MELT Festival: Moving story behind 2019 Portrait Prize winner

melt festival 2019 portrait prize dan molloy pacific islander brisbane powerhouse
Photo: Jordan Hirst

Judges chose a portrait depicting the internal struggle of LGBTIQ Pacific Islander people as the winner of the MELT Festival Portrait Prize 2019.

Brisbane photographer Dan Molloy’s Silenced in the Shadows was named Judge’s Choice at Brisbane Powerhouse on Friday night. He won a $1000 prize.

Dan’s subject Stevie identifies as LGBTIQ and is also from the Pacific Islands.

The portraits depicts “the emotional internal battle LGBTIQ+ Pacific Islander and Indigenous people often face.”

“The tape on the mouth represents being silenced and being stuck in a community and a culture where you can’t express your sexuality or gender identity,” Dan told QNews.

“Pacific Islander communities can have staunch cultural and religious beliefs. In particular, transgender people fear being ostracised and not accepted.

“You feel silenced and you can’t express yourself, just as when you’re gay and you’re in the closet.”

Molloy said the winning portrait is one of thirty photos from the same collection. He said he wants to exhibit them somewhere in Brisbane ahead of next year’s MELT Festival.

“Everyone we photographed on this day felt ostracised by their families or somebody in their lives.

“We took a stand by taking some amazing photos and being seen and heard. Our stories are real. We’re real people.”

MELT Festival’s 10-day lineup of queer arts and culture

Twenty-one other MELT Portrait Prize finalists are on display throughout the Brisbane Powerhouse.

Organisers will announce the People’s Choice winner, voted on by patrons at the venue, at the end of the MELT Festival.

Festival organisers unveiled the 2019 lineup last month, celebrating LGBTIQ+ arts and culture and promoting LGBTIQ+ visibility and inclusivity.

The International Day of Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) is recognised on May 17 each year.

The LGBTIQ community gathered at Brisbane Powerhouse on Friday to commemorate IDAHOBIT, one of several events held around the state.

The MELT festival runs for 10 days from June 28 to July 7 at Brisbane Powerhouse. Tickets are on sale now at the website here.

Other Melt Portrait Prize Winners

2016: Atong Atem.

2017: Lesley Turnbull and Kenn Santos.

2018: Louan Walker.

2021: Pat Hall.

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Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

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