Phoebe Le Brocque from Queensland group Here We Queer (HWQ) was named Young Achiever of the Year at the 58th Annual Queens Ball Awards, a week short of Here We Queer’s first birthday.
She and friend Tayla Lauren Ralph envisaged HWQ as providing the sort of safe, accessible queer meetup that they would have appreciated a few years before.
Phoebe hails from the beautiful garden city, Toowoomba. She and Tayla both grew up there.
“We both experienced attending Catholic private school and forgetting to come out to our mums,” she said.
“In the early half of 2018, I joined the committee of Queer Collaborations. The national student conference travels from university to university each year, bringing joy, havoc, and gayness wherever it goes.
“The University of Queensland hosted this celebration of queer discourse and community in 2018. In the lead-up to the July conference, I enlisted Tayla to help with QC’s promotional marketing.
“Growing up in Toowoomba, neither Tayla nor I ever dreamed of such an event. You didn’t see Queerness on the street or in shop window displays on Ruthven Street.
“What we yearned to experience was that same queer visibility outside university-circles, and particularly in our hometown.”
Here We Queer’s humble beginnings
“We organised our first event via text messages and agreed our number one objective was a free event,” Phoebe Le Brocque explained.
“We can’t afford to regularly attend ticketed events, so we knew other young folk needed cost free opportunities to socialise.
“Our Here We Queer ethos is to highlight queer experiences. Our events tend to vary but they all share a celebration of local queer talent.
“After an initial Toowoomba meetup, we held our first Brisbane event and learned by experience that event management is as much about failure as success. Despite a poor turnout for that first event, we powered on.
“We’re only a small team, so we incline to collaborative events. We hosted two Queer Beers in Fortitude Valley with the help of Crimson Presents (spectacular musicians Bridget Brandolini and Hope D).
“Our Queer As Film Club events with Queer As Media feature diverse panels offering alternative perspectives on queer misrepresentation and identity. Of course, we also encourage an audience voice.”
Future plans for the group
“In the future, we see HWQ continuing to create new events. Not just dance parties (although we love those), but platforms which facilitate debate, bonding, and communal belonging. Our vision includes free resources and free access to information through our newly launched website and growing YouTube channel.
“Here We Queer started so idealistically, so it’s sometimes difficult for us to limit what we want to do. The short answer is that Tayla and I want to do it all. We want to have our birthday cake (we just celebrated one year of HWQ!) and eat it too.
“If you want community, in all honesty, you have to do something. If there is something that you see lacking, you have the power to bring it from your imagination to realisation. But (and I cannot stress this enough) do not do it alone. I only achieved anything because of Tayla’s constant help.
“She empowered me to be opinionated, honest, and outspoken.
“What people on the outside don’t see is the unending flurry of anxious text messages between the two of us. And as our ambitions with HWQ grew, so did our team.
“At our past event celebrating our first birthday, we brought in two new officials members, Jakob Perrett and Caitlin Collins, in addition to an entire ensemble of volunteers and the support of local business.
Phoebe said, “If you’re not sure where to start, start with our existing community. Start by volunteering for the annual Brisbane Queer Film Festival.
“Pop into Open Doors and ask how you can start your own fundraiser or clothes drive. Take a friend to a Wendybird crafternoon and ask around for local queer zine recommendations.”
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