Jules and Rach, co-founders of Ipswich’s first family pride event, chat to us about the process of putting Queerswich together and what they hope this event can represent for both queer and non-queer people in the Ipswich community.
Get to know Jules and Rach
Jules: Rach and I met in 2003 in an online lesbian chat room called the Pink Sofa. I had just moved from Brisbane to Ipswich six months before and Rach was living with her six-year-old son, Liam, in Ascot. We started chatting on a Tuesday night, typing back and forth for hours in a “private room”. We then spoke on the phone on Wednesday night and met at Garuva’s Restaurant in The Valley on the Friday night. Within one week Rach was packing up her little flat and making the move to Ipswich. Did somebody say “lesbian cliché”? We ticked all the boxes!
Rach: Also, it was in the very early days of online dating so it was pretty out there at the time. It took us years to admit to anyone that we’d met online. Now it’s how most people seem to meet. I knew nothing about Ipswich (and probably had some old misconceptions about the place), so no one was more surprised than me when I absolutely fell in love with the place.
Jules: The last twenty years have flown by. We have lived in several Ipswich suburbs and Rach has had a very successful events and marketing career here, including in Ipswich City Council and now as the West Bremer Radio drive time host. We enjoyed being a part of the Ipswich Grammar School and then Springfield Anglican College communities. And we were also managers of Liam’s Ipswich Cats aussie rules teams and did our stint as scorers for his cricket club and provided many half-time orange slices.
Rach: Jules has also dedicated her career to working with animals, first with the RAAF and then the RSPCA so over the last 20 years together we’ve fostered about a million cats and dogs!
How did the idea of launching Queerswich come about?
Jules: Just over a year ago, Rach and I were lamenting the lack of queer visibility in our city. Apart from the fabulous drag queen community, LGBTQIA+ representation is sadly lacking. From time to time, we see lesbian couples “in the wild”in Ipswich, but you would never see queer men walking hand in hand down Brisbane Street. We know they’re out there, but even five years after the same sex marriage plebiscite, queer community members still hide within their own hometown. And heaven help a transgender person who isn’t able to pass as their own gender. The verbal abuse they cop is disgusting.
So, we decided to be the change we wanted to see. With Rach’s background in events and marketing, particularly in the very space that Queerswich will be held, we figured if nobody else was going to celebrate the queer community in Ipswich, then we would put on a show like no other.
Having lived in Ipswich for 20 years, is there a uniqueness to the community (both queer and non-queer) that Brisbanites have maybe overlooked?
Jules: Ipswich is a wonderful city. We have loved being a part of the wider community and feel proud to have made Ipswich our home and where we raised our son. Sure, like every city, there’s an element that frustrates and disappoints us, but time and time again we have been inspired, supported and uplifted by the people of our city.
Rach: We’ve been absolutely blown away by the sheer generosity of our friends and community here in Ipswich. In terms of support for Queerswich, we have been utterly blessed. People from all walks of life and all parts of the community (queer and non-queer) giving their time, expertise, services to help make Queerswich happen. From our local Mayor and Councillors to our not-for-profit partners and co-producers at Arts Connect Ipswich Inc, our co-producers at Helping Support Minds, local businesses, individuals, friends, the arts community and of course the awesome team at QNews– the generosity has been incredible.
What are you both most looking forward to for Queerswich?
Jules: We want to create a safe space for the queer community. We want that transgender teenager to step into the event space and feel comfortable to be who they are; We want anybody who is questioning their gender or sexuality, to know that they are not alone; We want every person who identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual or any other non gender-binary heteronormative individual, to find reassurance, support and acceptance.
Rach: We’re looking forward to seeing everyone being happy and together and celebrating our amazing community. And we would LOVE to know that we made a difference for some emerging queer kids and helped them to feel seen and valued and loved. I know for sure 13-year-old us would have loved an event like Queerswich, and to know that there are so many other people in the world who are just like us.
Jules: We’re looking forward to the puppy pageant, the drag shows, the Wonder Woman bean bag toss, the live entertainment, the market stalls, the kids arts and craft, diversity story time. There’s bound to be something to put a smile on every person’s face. We’re hoping to find the time to stand back and hear the laughter and see those smiles. That will make all the hard work worthwhile.
Rach: And seeing our family and friends all there with us on the day. I think the part we’ve enjoyed the most during all the planning and organising has been having the chance to do it all together and sharing the whole experience.
Do you think there is a significance in holding a family friendly pride event during this complicated political climate right?
Jules: It’s actually very disturbing that there’s a misguided minority who automatically associate LGBTQIA+, drag queens and transgender individuals with sex and child abuse. I think that says more about the people who think that, than the LGBTQIA+ community itself. Who goes there with that kind of thinking?
Queerswich will hopefully show people that the LGBTQIA+ community is primarily about family. We’re mums and dads, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, we’re people in your community. Some members may wear fabulous frocks, wigs and makeup and we may not fit the bi-gender heteronormative majority, but that does not mean we are predators or harmful to children. That type of thinking is abhorrent and shouldn’t be given the regard to even be refuted.
Rach: We’re realising just how crucial an event like Queerswich really is. And, the more people we talk to, the more we realise that so many in our community still feel not always safe to be who you are. Like some of our beautiful drag entertainer friends who have had to learn the art of running fast in massive heels, just because it’s still not safe to walk down a street – not just in Ipswich, but everywhere.
The amount of crap that a lot of queer people are still living with is mind-blowing. We have copped a fair bit of shit on social media from homophobes and haters because we’re producing a queer event. These are the people who think it’s fine to call us all kinds of disgusting names, or say things like, “I don’t know why you need to celebrate, we gave you marriage equality”, right through to, “you’re grooming children,”. The best one though is when they complain that there are no “heterosexual” celebrations and we’re like, ‘Dude, literally every freakin’ day is for you!’
As this is the first ever Queerswich, how do you envision the event potentially evolving in the future?
Jules: We are already excited about Queerswich 2024, 2025 and beyond. This year we’ll keep it fairly simple for our inaugural year (any sponsors who would still like to come on board so that we can tick off more of our wish list for Queerswich 2023, please email us at email@example.com) but look out future years… we’ve got aspirations for bigger, better, bolder and more badass.
Brace yourself Ipswich…. the glitz and glamour is ready to hit.
Find out more
Don’t miss out on the exciting new Queerswich! Mark your calendars for Sunday, June 4th, 2023, from 10am to 3pm, and head down to Tulmur Place in Ipswich’s newly redeveloped CBD.
To find out more, head to Queerswich.com.
For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.