed the city’s identity through the collection of personal stories.

“Each person’s voice in the Brisbane DNA community provides an insight into who we are, how the people of Brisbane have shaped the city and how we have been shaped by some of the defining features of this place,” he said.

Each of the participants were extensively surveyed and Mr Denham said the aim of the exhibition was to track changes in attitudes and beliefs over the course of three years.

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