Young LGBTIQ people in the Victorian city of Bendigo will celebrate diversity at an inclusive Rainbow Ball event later this year.
The Rainbow Ball is being organised by Bendigo Police’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officers in conjunction with a number of youth and other community groups, and will be held at Ulumbarra Theatre on September 28, the Bendigo Advertiser reported.
Sergeant Greg Gentry said the LGBTIQ youth representatives had taken control of the planning process for the new event.
“It’s not going to be a formal ball, it’s more of a celebration of youth and a community. The focus is on the kids aged between 16 and 25,” he said.
“[This] is an opportunity for kids who are watching schoolmates do formal balls but won’t do it because it’s not in their comfort zone, they can’t do it with the person of their choice or in the dress of their choice.
“These kids don’t want to be the only kids at the ball to have a same-sex partner and this is an opportunity for them to do that in a non-judgemental, safe space.
“They wanted a chance to show themselves as they want to be perceived and have some fun.”
Mental health organisation headspace, La Trobe University, the Victorian Aids Council and other groups had joined the planning process, and ideas so far include an open mic aspect to the event ahead of a Welcome to Country and DJ.
“It will be a completely dry event with no alcohol and no drugs,” Sergeant Gentry said.
“The idea is that it’s an event that is a safe space for them to express themselves and be what they want to be.”
On the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia last week, Victoria Police released the results of a study which found young queer people were too scared to report hate crimes to police.
The research found that while close to 95 per cent of those surveyed had been victims of hate crimes, just over 10 per cent of hate crimes were reported to police. Only 42 per cent of those surveyed said they trusted police.
Victoria Police backed the report’s recommendations that included providing a more visible police presence at LGBTIQ youth events, promotion of liaison officers, increased training on LGBTI issues and diversifying the recruitment within the force.
(Photo by Midsumma Festival)