The Rainbow Hub offers international queer students in Brisbane a safe, happy space to celebrate identity and diversity without discrimination or judgement. QNews Magazine spoke to Rainbow Hub founder Louise Kane about the importance of the social group.
“Queer international students come to Brisbane from every continent except Antarctica,” Louise explains.
“Their home countries have varying attitudes to LGBTIQ people, ranging from tolerance through societal disapproval to judicial or extrajudicial threats to life and liberty.”
“Running twice a month at Student One in Wharf Street, we offer those students an empowering and comfortable space to spend time with other international LGBTIQ students and allies.”
With support from Study Queensland, English Australia, Navitas, Open Doors Youth Service and Study Brisbane, the Rainbow hub provides information and organises discussions, workshops, guest speakers, activities and outings.
“It’s all about providing a welcoming and queer home away from home. For many of the students, it provides opportunities beyond anything available in their home country,” Louise said.
“We still live in a heteronormative world, even in our classrooms. This can be difficult for LGBTIQ students, especially those who don’t feel safe or are not out in their country.
“I wanted to create a safe space where international LGBTIQ students had somewhere to meet and be themselves. Rainbow Hub was borne of that ambition.
“It started from a casual meet up with queer international students at the school where I work. I feel very fortunate to have since met so many queer international students and heard their stories.
“One story that still resonates with me was of a Brazilian student named Vivi. She came out as transgender to her mother at 14. Her mother feared for Vivi’s life in Brazil so moved her to Paris as a teenager to live with a friend.
“As a mother myself, my heart aches for any parent having to give up her child, but with her daughter’s life in danger, what else could she do?
“I encouraged Vivi to tell her story to her class mates.”
A current member of the hub comes from Pakistan, a country which as he says, demonises LGBTIQ people. Queer people in Pakistan are at extremely high risk of violence, including murder.
He said of the hub, “Rainbow Hub is particularly special because it’s a collective of gender diverse individuals but also an intersection of nationalities and culture.
“I truly believe there is strength in diversity. One of my life philosophies has always been ‘live and let live’ or more specifically in this case: Love and let love.”
“We, as queer people, may be a minority, but we are the same as everybody else – except perhaps a slightly larger expenditure on hair product, face cream and fancy shoes.”
To find out more about Rainbow Hub, visit their website here.